Live Review: Summer Tones

18 December 2017 | 10:40 am | Bryget Chrisfield

"'Don't leave us hanging!' Offer hears our plea, turns around and reciprocates high-fives after admitting it gets very confusing down here."

More !!! (Chk Chk Chk) More !!! (Chk Chk Chk)

Tunes boom outta Malthouse Theatre courtyard as we wander through the Grant Street entrance into a space we really hope continues to host live music events down the track. Spike Fuck is on stage accompanied by a laptop and her lyrics often plunge into the depths of despair: "I can't even get high, but that's constant drug use for you." Her between-song banter charms. Spike Fuck plays a B-side, admitting she doesn't really like the song but says everyone keeps telling her it's good so suggests we can make up our own minds. Covering Bette Davis Eyes by Kim Carnes is inspired and the song is given a spontaneous Spike Fuck edge. Calls for an encore see Spike Fuck then covering The Christian Life by Gram Parsons, after hoping aloud that there are not too many Christians in attendance.

Punters look pretty stoked to be able to punch darts in the open air of Malthouse Theatre's courtyard while they watch the bands and the mouth-watering food options from Wabi Sabi, Neko Neko, Yoko Ono Ramen and Bosozoku Burgers mean we actually squeeze in extra meals. Overhearing middle-aged revellers discussing scoring and dropping just in time to peak during Chk Chk Chk (on a school night, no less) is heart-warming.    

From song one, Cash Savage & The Last Drinks have our full attention. Falling, Landing hits the mark with sonic dervishes and Kat Mear's fiddle adds an irresistibly unhinged layer on top. Percussionist Rene Mancuso bashes out great driving, galloping beats and when backing band members join in for mass vocals the effect is hypnotic. You've gotta hand it to 'em, Cash Savage & The Last Drinks have improved their live show outta sight since a disappointing album launch at The Croxton in 2016. You actually wanna stop your mate mid-conversation to focus on the sounds these days with Savage and co now much closer to doing justice to that absolutely outstanding One Of Us set.

Weirdly, a fire alarm rings constantly during one of the DJ sets and everyone just keeps on chatting. When it's eventually turned off, a cheer goes up, which is a relief since we thought we were the only ones who could hear it and worried tinnitus was setting in.       

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Tropical Fuck Storm have touches of The B-52's about them at times and could not be more different from The Drones. Frontman Gareth Liddiard mainly directs his banter towards a dude in the crowd he addresses by name, which gets a bit old. The mix is incredibly muddy when compared to that of Cash Savage & The Last Drinks and it takes a while to settle in. It's all very psychedelic and there are undoubtedly many Liddiard fans in the crowd, but, although we try, we're not entirely on board.

But best on ground were always gonna be Chk Chk Chk in this loose, outdoor setting. And what a vibe Nic Offer offers! He's pretty much got the best set of legs in the biz as well, which he's obviously well aware of given the shortness of those shorts. It's a genuine disco party and punters stand up on any available benches for an elevated boogie. Offer and his singing companion Lea Lea regularly jump into the audience to fraternise with fans, and the pair's synchronised dance moves are something to behold. After one of Offer's ventures into the crowd, he materialises nearby looking disorientated. We raise palms high for potential high-fives but he turns his back on us. Huh? "Don't leave us hanging!" Offer hears our plea, turns around and reciprocates high-fives after admitting it gets very confusing down here. What a bloody legend! The precision of shapes Offer pulls impresses and funk clearly flows through his veins. He also loves stealing hats off punters' heads and trying them on for size. Dust flies everywhere as those assembled just can't help but bust moves and One Girl/One Boy inspires maximum mayhem.

Although we holler for an encore, Offer returns to the mic and explains they unfortunately can't do one more song due to the curfew, apologising helplessly,"I don't make the rules, Melbourne." Happy 11th birthday, Mistletone, our musical landscape is a much better place thanks to your endless passion and Midas touch.