Live Review: The Good China, Cogel, Pretty Strangers, Francolin

30 October 2012 | 12:52 pm | Jaye Weatherburn

While the Saturday night hordes are busy feasting on dumplings in Chinatown, some fine bands are warming up the intimate lounge of Ding Dong. Cogel begin playing to a small group of early arrivals, entertaining with dreamy, memorable pop laced with a hint of darkness. Alex Cameron's emotive violin playing is a nice touch – she looks exuberant and her energy flows into the small but appreciative crowd, while the boys in the band maintain more stoic, serious musician faces. Cogel are onto something good – their songs are intense and appealing.

All-boy five-piece Pretty Strangers serve up some jingly and energetically happy indie songs. Next up, Francolin mix up the scene with some jazzy trumpet and lovely harmonies. The crowd is swelling and amping up for some serious dancing as one lone hipster in skinny red jeans begins proceedings with his special solo brand of 'dance like no one is watching' moves.

Taking the stage underneath their glittery multi-coloured band banner, The Good China step up and embark on their indie-pop party journey. They are launching their new EP, We Knew That We Had To Leave, which is full of shiny happy music for the masses, and the rowdy audience laps it up. There is a good mix of light and shade with this material – from mellow melodies with lush female backing vocals to more full-on, sing-along choruses. Despite the upbeat party vibe, it is interesting when the band tries out a slower song; it has a lot of real feeling on offer and it's a shame that the crowd talks loudly though it.

It is fun to watch the energy onstage as some of the eight members of the band have a collective grab bag of musical talents; they swap instruments as the set goes on. The EP's catchy title track is delivered with a frenzied liveliness and is received enthusiastically. The ironic lyrics, “I'm so fucking indie, I don't even listen to music,” speak volumes about the perception of indie music; however, The Good China give a solid performance of joyful tunes in that vein without a hint of any clichéd hipster coolness. They seem to be pursuing their own original path, serving up a night full of light and bright music for merrymaking and dancing shoes.

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