Live Review: The Rubens, Them Swoops

16 July 2012 | 2:01 pm | Esther Rivers

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Fuzz-pop gurus Them Swoops will give you something to talk about. Even with the (temporary) replacement of effervescent, longhaired ladies' man Chris Goff, they still make waves. Go see them. You won't regret it.

From the size of this crowd The Rubens' popularity is undergoing mass procreation. This may be the biggest crowd they've ever played for. In fact, we know it is when they say, “This is officially the biggest crowd we've ever played for.” Their entrance is monumental; in what could possibly be mistaken for another miniature Melbourne earthquake, the ground tremors beneath our feet as pounding hip hop makes mockery of lightweight PAs. Blinding stage lights flash to the beat, casting a mysterious shadow on the band as they cross the stage. An excitable buzz permeates the air as the lads reach for their instruments, tantalising the heady energy of the crowd. Frontman Sam Margin steps up to the mic: “Thanks for coming down, you've officially made us the happiest dudes alive.”

A couple of pleasant, bluesy pop tunes are served warm, including the sweetly melodic Elvis. It's heading into languid afternoon-at-a-festival territory, yet judging from the pithy bass lines and heavy-handed drumming, they've got a little more up their sleeves. Aaaaand BAM! It hits us about halfway through; the vocals deepen, the riffs become weighty and the songs become powerful. There's something about these guys: they have a bit of that charm, where, although you don't quite know why, you kind of wanna be near them. Damn. You can't learn that shit.

“This last song requires some tambourine. Is there anyone in the audience who plays tambourine?” asks Sam Margin (there are three Margin brothers in the group). “You sir!” he points. “Get up here.” Pausing as the dude in the audience climbs onstage, Margin suddenly grins. “This is our mate,” he says. “Now let's have some fucking fun.” As the hands and cameras go nuts front of stage, the band loosen and let go, allowing the song to take hold. Finishing with a halt, they put down their instruments and exit the stage for what we know will be an inevitable encore of their yet-to-be-played hit song, Lay It Down. Waiting patiently, the audience cheer the boys back to play two more songs, the first of which (Sam) Margin sits down to play on keyboard. “I was nervous about playing keys then,” he says as he finishes. “I was holding back with the drinking. So I'm just gonna have a bit of this.” He holds up a Jameson bottle, “Then this really is our last song.”

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Music and boyish good looks aside, you can't necessarily put your finger on The Rubens' appeal. Yet perhaps it's their gratitude: “Thanks so much, you guys.” Margin praises, “This is the best show we've ever played – 100 per cent.”