Live Review: Tiny Little Houses, Jarrow, RAT!hammock

13 April 2018 | 2:45 pm | Sean A'Hearn

"This cacophony climaxes with an incredibly raw, almost tuneless (yet somehow glorious) version of ABBA's 'SOS', which is the best-received song of the night."

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Bringing slacker rock back into the noughties, Melbourne four-piece RAT!hammock have an unassuming but delightfully eccentric vibe.

Lead singer, Jackson Phelan, interrupts the set halfway through to discuss a piece he's writing on how many friends one can keep at a time. "150!" someone yells out before Phelan responds, "I have, like, five friends." This is the sort of random, fun night we're in for.

Things only get quirkier once alt-garage band Jarrow hit the stage. "You guys like country and western?" asks main man, Dan Oke, before donning a cowboy hat and launching into songs about emojis and Gregory House MD, aka Hugh Laurie from House ("He's really nice so fuck off!"). There is no flow or logic to the set but we all revel in the weird and the wonderful world we are immersed in.

Continuing the trend of Australia's love affair with endearing weirdos and misfits, Tiny Little Houses aren't your typical rockstars. Very much on the lo-fi spectrum of rock and straight from the bedroom, Tiny Little Houses have shoegaze written all over them, but with personality to boot.

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In the vein of fellow Aussie artists such as Courtney Barnett, Alex Lahey and The Smith Street Band, singer Caleb Karvountzis doesn't have an amazing voice, pitch-wise, but that's not the point of this band. His nasally, almost whiny vocal delivery is infused with an earnestness that gives their music a distinctly down-to-earth feel (listen to Garbage Bin and you'll get the picture). 

Playing songs about growing up in the country (Nowhere, SA) and "not fitting in at parties" (Short Hair), Tiny Little Houses are definitely champions of every square peg that's never fit into a round hole. Indeed the crowd is filled with a colourful cast of misfits; the fashion theme of the night being boys with T-shirts tucked into their jeans wearing Chelsea boots. 

Every song is a noise collage with squalls of feedback and dissonance, often building into a passionate, shouted vocal delivery from Karvountzis — barely ever in tune but it didn't matter. There's something special that people recognise about average-sounding people singing about average experiences. This cacophony climaxes with an incredibly raw, almost tuneless (yet somehow glorious) version of ABBA's SOS, which is the best-received song of the night (cue camera phones and moshpit madness). 

Phelan from RAT!hammock joins them on stage for final encore song Team Player as Karvountzis ditches his guitar and dives into the moshpit for one final crowd-surf.