Updated: Feb 16
There was a stunning sense of expectation in the air at The Espy on Friday night. A feeling that those in the crowd knew that Rolling Blackouts were capable of playing one hell of a show, and that tonight would be no different. I’d have no doubt that everyone in the audience that night had their expectations exceeded from the moment the first chords of The Hammer were played to open the lively and incredibly consistent set. Walking on the stage it was mentioned by singer Fran that even with the new renovations at the Espy, it still looked like the old Espy. Which isn’t a bad thing at all, it is such a prestigious venue for music in Victoria. Over the years it’s seen acts like The Angels, Uncanny X-Men and Paul Kelly. Walking into the venue, you know the music gods look fondly upon the venue, engraining good sound and culture amongst the old walls. And on Friday they looked very kindly onto the boys of Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever.
Rolling Blackouts are a true Melbourne band and nothing does top a home show (even though the Espy is techinically “across the river” from Melbourne). The immensely talented 5 piece played with vigour and an unparalleled chemistry that remained throughout the hour and 20 minute set. With Fran Keaney, Tom Russo and Joe White providing 3 sets of vocals and 3 lead guitars all chiming at the same time, it really is something to marvel at when they come together for the more heavier moments in their tracks. Tie in Joe Russo’s ultra-smooth basslines and Mark Tussie’s snappy drumlines, you have a lot going on at once live. Yet, never did they sound out of step, rather the opposite. The chemistry amongst five members is astonishing, with a culmination of all 5 instruments playing off one another. You see each member loving the moment, strumming along to the beat with a smile on their face, truly enjoying their craft. And as a long-time fan and patron of the crowd that night you couldn’t have asked for anymore.
To compliment the immense amount of energy coming off the stage was a stacked setlist. Even though RBCF released their debut album last year, classics from both sets of EPs were woven throughout. After the opener The Hammer, oldie’s like Sick Bug, Julie’s Place and Wither With You all featured. When coupled in with Mainland and Sister’s Jeans you couldn’t help but be impressed with just how well all songs blend and flow within one another live. They all keep the same tangent of fast paced beats and guitar rhythms, yet live it’s crazy just how well they gel. It was impressive to see all three leads sing “Clean slate, clean slate” one after the other on Wither WithYou, and the plucky guitar scream along in the stunning solo for Mainland.
Tracks like Fountain of Good Fortune and An Airconditioned Man received joyous praise when shredded live, with fans going wild for each member as they played their hearts out. An Airconditioned Man is especially crisp live, with no real chorus it is a gorgeous journey of music progression and lyricism that is all the more sweeter in real time. But it was Talking Straight that got the most out of the crowd, with fans yelling out in full force “Lay back, sink in you’re not Talking Straight!”. It was clear from the confidence and class that RBCF are in total control of their live sets, even playing a new unreleased track they did not seem timid at all. This was obvious with their set closer French Press. RBCF left nothing out on the stage, giving the near 6 minute classic everything. Even drummer Mark Tussie left the kit to stage dive mid song as Fran took over and Tom belted out his guitar solo. It was a fitting ending to such a lively show.
Rolling Blackouts played one incredible show on Friday night. The cohesiveness between each member is obvious and the talent and class on show is something to behold. This is a band that is just one album down, they have mastered their sound to a tee live and live it is not different. RBCF delivered on all fronts, providing a truly impressive performance that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.