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The Griswolds and Chance Waters: Fri, October 4 @ Alhambra Lounge, Brisbane

Words by Scenewave Australia - Published on October 16, 2013

Come 8:30 last Friday night, I had some mad déjà vu going on. Oceanics had just started up their set, and by Christ I swear I’d heard them before. The déjà vu was probably on account of the fact I’d heard them a few times on Triple J. The station has given these guys a fair bit of air play over the past year and rightfully so, considering how good their music is. Understandably, I felt a little bit silly that it took me this long to figure out who the hell these guys were.

Just to clarify, it’s Oceanics. Emphasis on the ‘S’. Just in case anyone is confusing them for Oceanic, a 90’s British band responsible for this travesty. In stark contrast to whatever the hell that was, Oceanics have a brand of music that embodies an early 2000’s style of indie rock. This, and a touch of the distinct indie pop sound that has been coming through in a lot of good Australian bands these past couple years. Think a lot of The Strokes with a little of San Cisco.

It was only a small crowd that made the effort to come early to Alhambra. But this didn’t seem to deter Oceanics, who smashed out a quality set.

I definitely urge you to check these guys out if you haven’t already. They practically belong on any good Summer playlist.

The Griswolds were up next, and I was very keen. My love affair with their 2012 EP, Heart of a Lion, began last year when it seduced me with its upbeat pop. The title track went on to be one of my votes for Triple J’s Hottest 100 but narrowly missed out. A fact I’m blaming on all you tossers who voted for “Thrift Shop” and whatever it is Mumford & Sons spun out that year (I genuinely can’t remember, all their stuff sounds the same #shotsfired #inb4hatemail). The Griswolds still managed 141st though, an admirable achievement for a song off a debut EP.

The band and their music is a lot of fun. They opened to a decent sized crowd, which was quick to respond. The boys’ enthusiasm was infectious and the set did anything but disappoint.

With only four released tracks, the audience got a pretty hefty teasing of what’s to come in the band’s upcoming album, due out pretty soon. “The Courtship of Summer Preasley” was my highlight for the evening, but the crowd favourites were “Mississippi” and “Heart of a Lion”, which the band closed with.

White boys can’t rap. Said no Eminem fan ever. Same probably applies to the fans of Chance Waters’ rapping, but I’m not one, so I won’t comment on the issue. It’s not that I dislike Chance Waters – or even rap, for that matter – it’s just that my occasional interest in a hip hop song probably doesn’t extend to fandom of the whole genre. The thing about Chance Waters, however, is that rapping isn’t his only strong point. Like Australia’s own version of Britain’s Plan B, Chance has a lot of talent as a song writer and vocalist in addition to his rapping. Chance’s 2012 hits “Young and Dumb” and “Maybe Tomorrow” were hard to ignore for that exact reason.

Those who know me have probably heard me say that I regard Plan B as one of the most talented musicians out there at the moment. I mean, the guy wouldn’t even bust my top 100 list for favourite artists, but only because what he produces isn’t entirely to my taste. But listen to some of his stuff and, regardless of whether you’re into it or not, it’s easy to see he’s got talent to boot. The shock on people’s faces when you tell them the guy who raps “Ill Manors” is the same person doing the vocals in “She Said” is brilliant. Like Plan B, Chance writes and sings the hooks and choruses in his own songs. And for both artists, that’s often my favourite part. Now I don’t mean to sound like I’m putting Chance on the same level as Plan B, because I’m not. Nor am I putting down his rapping. I’m just saying he can rap, sing and write some catchy as hooks. He’s also a hell of a showman, as I came to learn. It didn’t hurt that he had some kick ass back up musicians take to the stage with him.

Chance and the band kicked off with “Conjure Up A Fire”, and before I go any further, I want to make it clear, that I’m aware that being a techie is a tough gig. There’s a lot going on sound wise when Chace and Co. come to town and maybe it wasn’t their fault. Maybe something completely out of their control happened. Like a cat walked across the soundboard. But it was clear from the get go that something was seriously wrong with the sound.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t give techies enough praise when things go perfectly. And when things don’t, I’m quick to complain. And that’s because you’re the techy that the audience deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So I’ll have a bitch. Because you can take it. Because you’re not our hero. You’re a silent guardian. A watchful protector. A Dark Knight.

Basically, techies are batman. Batman is awesome. But even Batman fucks up sometimes.

Unfortunately, that is no consolation for Chance, who had to perform with a quality of sound that was below standard. It was completely out of character for a class venue like Alhambra. Despite the issues, his second song, a cover of “Little Lion Man”, went down really well with the crowd. Predictably, everyone got into the chorus… Yes. Even me.

The sound issues persisted however, and Chance asked twice in-between songs for shit to get fixed, yet it felt like nothing changed. I’m talking bass that was stupidly loud and ear piercing mic feedback. The poor guy actually had to stop mid-song, it got so bad. It was only then that something actually got done. And just in time for “Young and Dumb”, one of his more popular tracks. He rounded the night off well with a few more songs, including another cover with a well known chorus, Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know”, which had Chance playing the xylophone bits on an iPad. Professional or not, it gave me a kick.

Due to the delay caused by sound issues, there was no time for an encore, and so “Maybe Tomorrow” was the last song of the night, and a good way to finish. It’s a credit to Chance and the band that they looked beyond the problems, and gave the best performance they could.

Alhambra continued their tradition of hosting quality Aussie musicians last Friday with Oceanics, The Griswolds and Chance Waters. Despite the issues, it was still top shelf.

Posted in Gigs, Music, Scenewave

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