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Gig Review: Dustin Tebbutt, May 23 @ Alhambra Lounge

Words by Scenewave Australia - Published on May 24, 2014

Since the release of his wistful first single, The Breach, in April last year, Dustin Tebbutt has been gathering momentum. Regular airplay on Triple J and two stellar EPs saw the New England songwriter, who spent two years living and working in Sweden, sell out his entire Bones single tour. I joined an eager crowd for the final show of the tour in Brisbane last night.

Supporting Tebbutt was The Tambourine Girls, an act which is comprised of neither tambourines nor girls. In fact, The Tambourine Girls is the solo project of Deep Sea Arcade guitarist Simon Relf, whose debut EP was released on the 16th May. The EP was recorded with a backing band, but last night Relf took to the stage alone. The Tambourine Girls is still a nascent project, and their (his?) sound drifts between influences, at times sounding like The Shins, at other times a less ethereal The War on Drugs. There are even instances when the combination of Relf’s vocals and steady, looping guitar riffs are reminiscent of The Bends­-era Radiohead.

On the back of The Tambourine Girls’ solid set, Dustin Tebbutt took the stage to provide an hour of his trademark haunting melodies. Accompanied by a chorus of rowdy adorers, some of whom were ambitious/naïve enough to attempt the highest notes, Tebbutt’s set featured tracks from both EPs, as well as some new material and a cover of Houses’ The Beauty Surrounds. Vocally, Tebbutt is a rare talent. His voice, comparable to the likes of Bon Iver and Ásgeir, was enough to lull even the drunkest man (who apparently got married to Where I Find You, and insisted on loudly displaying his admiration for Tebbutt’s work between songs) into a peaceful, appreciative silence. It’s hard to escape monotony in this genre and, I must admit, Tebbutt’s music is often much the same. But he wouldn’t have sold out his entire tour if he was boring. And he’s not. Despite fleeting moments of ennui, the set showcased what an inimitable talent Dustin Tebbutt is, and why there wasn’t a single spare ticket in sight.

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