Gig Review: Cloud Control And Leader Cheetah, East Brunswick Club, 27th November

Last Friday I was lucky enough to see two of my favourite up and coming Aussie bands at the one show, as Cloud Control and Leader Cheetah undertook their double-headline ‘East Coast Smackdown Tour’.

Cloud Control were showcasing songs from their upcoming debut album, due early 2010 (writeup here), including newest single Gold Canary, while Leader Cheetah were promoting their own debut LP, ‘The Sunspot Letters’ (review here). I had seen both bands before, opening for Josh Pyke and Liam Finn respectively, and I was looking forward to seeing them headline their own show.

Opening the show was Brisbane band ‘Last Dinosaurs, and having checked out some of their stuff in preparation, I was quite excited to hear these guys live. Unfortunately I seemed to be one of the few, as the venue was mostly empty when these guys took the stage. I guess this is one of the perils of opening for a double-headline gig, but it still seemed a real pity as the guys played an enjoyable set.

The room filled up slightly as Last Dinosaurs played, and they certainly seemed to win over pretty much everyone who was there. Lead singer Sean Caskey joked that this may be because they already knew “most of the people here”. The crowd enjoyed the highlight of their set Honolulu, as well as a new song I think was called Alps, and whatever song it was they closed with.

Last Dinosaurs were the perfect appetisers to the rest of the show, and expect to hear a bit more about them on Pluck.

It was looking at this point as though it might be a bit of an awkward gig, with the venue only a quarter-full just before the first half of the double-headline gig, Leader Cheetah, were scheduled to play. However the band delayed appearing for about 15 minutes, which proved a wise move as the crowd grew significantly.

Leader Cheetah finally appeared. They played a set full of favourites from ‘The Sunspot Letters’, however the crowd didn’t really seem to be completely ‘into it’.  Bassist Mark Harding wore his trademark blue earmuffs, and the four figures cut a familiar scene for anyone that has been following the Australian indie scene.

Favourites Bloodlines and Alibi were received strongly by the crowd. However it seemed almost as if Leader Cheetah were another opening act- a really good opening act, bust still an opening act. My feeling was that most of the crowd were at the gig to see Cloud Control, even as Leader Cheetah played an energetic and powerful set.

I really enjoyed Leader Cheetah, but I think their story was a similar one to that of Last Dinosaurs: they really should have been playing in front of a bigger crowd, but they won over the fans that did see them play.

The room reached virtually full capacity as Cloud Control neared appearing, which still isn’t saying much as it was a pretty small band room, probably the smallest gig I’ve been to. There’s nothing wrong with that of course, as it can provide for a more intimate experience with the band, and the anticipation in the crowd grew properly for the first time in the night.

Eventually Cloud Control took the stage, and they were just as awesome as I remember: when lead singer Al Wright started the show by taking off his shoes, you just knew it was going to be a fun show. And indeed it was. Even though Cloud Control are yet to release an album, they have an impressive catalogue of hits, and this show was full of them.

Gold Canary, which has been getting a lot of airplay on Australian radio, was greeted particularly strongly by the crowd, and is the perfect sing-along song. A new song that I hadn’t heard yet called Ghost Story was absolutely awesome, and I can’t wait to get a hold of its studio version.

The band interacted well with the crowd, which is one of the things that set them aside from the two other bands of the night. They said that it was probably the biggest crowd in Melbourne they had played in front of, and were genuinely having a good time. My personal highlight of the night was when Al said that the band had played a show in Bendigo the night beforehand and that only three people had rocked up, only to have someone in the crowd yell out proudly “I was there!”, to which drummer Ulrich Lenffer, peering out into the crowd, replied excitedly “Hey yeah, I remember you!”. Indie, much?

Cloud Control were happy, bouncy, and truly exciting. They finished their set particularly strongly, playing old favourite Vintage Books, and another great new song called This Is What I Said. Then came my favourite Cloud Control song Buffalo Country, an insanely catchy song that it is impossible not to dance to.

During the song Al broke a guitar string, and upon reaching the end of the song yelled out to the crowd, asking if he could borrow a guitar. Sean Caskey of Last Dinosaurs, who happened to be right behind me, yelled out in response, and a member of Last Dinosaurs quickly ran up to the stage to offer his guitar. I heard a Last Dinosaur mutter jokingly behind me “You’d better not break a string!”.

So it was that Cloud Control finished their set with one of their most well-known songs, Death Cloud, with the guitar of Last Dinosaurs (“How cool is this guitar?” enthused Al happily). And suddenly the gig was over. Considering it was a double-headline act, it had gone surprisingly fast.

The one thing that stood out for me above everything else was that this was a true indie gig. After the show, all the members of all the bands that performed spilled out into the crowd and talked to each other and crowd members, including selling their own merchandise. There was no backstage, but instead the bands walked through the crowd onto the stage. Plus of course the fact that a headline act had to borrow a guitar from the support act.

The other standout element of the show was what a tight act Cloud Control have become. I thoroughly enjoyed them when they opened for Josh Pyke, but they have developed beyond belief, and seem poised to release a hit album. After this show, their upcoming LP is probably one of my most anticipated releases of 2010. It will be great to see their EP hits compiled and possibly re-recorded on one disc, and the new songs they played were absolutely brilliant.

Unfortunately it really did seem as if Leader Cheetah were a second opening act. I am a huge fan of theirs, and I thought they played a great set and put on a very exciting live performance. I’m sure that every person who rocked up in time to see them would agree with me, but it’s a pity that not everyone did.

Meanwhile Last Dinosaurs were a great discovery for me, and I’ll definitely be posting more about them on Pluck.

I left the night very content, knowing that I had just witnessed a real indie gig.

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