Gig Review: The Basics @ The Northcote Social Club, 30th October

Thanks to Keith Parsons for the photos.

Last Saturday night Melbourne’s hardest working band, The Basics, played a wonderfully energetic, humorous, and fun show at the Northcote Social Club, very ably supported by Georgia Fair, who themselves seem destined for very big things.

I arrived at the venue deliberately in time to see Georgia Fair, who have released some really nice songs recently. I believe this was one of their first Melbourne shows, and it was a privilege to see them as an opening act, because the quality of their performance and the response from the crowd demonstrated that they will almost certainly be playing headline shows sooner rather than later.

Although generally recognised as a duo, Jordan and Ben were joined on stage by two other musicians to flesh out their sound a bit, and the result was nothing short of spectacular. Lead singer Jordan has a simply stunning voice, and was a very charismatic frontman, complete with awesome hat. Ben also endeared himself to the crowd by saying “Wow, this is awkward. I never usually talk” when Jordan temporarily left the stage, and was in his own way very charming as well.

For such a young band they have a pretty remarkable selection of well-known songs, and by the sounds of things they have a full-length effort in the works for next year, which is definitely one to watch for. Simple Man was sublime, and the beginning of Picture Frames was greeted with loud applause. It’s such a great song that for some reason just makes you want to go on a road trip immediately, even if you’re hearing it in Northcote on a very rainy Saturday night.

The highlight of their set for me however was their closing song, newest single Times Fly. I can’t speak highly enough of this track- it somehow manages to capture so much, and really lets Jordan’s voice shine. It was a great way to finish what was a very enjoyable and well-rounded set. There can be little doubt that Georgia Fair will be around the Australian music for a while to come.

The crowd grew in size gradually as the arrival of The Basics neared, with the show having sold out on the night. I’m definitely not as familiar with The Basics’ backcatalogue as I probably should be, which means I went into this set with no real expectations. Which was all the better, because what followed was a genuinely great performance that left me wondering why I haven’t seen these guys live before.

From the moment Kris, Wally and Tim walked out onto stage it was clear that were an extraordinarily cohesive live band, illustrative of the fact that they have played nearly 1000 shows over their eight-year career (thanks, Wikipedia!). It really did seem like they were just having a great time on stage, and this enthusiasm was mirrored in the audience.

Literally every song was great and offered something to the overall set, which is definitely not true of a lot of shows I’ve been to this year. Just Hold On was an awesome early set feature, getting the crowd moving and demonstrating perfectly how The Basics blend so very many influences and styles into a sound that is all their own.

Memory Lane was also great, and With The Ship saw the band’s tendencies towards a bit of a heavier sound take over. It was a very varied set, crossing between genres with ease, and no two songs sounded the same. Better was a bit more of a bluesy number that saw Wally take over lead vocals to great effect.

Humour was a constant throughout the set, and so was switching lead vocals between all three band members. Wally (aka Gotye) was awesome, and anything but your typical back-stage drummer, Kris kept the crowd entertained masterfully with some really great banter, and Tim played off the fact he was on medication for a cold for some very funny moments. The interplay between the band only helped to further the feeling of carefree fun that the show was all about.

Rattle My Chain was one of my favourite songs from their set, and really got the energy levels rising in the venue. The band were joined on stage for much of their set by previous member Michael Hubbard, now of Eagle And The Worm, who added a bit more depth to their sound but mostly provided a second guitar and stayed back from the band banter.

Covers were scattered throughout the set, and after departing the stage temporarily the boys returned for a short encore which saw them finish their set with what I believe was a Screaming Jets cover. They played for at least an hour and a half, but yet I got the feeling they could have filled another hour with ease. They were great live performers, and I’ll definitely be familiarising myself more with their music in the near future.

I went into this show unsure of what to expect. It was two bands who I had never seen live before, and I only knew a few songs from them both combined. But yet there was something refreshing going into a show with no expectations for once, not having to worry about whether all my favourite tracks would be played or if the band would be as good as the last time I saw them.

This made for a really enjoyable night. Georgia Fair were great, and we’ll definitely be hearing a lot more of them in the months and years to come, and The Basics put on a masterful live show with supreme ease, without a single low point in their entire set. I couldn’t have been more impressed, and look forward to the next time I’ll be able to catch each band live again.

Oh, and The Basics were doing the show to launch their live album, recorded earlier this year at the same venue. It’s available for free online, so if you haven’t already downloaded it then what are you waiting for?

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