Friday, April 16, 2010


@ The Zoo

Brisbane boys, The Delta Monarchs set is tight and well-polished - it's just a pity Thursday night crowds are non-existent. 

It was a little worrying to see the cashier's paltry tally marks of paying patrons as we got to The Zoo to see The Delta Monarchs, supporting Melbourne band, The Vaudeville Smash. I assumed things would heat up as their set wore on, with the crowd developing as it became closer to Smash's set. It didn't, and the few people by the bar, the couples bunched at tables and the woman playing pool remained the only audience. It was a damn good show, with just the right mix of rock, roots, blues, swagger and humour, and if anyone was actually listening, they would have realised that, too.

The Delta Monarchs are pretty new on the scene, but have none of the messy overplaying common to bands that haven't found their feet yet. Consider their comfortable performance style akin to an experienced lover, rather than an over-excited teenager. Not the kind of performance that'll draw a throng of hipsters, but one that'll see them keep playing for years to come.

They mostly stuck to tracks off their self-titled record, mixing up roots and blues with long stretches of percussion or instrumental sections. The upbeat southern-rock 'Talking to the Ladies' was followed up by the beat-heavy 'Time Ain't on my Side', where the vocals, in the live setting, take a backseat to the drumming of Bryan Macaranas and the throbbing bass.

Next up was the more reflective, smooth-sounding 'Sweet Talking' which, mostly due to its quieter sound, reveals the strength of dual lead singers, Jason Castle and Rohan Staples. The set-list was balanced so you'd never forget they were there, but wouldn't feel awkward for lazily sipping your drink and tapping your foot rather than dancing.

Near the end of the 50 minute set, Castle thanked the crowd for "sticking around to have a look at us", and asked anyone who's headed up to the bar to order one for them. The band then launched into a instrumental jam that ended their show on a crescendo, before making way for Vaudeville Smash.

Upside - A smooth set, with no bad performances or blunders, promising these guys are in it for the long haul.

Downside - Insane drink prices, and fairly high entry that probably deterred some potential audience members (at least one group of three in the time it took me to wrestle my I.D from my wallet).

Crowd - A small gathering of polite, but inattentive alternatives.

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