It has been about six months since I saw City Calm Down perform live at Howler in the People’s Republic of Brunswick. The band takes the stage and acknowledges how much they appreciate performing before their ‘home audience’ in Melbourne. The Corner Hotel is a significantly different venue from last time, both in terms of vibe and attendees. The crowd is far more diverse than last time. There is a wider array of more cautious, more conservative music goers in attendance, all eager to hear songs from the band’s debut album ‘In a Restless House’. The diversity of the crowd is reflective of City Calm Down’s increasingly recognized musical maturity and deserved promotion through channels like Triple J.
The band still features many of the impressive components that I mentioned in my previous review (solid cohesion, evocative ambiance, a killer brass section) but the new album has brought with it an interesting shift in song dynamics. Their previous ‘Movements EP’ presented simpler songs, and there were fewer changes in time signature mid-song. The latest release comprises more complex time signatures and mid-song chord changes. It’s braver and rewarding of multiple listens. The whole arrangement means that now the dancing that takes place at these gigs is a more varied and creative experience, but it remains highly enjoyable and reminiscent of something you’d do halfway between The Wombats and Joy Division. An enthusiastic mope.
The band chats jovially in between songs. It seems characteristic of good relationships between the members. Mulally (synth) riffs on Bourke’s (vocals) comfortable stage persona, slyly promoting the frontman’s solo comedy festival show that he promises will be on after the gig.
One of my favourite moments was towards the end of the show when the band treated the audience to a marvellous cover of the late David Bowie’s hit ‘Let’s Dance’. The room was lit up and the mirror balls that adorn the ceilings of the Corner Hotel glittered spectacularly.
In all honesty, City Calm Down are one of my favourite bands and the fact their Australian tour is entirely sold out is a testament to their burgeoning mainstream popularity. Their album ‘In a Restless House’ is thoroughly worthy and rewarding of repeated listens.
Rian Chubb has virtually no knowledge of musical theory and is mostly making up words to describe things that throw him off his groove.