Gig Review: Dick Diver

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Dick Diver

Who: Dick Diver

Where: The Corner Hotel, Melbourne

When: July 5th 2013

Local independent imprint Chapter Music has been ongoing in some form or other since the mid ’90s, and whose current roster would be considered the envy of many like minded labels. The proof of that comes in the form of this evenings three pronged assault, as local favourites Dick Diver – who are supporting their acclaimed second album ‘Calendar Days’ – have brought along The Stevens and The Twerps, for this long sold out and highly anticipated night of indie-popdom.

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Travis MacDonald

I’d only been introduced to The Stevens a week or so before this evening, due to a mate lending me a copy of their recently re-issued, self titled, 6 track debut e.p. Due to it only being about fifteen minutes, I’ve lost count the amount of times I’d listened to it before tonight’s gig. Indie pop sensibilities and home recorded sounds, as well as their numerous influences – which to me includes the likes of lo-fi luminaries Yo La Tengo and Guided By Voices – are all quite evident throughout this release. Which tick all the right boxes as far as this writer is concerned! All four members; Alex Macfarlane – guitar/vox, Travis MacDonald – guitar, Gus Lord – bass and Matthew Harkin – drums, took to the stage not long after 9pm and kicked right into their jangly guitar inspired set. For a band with just the one release, they’d been given half an hour to fill, so they peppered their set with a couple of e.p. tracks, as well as some unnamed numbers from their soon to be released debut full length album. There was a bit of banter in between songs, which for me was the only real time you could clearly make out what they were saying, as unfortunately the vocals – be they Macfarlane’s or the various harmonising they do so well on record – were lost in the mix most of the time. Still there were far more positives than that one wee niggle, to take away from their brief appearance.

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Frawley – in motion

Next up were The Twerps, who’d impressed me a lot when I’d witnessed them in the Northcote Social Club two months previous. There wasn’t too much standing room left by the time Marty Frawley, Rick Milovanovic, Julia MacFarlane, took to the stage. I then noticed they had a change of drummer, with The Steven’s vocalist Alex Macfarlane – a sibling of Julia’s perhaps? – slotting in, to bash seven shades of shite out of the skins for the entire set. Their performance, just like the first time I saw them, included tracks from their impressive debut album, as well as a littering of a few new untitled songs, just for good measure. The first number was to me, very similar to that of Camper Van Beethoven’s ‘hit’ “Take the Skinheads Bowling”. Julia then took over lead vocals for “This Guy”, and held a look of pure concentration, whilst still delivering the tune with ease. The large crowd were really enjoying the performance thus far, and gave a pretty positive response to one of the newer slow paced tracks, which had a very distinct  early Velvet Underground guitar vibe to it. “Dreaming” was then belted out by Frawley, who was in a very jokey frame of mood for the night, something that was prevalent in all three bands really. It was quite evident that The Twerps were having just as much fun on stage as we were off it. “Who Are You” made an appearance at some stage, with its line “we’ll get drunk we’ll get stoned we’ll get high we’ll get drunk and I know, it doesn’t matter to you…” being sung back by the rather enthusiastic audience.

Dick Diver who as mentioned before, were here to promote their second record ‘Calander Days’ then entered the fray shortly after 11pm, and were dressed in all black. Just as was the case with The Stevens before them, I wasn’t too aware of their music up until very recently, unlike the rest of this sold out audience. The band consists of dual guitarists Alastair McKay and Rupert Edwards, with bassist Al Monfort and Steph Hughes on drums, making up the remainder. The latter two are in other local acts such as UV Race/Total Control and Boomgates/Children Collide respectively, and this sort of multi-band swapping collective, is very reminiscent of Dublin’s own Popical Island set up back home, where folks involved directly in that label also play in numerous bands.

SAM_1620They opened up with a triple whammy of ‘Calander Days’ songs “Bondi 98”, “Alice” and “Water Damage”, which highlighted their obvious ability to write incredibly catchy and discordant guitar driven gems. It also allowed Hughes to bring that little bit extra to the vocal table, when she shared the lead duties during the latter. That introduction set the tone for the rest of the set, one which the audience were more than happy to witness, and one that continued during “Lime Green Shirt” and “Blue & That”. It was a performance which also involved alot of quirky humour and all round silliness from the 3 lads, albeit a little more often from bassist Monfort especially during his sax playing during “Head Back”, from debut album ‘New Start Again’.

Two extra bodies appeared on stage for the slower paced “Boys”, a scenario which led to Monfort grabbing the mic, thus allowing his drawl and comedic antics to come to the fore. Hughes then moved onto guitar – the swapping of instruments was a regular occurrence during their set – and lead vocals for some tunes, including “Calendar Days”, and proved that she can do scuzzy guitar sounds as good as the other members. The main set finished up with”Flying Teatowel Blues” from ‘New Start Again’ which contained alot of squealing guitars and messy feedback from McKay and Edwards as they seemingly tried to out-noise each other until its end. They returned briefly to play “Keno”, which finished up the night in the same upbeat, sing-a-long and jangly guitar way it had begun. A thoroughly triumphant gig by all involved, one which had everyone leaving extremely satisfied, and finally, it highlighted just how strong current local scene is here in Melbourne.

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