After 10 years of releasing some of Australia and New Zealand’s finest independent records, Casa Del Disco are celebrating this weekend at the Tote by bringing two of their most beloved acts, Sommerset and Blueline Medic, back to the stage for two days. Filling out an eclectic Friday night lineup is local instrumental act Margins, and Melbourne’s quietest noise band Harmony.
Margins bring an uncommon ambience to the Tote. Seated on stage, the four piece’s atmospheric, restrained music is complemented by the warm glow from the fairy lights draped over the foldbacks. They slowly work into their set, their songs unfolding into beautifully understated melodies. Obvious influences of post-rock like Slint pop into mind, but it seems like Margins steer away from the building epic moments, their songs offering something subtler and more refined, with a surprisingly dynamic live show. Fans of Arrows would get a lot out of this band.
Six-piece musical chimaera Harmony are a hard band to sum up neatly. Equal parts chaos and quiet, the three-part female vocals frame Tom Lyngcoln’s distinctively raw guitar playing, with the impressively tight rhythm section holding the wandering, often raucous songs together. Cacophonous Vibes could be considered their signature track: a sweetly sung intro leads into Tom’s ragged delivery, moving through an almost delicate melody before exploding into a chorus that’s all percussive guitar, cymbal crash and soaring vocals. Heartache is another standout track, the pared back drumming a lesson in understatement as Lyngcoln throws himself about the stage.
The Tote is packed out by the time Blueline Medic take the stage, the audience eagerly awaiting their first show with a full lineup since the Arthouse closed last year. It’s straight into it from the outset, and all of a sudden everyone’s forgotten how long it’s been since Blueline played and remembered all the words Making the Nouveau Riche instead. The whole band is in fantastic form; it’s shaping up to be a ripper of a set when halfway through a fuse blows and takes out the vocal P.A and the stage lights.
As the sound tech tries to find the problem it becomes clear that it’s a fairly serious issue, and after weighing up the options the band decide to play on through. Without the PA, Donnie Dureau takes the front of the stage and does his best to lead the audience through the last few songs. It’s an impressive effort, and he mostly manages to pull it off with the crowd singing over the band on Plight 217 and others, before winding up to make way for Sommerset the band looking slightly disappointed.
Arguably New Zealand’s most well known hardcore band, it’s been a good long while since Sommerset last played in Australia. The sound tech manages to get the PA back up and running and it’s all systems go. Playing a brand of rock and roll that harks back to the heyday of late-90s punk and hardcore, the crowd is all stage dives and sing-alongs as Sommerset blast through their extensive back catalogue.
Despite being on hiatus for the last few years, nothing seems to have dampened their energy on stage. Say What You Want, the title track from their last record in 2004, gets a heartfelt response. It’s great seeing Sommerset after 17 years as a band still put on a live performance full of passion and enthusiasm that overshadows plenty of fresher acts. The folks at Casa Del Disco have pulled off a great two days of gigs, the eclectic lineup tonight at the sold-out Tote showcasing the broad range of their releases, and despite the PA disaster Blueline Medic and Sommerset both managed to pull off great shows.
Live Review by Shaun Thatcher