Against the backdrop of a global pandemic, the sound of warm jangly guitars and sweet-sounding vocals invaded my world. It was the first time I had consciously heard Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, and I fell in love. Yes, I was late to the party but better late than never.
Two years later, I was finally able to stand on The Gov’s sticky floor to watch the Melbourne five-piece perform live.
After an awesome set from Hooper Crescent, a band also from Melbourne, Fran Keaney, Tom Russo, Joe White, Joe Russo, and Marcel Tussie enthusiastically bounded onto the stage. Launching into Bellarine, we immediately entered a magical musical cocoon that would encase us for ninety minutes. It was a glorious cocoon filled with warm, vivid, and dynamic jangle pop sounds that invited you to nod your head, sway your body, and dance freely.
Second of the First, Beautiful Steven, and She’s There were the first tastes from Sideways to New Italy, the 2020 release this tour was designed to promote. It may have taken two years to get to this point, but it was worth it to hear almost the entire album plus some older and newer songs.
The Air Conditioned Man and Talking Straight from 2018’s Hope Downs lifted the energy of The Gov up a notch. The mosh pit was alive and kicking as a chorus of voices sang, “Lay back, sink in/ You’re not talking straight.” It was glorious!
With a new album, Endless Rooms, slated for release in May, we were treated to a couple of small highlights from it. Tidal River and The Way it Shatters certainly wet the whistle and left a lingering feeling of anticipation. Nevertheless, there was no denying we wanted to hear the old school songs. The ones not heard live for years or ever, as the case may be.
With the stage bathed in purple and orange hues, a dreamy musical intro welcomed us into Falling Thunder. It was the ideal time to close your eyes, sway and feel the music within the venue. With the mellow Sunglasses at the Wedding, the calmness continued before The Only One, and The Cool Change saw the pace trajectory increase again.
Cars in Space, the 2020 song of the year, in my opinion, had everyone feverishly dancing again. Hearing that sensational bridge lead up to the emotional final verse come to life was everything and more. The notion of heartbreak in the final two minutes of the song felt very real.
As captivating as it was to hear the musical excellence of Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, it was equally fascinating to watch Keaney, White, Mussie and the brothers Russo play them. The comfort of performing together for years was abundantly evident. The performance appeared effortless. Each seemed intrinsically grounded in their own world yet remained connected to the bigger group. When they consciously came together, with Mussie and his drumkit serving as the backbone, there was a visual harmony to complement the aural.
Cameo, with its pop sentiments, lightened the overall vibe. It prepared us for the onslaught of the final few songs, including Mainland and Fountain of Good Fortune, that ostensibly concluded the main set.
As French Press played, beer flew across the dancefloor, crowd surfers floated above the mosh, and the temperature rapidly rose as hundreds of bodies danced in unison. It was a quintessential The Gov experience, and it was wonderful.
In response to chants of “one more song,” the band unexpectedly ran back out onto the stage and dropped Clean Slate. It wrapped up a long-overdue and brilliant night of entertainment.
Live Review By Anita Kertes