I have a general liking for Alhambra Lounge, which saw the kick off of the Strange Geronimo Tour. Its size is deceptive, with the bar area and furniture making it seem smaller than it actually is. But there’s plenty of dance space and a big seated section off to the left of the stage. Despite this, it’s still quite an intimate venue, with a not quite high enough stage and a layout which forces you to pass the stage whether you’re heading to the bathroom, smoker’s area or the exit. It’s definitely a good choice for local artists.
Nestled at the back on a little red couch I’d scabbed for myself, I sipped at my non-alcoholic beverage and watched as The Lesser Bilby opened the night’s musical offerings. Whilst not pushing any new boundaries, the band played through some upbeat, riff driven tunes that certainly got me warmed up. Their guitar effects brought an early 90’s British tang to their sound, which I always have a soft spot for. The music is engaging to be built into a really good stage show one day – keep an eye on them.
Fellow Brisbanites Hey Geronimo looked casual as they strolled onto the stage. Without warning that distinctive sound kicked in and the venue became a wash with keys and drums. Anybody who has seen or heard them before will be familiar with their intricate vocal harmonies, which accent neatly with their percussion.
The follow up to the opener was a song, whose refrain about being “in love with a girl like you,” was believably sung thanks to the charisma of lead singer Pete Kilroy. No doubt a hit with the ladies, it was a shame that Alhambra was far from capacity: the curse of hosting the opening gig of a tour. This was also the first public performance featuring bass player “Bingers”. He really looked the part of the band, despite being the newbie, and I was impressed by his stage presence. Although it helped that he was more lit up than even the singer.
The band ran through several new songs, many of which build off the sounds in the first EP. The thing that appeals to me about Hey Geronimo is that they are not afraid to joke around, and they do so without becoming a parody of their own image. Consider the homage to Griffith University bookshop, wryly introduced as: ‘Co-op Bookshop’. Even their slowest song of the night was fueled by an amusing anecdote about a band member’s car (it was undoubtedly tragic at the time).
This show also proved that the group’s latest release ‘The Dan Kelly Song’ is sure to be a live favourite with its catchy melodies and quirky lyrics. Although at times it felt like the audience was watching a rehearsal more than show (the first gig curse again), everybody seemed thoroughly entertained. The lads finished with their biggest hit “Why Don’t We Do Something?’ which is a perfect set finisher with its dance-able beat and catchy lyrics.
Strange Talk of course headlined the night. They were a pleasant surprise for me – although I’d heard a couple of their tracks before, I wasn’t really sure how they were going to translate those sounds live. But their set was highly enjoyable. Not that it was an especially memorable performance, nor a particularly dynamic stage show. But I enjoyed them, in the same way as one would enjoy a DJ set. Their music gives you the option of dancing and really getting involved, or if you’re a more passive attendee, sitting comfortably and sipping your cocktail of choice. Their music is such you don’t look out of place either way.
I think part of the reason for this, whether good or bad, is the moderate use of samples, which takes away some of the excitement you expect from watching a live band. After the energy of Hey Geronimo, this actually worked for me and I basked in the ambience of the venue. It was nice to see a singer perform with such enthusiasm and genuine pleasure for the Alhambra patrons, although after a while the songs seemed to be a bit indistinguishable in terms of feel. All in all though it was definitely a set I’d recommend to anyone.
Alhambra is a great place for live music, but I wish they would do justice to their acts with some better stage lighting. They have a variety of big and small acts play there and wouldn’t take much investment for them to make the stage look less bland. Particularly in such a stylishly themed venue, which has better acoustics then many.
The Strange Geronimo Tour continues until Saturday July 13. If you’re from Brisbane and missed out seeing locals Hey Geronimo, keep an eye out for their next EP, to be released later this year. You can also check out Mind the Music’s interview with singer Pete Kilroy here.