Words Ian Hawkins
On what was really a dreary Saturday night, I rolled up at one of Melbourne’s classic venues, the Toff in Town, to catch a young band by the name of White Summer, with little more than a buzz and a new single, ‘Smoke Screen’ fanning my curiosity.
I arrived just in time to catch main support Citizen Sex, a four piece Melbourne boogie punk band. The role of the front man is more than that of a singer, taking on the job of performance artist. Right from the word go Robert F.Coleman had all eyes on him, with the threshold of the stage and dance floor immediately blurred. This suitably odd ball entertainer was backed by a solid band that laid down a groove to swing to; nothing out-landish, but solidly dance-able. In a uniform of white Citizen Sex shirts and black jeans the band warmed up that empty pocket in front of the stage that afflicts every support band. Highlights included the tracks ‘Macho’ and ‘Sausage Roll’ that brought their set to a rockin’ end.
As Citizen Sex cleared the way for the headliner, the room swelled with young and old.
The curtain dropped and gave way to a dark stage, lit only with a spotlight pointing down on singer Jimmy Stanfield, silhouetted beneath a cowboy hat, egg shaker in hand. Some basic production value really enhanced what was an explosive entrance, as the band kicked in with dirty rock’n’roll. I was instantly blown away by the thick, fat vibes of the guitarist Michael Barnsley’s resonator, an old school swampy blues guitar pumped up with beef. Hailing from the blue waters of Phillip Island, these boys have clearly had a lot of time on their hands to bring that rum swiggin’ blues into a new time. Imagine catchy indie rock tunes, injected with the soul and tall tales of the delta. Being the home state leg of their ‘Smoke Screen’ single tour, the audience interaction was high, with booze flowing and hips shaking. I would’ve liked a deeper bass line to enhance the groove that was driven along by Alex Zielke’s pounding toms. Locked in with brother Anthony on bass, the band had a great tightness re-enforced by great stage presence. My personal highlight was ‘Head In The Sand’ taken from their previous album, such a natural melody. Needless to say, the sound at the Toff was great, and I came away excited and blown away by what I’d just seen.