When I walked into FBi Social, there was a guy on stage talking about Fairy Meadows. I thought for a moment that was his name, which would have been cute, but found out later it’s actually Jackson McLaren. He said he didn’t have a setlist worked out for the gig and is “A lazy musician. A broke, lazy musician. A broke, lazy, hungover musician,” which gets a good laugh from the slowly-filling FBi Social Club.
The strangest part of the set was when he told a story about someone getting injured at a party and went into great detail about the blood he saw. The story was such a sharp contrast to the lovely imagery he’d created in his previous songs but a perfect intro to the song ‘Oh My God, I Know.’
He calls up a girl from the crowd to play violin and we see her later on stage with Inland Sea. McLaren finishes up his set with the catchy and funky song ‘Farewell This House’ that makes me think of driving to the beach during summer holidays. His lyrics are full of description and he takes us with him to all sorts of places.
Inland Sea cram their ten members on the small FBi Social stage and for a moment I think it’s going to be a disaster. A cello, a violin, a mixture of guitars and drums and five singers, could sound like a mess if one note is missed. But I needn’t have worried.
Inland Sea were note perfect in every bar and harmony they put together. It’s a struggle for them to move at times as they change positions and instruments but they make the most of the little space they have. They create a beautiful atmosphere and during second song ‘All Fall Down’ remind me of a Hillsong Church choir – but in a good way. The crowd quietens down during third song ‘No Time’ from their new EP. For a moment I forgot I was meant to be reviewing the show since I was so captivated by what was happening on stage.
We’re introduced to Beau Frith, who looks a bit like Alan from The Hangover, and he sings the slightly more upbeat and heavier ‘The Only One’. They finish the set with a hoedown-feeling song and urge everyone to “come and dance!” Though it must be hard to have ten people dance and play on a small stage, they pull it off, and finish up their flawless set.
The Rescue Ships arrive on stage and tell a story about a rude security guard they encountered and say the next song is called ‘I Hate You’ just for him. Though the sound was perfect for Inland Sea and Jackson McLaren, The Rescue Ships experience a little feedback early on.
This is quickly fixed and we’re able to hear the rest of their set clearly. The whole gig feels like a big party, since it’s the last one of the tour, and The Rescue Ships tell us funny stories about “guys on pingers” in Wollongong and “deep-throating equipment” in Manly.
The bass player has just turned 21, so they celebrate with shots and sing Happy Birthday. The crowd doesn’t sing until guitarist Brian Campeau yells “You guys suck, sing!”
Their banter with the crowd is better than Inland Sea’s but The Rescue Ships don’t quite create the atmosphere Inland Sea did. It seems I’m not the only who thinks this, singer Elana Stone told a story about someone who said Inland Sea were amazing but The Rescue Ships are just “good” and feels a little inferior.
But there doesn’t appear to be any negativity between the two bands as everyone gets up to dance during catchy single ‘On The Air’, the band’s last song before an encore. The Rescue Ships come back to do a cover of Rufus Wainright’s ‘Vibrate’. The band sing it well and sound great doing it, but it’s a bit of a downer and a sombre end to an otherwise fun and folkish set.