On Friday, 14 October, I came along to the Enmore Theatre to see Sydney-based wunderkinds DMA’S strut their stuff to a sold out venue. It was the second last night of their recent tour that had seen them traipsing around Australia with Adelaide rockers Bad//Dreems as their support act.
Both these bands play a role in the fabric of the Australian psyche. They write songs that connect with the Australian people – giving hope, inspiration, a moment to day dream, a moment to reflect on life and their emotions and become a part of a larger group with shared experiences and understanding.
These bands are helping Australians to keep their head above water. I saw a whole theatre be taken up in the arms of these seemingly ordinary Australian men and soar to heavenly heights of joy and camaraderie - and this is just the audience. The bands reap benefits from their creativity as well – a medium to express their thoughts, feelings, emotions along with a tight bond with their fellow band members. All of this and more I witnessed on Friday night.
Bad//Dreems opened with the gritty, grungy rollicking “New Boys” with gusto. The crowd rushed to the stage as the band stepped onto it. “Cuffed and Collared” took things up a notch with its ballsy chorus intensifying the jostling and dancing of the crowd.
I watched it all from above in my front row seat in the lounge area upstairs. Usually I am down in the mosh pit for these guys at a smaller venue like The Standard, Spectrum, Newtown Social Club, or Rocket Bar in their home town of Adelaide, so tonight was a different experience for me. I felt so far away from them in this big theatre but they definitely reached out to me with their tight as usual performance and filling the distance with their larger than life, loveable, knock-about personas. They played in a bouncy style, getting into their zone, performing intently but with enjoyment. Lead singer and guitarist, Benny led the way with his vocals and guitar work while the other guys Alex, James and Miles, came together as a well-greased unit.
“Hoping For” – a truly cracking love song - was snuck in after “Cuffed and Collared”. It received a great response, with lots of singing from the punters. Then came “By My Side” the first of two new songs that will be on the next album. It received a quieter response but still good for something that most people there that night would not have heard before.
An inter-band bonding moment then occurred with Johnny from DMA’S coming on to sing “My Only Friend” with Benny. Matt, also from DMA’S came on stage towards the end of the song to lend his vocals. There was lots of dancing, cheering and clapping in the audience. Benny and Johnny hugged at the end and like true mates, Benny followed this up with a “get the fuck off”.
“Bogan Pride” came up next. During its awesome extended guitar and drum intro, Benny strode around, playing up to the crowd. He continued to do this throughout the song, clowning around and playing up to “big muscles” chorus – poking fun at that whole sub culture of tough guys who love working out on their big muscles. He is an entertaining frontman who gets into the songs, interacting with passion and humour. From above I saw dancing and clapping ripple across the room.
“Mob Rule” the other song played off the forthcoming album was received very well. Lots of jumping up and down and joining in with the dramatic catch cry chorus of “Mob Rule”. It was an impressive moment and the song came over with a big punch.
Punters kept pouring in during the set and joined in without hesitation as song after song rolled on. We heard “Hiding to Nothing” – lots of singing coming from the audience, before it all broke out on the dancefloor – very hectic. The classic break-up song “Bad Ideas” was a terrific song to end with – it gave the audience such a high with its energetic classic Aussie rock style.
And then there was DMA’s to follow opening with “Play It Out” to a roar of cheers and applause. By this stage Enmore Theatre was chockers, totally earning the status of Sold Out.
I felt as if I was at a Beatles concert. The adoration and adulation of DMA’s was tangible, a force not to be reckoned with. Tommy has this knack of egging the crowd on with his all-embracing outstretched arms. In this gesture he takes the crowd in with him for a big hug. This is what I feel people are responding to with DMA’s – the inclusiveness, the group sing along session and, of course, the lyrics. Tommy owns the stage while Johnny and Matt go off with their guitar playing.
I was totally blown away by the big production feel of the concert. The band has doubled in size for this tour and all night we were treated to a light show worthy of Muse with an array of full on strobe lighting effects.
The guys built momentum as they went from “Melbourne” to “Feels Like 37." Tommy danced around on stage, continuing to play to the crowd. DMA's brought a different vibe to the crowd after the chaotic Bad//Dreems set. It felt like a spiritual religious gathering with Tommy as the charismatic preacher. He gathered his followers and captured their imagination. In the middle of the set DMA’s threw in a “new” song – a cosmic cover of Madonna’s “Beautiful Strangers”. Hard to know if the younger ones knew it wasn’t an original for DMA’s.
A quieter musical interlude began with just Tommy and Johnny (strumming his acoustic guitar) on stage for "Delete," the rest of the band having gone off stage. A few bars in, Matt joined them with his electric guitar. There was so much love for the guys – it was quite an amazing moment to see. We had people crowd surfing while others had climbed on top of their mates’ shoulders. A joyful mellow feeling abounded as phones were held up like lighter flames. The rest of the band came back on stage to join in for the last chorus. Once again the big open arms of Tommy brought everyone together as he thanked one and all for coming before they all left the stage.
The crowd went nuts to think they weren’t going to hear another song and started chanting the band's name. The final song of the night, when the band returned to rapturous applause, was "Lay Down." The song filled the theatre with uplifted voices of the audience singing their little hearts out. Nothing better in my mind – we all left in high spirits, spilling out onto Enmore Road with love in our hearts.
Anyone who doubts the importance of live music needs to come along to the next DMA’s concert to see how the power of music can heal a broken soul.
Photos by Annette Geneva.