Sounds Of The Suburbs

Chris Coulter
9th Oct 2014

There’s a thick fug of incense around Sounds Of The Suburbs today, as the sun beats down on a conglomeration of Sydney’s beautiful young things. The atmosphere is pure West Coast Cali’ circa ’68, the soundtrack is a fairly heady mixture of some of Sydney’s newest and brightest interspersed with a handful of touring bands.

The Owls are loud, riotous, glorious, unapologetic garage rock, all peaked caps, beat up vans and snotty attitude. A little bit Black Lips but with the chops and the songs to hold their own, this was a short but immensely energetic set that ended with the lead singer throwing himself through the drum kit and wrestling the guitarist to the floor. Fun.

The Babe Rainbow sound a lot like The Kinks whenever they were exploring more psychedelic territory. Taking the main stage at the height of the the afternoon only helped to emphasize their sun soaked, lackadaisical, reverb-laden shtick. “Love Forever” was a crowd pleasing highlight. Far out.

Straight outta the US, Tomorrows Tulips undoubtedly have the worst name here today and the lead singer must get compared to Kurt Cobain all the time but hopefully they don’t mind either of the aforementioned. It’s light, jangly, forgettable pop that gets heads nodding but little else. Someone stole all their merchandising money the night before, the lead singer bemoans. Hold your cap out sunshine. 

 Hockey Dad play on the El Sol stage and they’ve clearly had a few before sound check. They manage to get it together long enough to play a surprisingly accomplished set with some of the best drum work of the day, that guy thrashed his kit to within an inch of its life. Rougher sounding than their recordings but unhinged and barely held together musical joy nonetheless.

Looking like Sebastien Tellier after a quick shave and a massive rip off a bong it’s Gap Dream. One man, many synths, wonky electronic beats, questionable vocals but tonnes of enthusiasm and smiles all round. Constantly stopping to high five the front row this guy is ace and provides a break from all the guitar noise today.  

Burn Antares unashamedly borrow from the late 60s and early 70s and that right on, breezy AM rock sound. They are also very, very good. Tight and with solid musicianship they draw a big crowd and a lot more dancing than for most of the other acts today. Sure, somewhere in the world Jefferson Airplane’s collective ears are pricking up but this soundtracks the day perfectly.

Sounds of the Suburbs is a great DIY festival that celebrates all of what makes events like this good. A pizza oven hastily thrown together in an empty corner, tinnies floating in baths of ice, hand printed t-shirts, beat up pinball machines, milk crates casually strewn about for you to take a load off and not least the music: a wonderful showcase of smaller bands making it on their own terms. I may reek of incense for days to come but I leave with a sense that anything is possible if you’re willing to just have a go. Righteous. 

Sounds of the Suburbs was held in Cronulla, on 28 September 2014.