The Shabbab brought raucous energy to send off the Grace Darling Basement
Kicking off the night was new outfit Hearing who offered up twee and droning garage pop. Beneath the low ceilings aglow with fairy lights, the crowd swayed in unison to the sweetest kind of sad jams.
Next up was Truly Holy, who recently released their newest single, One Thousand Years. The four-piece provided expansive, shimmering soundscapes, culminating in crashing and explosive finales. It was easy to get lost within the dreamy, cruising build-ups, before being brought back to reality by shattering drums and weighty, complex guitars.
The final band and headlining act for the night was Melbourne garage heroes, The Shabbab. Despite being in high demand following the release of their recent LP Garlic, The Shabbab have still got the time of day for smaller shows. Perhaps most impressive is the fact that they bring the same level of raucous energy no matter where they play - whether it's a larger venue like The Tote, or something a little more low-key like Grace Darling's basement. In contrast to the down tempo efforts of the previous acts, The Shabbab burst out of the gates with the velocity for which they have become synonymous. Frontman Shuki Rosenboim wore his celebrated spandex shorts in the delightful hue of racing car red as he catapulted from the stage into the crowd of eager punters.
Each member of the band went balls-out ballistic, helmed by drummer Constantine Stefanou, who was simply going too hard to be hindered by a pesky shirt. The best way to describe Stefanou’s furious assault on the drum kit was to imagine Animal having a rage black out in the best possible way. Guitarist Said Choucair and bassist/organist Vito Lucarelli bolstered the set with equal fervour, as they ravaged their instruments during We Are Coming – lifted from Garlic – which like many of The Shabbab’s tracks, generates conversation on racism towards both immigrants and indigenous Australians. They also played some older material like Mi Casa from their self-titled EP, which had the crowd going bonkers.
The sets weren't technically perfect or stadium quality by any means – but that’s why these shows are so special. If you're looking for an organic way to engage with Melbourne's live music scene, these are the gigs where you'll find just that. Overall a ripper show to send off the much-loved basement, and a great way to cap off the weekend.
Words by Bel Ryan
Image by Ian Laidlaw
Highlight: Constantine Stefanou’s drumming.
Lowlight: Sneezing no less than six times during Truly Holy's set.
Crowd favourite: The entirety of The Shabbab’s set.