The Delta Riggs @ Northcote Social Club
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The Delta Riggs @ Northcote Social Club

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Melbourne-based urban bruisers The Delta Riggs seem to be thriving in their purpose-built junction connecting the stuff of blues contemporaries and swag-rock fetishists. They’re concerned first with filling out whatever dive they may own for a while and little room is given for hipster moderates chasing sweaty Casablancas navel.  Friday night saw them pad out the Northcote Social with adventurous grit and thankfully, sex flowed as an undercurrent to hardy riffs and funky hats. Basically they’re aloof so as to stir the faithful, which happened.    

Atolls – a trio – have this lovably awkward group stance that looks mighty well rehearsed, sort of like they’re half-sitting on a trampoline.  One can’t call them out on it though; their bent sounds across the board like bumbling tropic-rock so the consistency works.  Vocalist Lucas Skinner got muddled in a shallow slap-back delay and died well before hitting plaster metres adjacent.  He didn’t look fussed about trailing away though, having to pull double duty with warby loop-pedal sections and a particularly stubborn E string that wouldn’t flatten.  Bassist Oli Grinter kept the boom tight within millimetres, offering counter-melodic runs to Skinner’s crunchy chord work and steadying Sam Ingles all the while.  The three ended with a whimper not far from their bang start, deferring to Dinosaur Jr. feedback loops as a means to improvise without any real conviction.

Elliott Hammond brought an adequate dose of swagger to his lot.  Arm swung lackadaisically over mic stand – in a blocking-out-the-sun kind of way – the near skeletal frontman leaned into impossible poses to deliver his white-hot-gained cries.  The quintet worked through their catalogue with pacing in mind, leading with tracks America and Time as a means to debut new material thereafter.  Tambourine-shakers were made of the two supporting guitar players from song to song and they waved their tools to bring much needed urban meat.  Hammond leapt from keys stage-left to centre-stage almost arbitrarily. Lead guitar parts, for all their limited use, were lost in the collective wall of sound and for the most part the space did not call for more.

It’s difficult to say where The Delta Riggs will sit in a commercial sense should their appeal continue to grow.  Perhaps given their following and the nature of their devil-may-care ethos, the scene they currently own will lift their work higher than any deal of airplay.  The originality in this band is seen and heard in the flesh, where visual hints of testosterone and machismo add a tertiary layer to their aggressive shtick. 

BY NATHAN HEWITT

Loved: Hammond waxing nostalgic about an inability to find his substance dealer on weekends.
Hated: Sam Ingles’ horribly tuned popcorn-maker snare drum.
Drank: Few pots of Carlton on tap.