Last Friday I ventured out to see Melbourne band Strange Talk perform at their EP launch, and their first, sold out show. It had all the elements to be a great night – an excited crowd and two great supports in Loon Lake and the Streetparty DJs The Smoking Toddlers – but it turned out to be rather disappointing.
I think the worst thing about seeing a hyped band is the expectation that they are going to wow your socks off, and then when they don’t, well…it sucks. That’s exactly what it was like with Strange Talk. Having listened to their synth-pop single ‘Climbing Walls’ over and over, and hearing Triple J harp on about them, I thought they would have had their performance down pat, but there wasn’t much diversity within their set. Most of the tracks sounded like a less groovy version of Bag Raiders, and unlike the Sydney house maestros, these guys bordered on being cheesy.
The crowd seemed to enjoy themselves, but whether it was due to the flow of cheap beer, or the actual performance, was hard to tell. Lead singer Stephen Docker, despite having had vocal training, wasn’t that impressive, and his showy performance did not seem to fit with the rest of the band who were continually jumping about like little kids, and making interpretive hand movements. Although they were lively and were obviously excited about having a sold out show, Docker sucked the fun out of the set by announcing that he was ‘pissed’ and that we should all be jumping.
Newly released single ‘Eskimo Boy’ was an interesting song, but at times it was hard to make out what was being sung. ‘Climbing Walls’ was also a letdown live. Their live versions just didn’t match up to the punchy and danceable sound on recordings. One thing that may have stopped them from making the night intolerable was a cover of ‘Hella Good’ by No Doubt, but it was only because of the song itself, not their rendition of it. The original has a recognizable bass and drum hook, but for majority of Strange Talk’s electrified version, I had no idea what they were playing. When Docker finally got to the chorus (and when I had an epiphany about what they were covering), his vocals were really stretched, and it looked like he was struggling. By the end of the set I couldn’t find much to be excited about.
The one good thing about the night was seeing Loon Lake. The local boys have done extremely well for themselves recently supporting The Drums and The Last Dinosaurs, and scoring a slot for Red Riders’ final show in Melbourne. All I can say is the praise they are getting is well deserved. They really put on a show, with their summery tunes, and they managed to get everyone bopping with their enthusiasm and unique performance style. They are definitely a band to keep an eye on.
Radhika Chopra is a Bachelor of Journalism student at La Trobe University and is a member of the upstart editorial team.