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Live Review: Calling All Cars, The Sinking Teeth, Super Best Friends

Calling all Cars

While the party-goers of Fortitude Valley were just getting started on pre-drinks, a small crowd gathered inside Alhambra Lounge for the final show of The Calling All Cars ‘Werewolves’ tour.

Not long after 8 pm Melbourne-based trio The Sinking Teeth took to the stage clad in Hawaiian shirts. The band stalled their way through technical difficulties early in the set, nervously cracking jokes with the aid of a plastic, pink, squealing pig. Tech-issues aside, The Sinking Teeth set the bar for the rest of the night by delivering every track with a passion and enthusiasm that was hard to match. 

After playing Fat As Butter festival in Newcastle that afternoon, Super Best Friends flew to Brisbane for their second gig of the day, an amicable feat by any means. Sadly, for Super Best Friends, this city hopping had resulted in the loss of a keyboard and a notable loss of energy. The opening track sounded like it belonged on a Jet album, so it felt like watching a different band altogether when the tone changed to angry punk songs about being middle-class. I grew bored quickly, and so did the majority of the crowd.  The band often looked as though they just wanted bed and, at that point, I'm sure I did too. I'll put it down to their super big day, but Super Best Friends left me less than impressed. 

The crowd inside Alhambra was growing steadily, and with pizza at the bar that was cheesy, delicious and, most importantly, free, why wouldn't it be? From balding, sweaty men in their fifties to hoards of girls who looked as though they took a wrong turn on the way to The Met, Calling All Cars had a varied sea of faces to look out to. 

From the second Calling All Cars bounded on stage, Alhambra Lounge became their playground. Singer Haydn Ing wants attention, and he knows exactly how to get it. Not yet two songs in and Ing was running through the crowd with his microphone stand and Fender Tele in tow. The crowd parted down the middle, careful not to trip over Ing's microphone cable, all-the-while sneaking each other confused glances - "what is this guy doing?!" No one was more confused than Alhambra bar-staff when Ing jumped atop the bar, where he performed the rest of "Werewolves" while bartenders served drinks to the side. A handful of fans rushed to the front with their smartphones, eager to snap an Instagram-worthy shot, and Ing loved every second of it. 

Since my last Calling All Cars encounter at ANZ Stadium, where they opened for AC/DC, the trio have refined their rockstar style and attitude. In skinny jeans and sporting slick undercuts, the Melbourne boys certainly look as though they belong on stage. While Calling All Cars may struggle to stand in front of a stadium crowd again, the crowd at Alhambra wasn't nearly big enough to accommodate for the band's bursting egos and dominating stage-presence.

After Ing's bar-top performance, I was convinced the craziness of the night had peaked. Each song bled into another and every thing was a little less exciting with the whole band back on stage. The atmosphere had dulled, and so did the lighting. Ing was growing increasingly frustrated, "Can I get some more light? It's fucking dark up here, all the bum-notes I'm playing tonight are because I can't see a thing". I daresay, however, a good portion of bum-notes were more to do with last-show-of-tour drinks than anything else. 

As the clock ticked closer to 11, more and more people started making their way inside the venue. Unfortunately, this was less about Calling All Cars and more about $4 vodka hour. Nevertheless, the band's enthusiasm perked back up as the night went on. Ing made his way back to the bar, where he poured beer over his face and thoroughly enjoyed himself while doing so. 

One again, the band was erupting with energy. All three band-members were literally bouncing off the walls (and the hanging lanterns of Alhambra). In the closing tracks, Calling All Cars were nothing short of chaotic. 

Stand-out tracks included "Animals" and the crowd's favourite sing-a-long, "She's Delirious", but it was hard to enjoy the music when I felt like I was watching a Foo Fighter's cover band. The band closed with "Reptile", which featured cameo appearances from The Sinking Teeth and a broken lantern. A crash of cymbals when Ing threw his Telecaster into the drum kit symbolised the end of the night. 

Calling All Cars is a band made to perform live. They are at home on the stage, and guaranteed to serve up an interesting night of fun antics and rock music that may have sounded better in the late 90s. There are plenty of worse places to be on a Saturday night than a Calling All Cars show. 

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