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Ball Park Music @ Jive - July 29, 2011

How I Met Ball Park Music? It was a night very similar to this. Stepping into Jive had immediately conjured up a sense of déjà vu, but the good kind, the kind where you know that good times will eventually follow through. It was back in October of last year that these happy campers opened for their fellow Brisbane compatriots, Hungry Kids of Hungary, at the very same place. At the time, having the first slot meant starting the night with a crowd of early birds who were mistakenly there for the drink specials or front-row hogging. But boy, were they in for a treat. Leaving quite an impression, Ball Park Music were back last Friday night, this time, on their very own headlining tour.

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If Brisbane has their Ball Park Music to satisfy their offbeat indie-popping fix, Adelaide’s got our very own 20th Century Graduates. The sextet, equipped with everything from a trombone to a melodica, took to the stage and started the night off with their own brand of shamelessly happy tunes. Playing local favourites, including Little Red Romance and Misery Jane, they proved that there wasn’t a band as suiting to open for the Brisbane collective. Even with their slower number, Lucky You, they still found a way to keep it melancholically upbeat, making sure that this wasn’t a night for the cross-armed devotees. There was also a sense of familiarity between the band and their audiences that occasioned that overall feel-good vibe throughout the set. The band rounded up with Keeping Up With The Joneses, proving that twee pop still got its quirks in the business.

 

 

Adelaide boys, City Riots, were next to make a presence onstage. The band had been supporting Ball Park Music this entire tour and was finally back in their hometown for the final leg. It seemed like an odd choice to have this pop-rock outfit sandwiched between the two twee bands. But, they didn’t have to wait long to prove that they were as infectiously catchy as the rest of the bands that night.

Delving into a heavier pop-rock sound, they allowed the crowd to calm down from the sugar high that was inflicted earlier by the 20th Century Graduates. A good move really, since it would’ve been quite painful to be forced to keep a smile the entire night and this surprisingly did not detract anything from their overall performance. The boys still delivered a high-energy performance throughout with front man, Ricky Kradolfer, belting out ‘she only likes me for my clothes’. The looping mantra to One Of Us Is Gonna Lose showcased the band’s ability to craft simple and yet extremely catchy tracks that resonated directly with those faced with the woes of indie first-world problems. Although 20th Century Graduates might’ve shared the same musical genre as the headliner, City Riots possessed a certain commercial viability similar to Ball Park Music that made it impossible to not like them.

The four-piece outfit definitely proved that they were more than just pretty faces in skin-tight jeans as they closed the set with their Triple J’s hit single, She Never Wants To Dance.  And it was as if they truly hit the right note, the crowd who appeared slightly tamed throughout the set convulsed into a dancing frenzy with several being able to recite the lyrics along to Kradolfer. They lured the crowd back into that same high that was present the entire night, a perfect atmosphere in anticipation for the main act.

It was all game for Ball Park Music from the get-go as they emerged on stage to one of the most impressive opening-backing tracks to date, an auto-tuned rendition of the band reciting, ‘what’s up Adelaide, we’re Ball Park Music’, highlighting the band’s tongue-in-cheek attitude that the fans were waiting for. The crowd loved it as they flooded onto the dance floor. The six-piece outfit didn’t slow down either as they opened with their hit track, iFly, and had every one singing along. Front man, Sam Cromack and bassist, Jennifer Boyce, had this chemistry between them and the audiences that kept you fixated on their performance. That charm never seemed to falter even as the set progressed onto other numbers, including It’s Nice to Be Alive and their brand new song, Glass Jar, co-written by Cromack and Boyce themselves.

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Aside from the quirky lyrics and the eclecticism that warranted the band apart from the rest of their genre was definitely Cromack’s stage presence. Without catching a breath, Cromack moved frantically onstage, one minute he was on the floor, the next he was climbing the microphone stand with help from guitarist, Brock Smith. Cromack knew exactly how to keep the crowd on their feet, making sure that every one in the room was having a good time. There was so much swag in the man and the way he danced that watching him summoned an eerie resemblance to watching the legendary Jarvis Cocker perform. This vibe of 90’s nostalgia seemed to be present throughout their set, especially when the band decided to throw in a cover of The Presidents of the United States of America’s hit single, Peaches and had the crowd singing in unison.

And as if the hits just kept on coming, the Brisbane collective ended their set with another fan-favourite, Sad Rude Future Dude, having the crowd celebrate their mutual appreciation for self-love. This of course, prompted the crowd to demand an encore from this extraordinary sextet, in which they happily returned with Cromack and Smith shirtless to complete one last number for the night. Ball Park Music is like Zoloft for a scene that has been overwhelmed by despondent indie troubadours wailing on with their sad ballads in the past years. The party never seemed to end with them and once you’ve witnessed their performance, you’ll fucking love Ball Park Music too.

Noomie Tiwutanond - AAA Backstage

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