Event Listing (SA)
Steering By Stars, Fire! Santa Rosa, Fire!
The first thing I notice is the art hanging on the red curtain at the back of the stage. It’s hard not to. A white bed sheet attacked by primary colours: It looks like Jackson Pollock’s tried to design a Twister board. It seems strangely out of place in a venue with a pumpkin-coloured lino floor.
Despite the weather warnings and bone-chilling winds blowing down Hindley Street in Adelaide’s CBD, Jive is packed for the arrival of Fire! Santa Rosa, Fire! who – after gaining national airplay with songs like ‘War Coward’ and ‘Little Cowboys, Bad Hombres’ – seem to have developed a cult local following. Acting in the role of no-stress support act tonight, it’s the most relaxed I’ve ever seen the sextet. The sound is clear – you can hear every word of their diminutive lead singer Caitlin Duff – and the band appears to be enjoying the hell out of it. Most of the set is lifted from their debut record Sea Priest, a study in how many ways an outfit can contort the diaphanous definition of indie music. Most of the time, Fire! Santa Rosa, Fire! prefer a heavily processed sound, with a frenetic attack of effects-laden guitars, but they air one new song tonight that suggests they might be paring their sound back in the future. It’s jokingly referred to as “power folk”.
Steering By Stars are naturally more moody and introverted than their wise-cracking support. Their predilection for drama and grandiose melodies manifests itself in music that you could lazily brand as “post rock”, existing somewhere between Somersault-era Decoder Ring and the distorted moments of Explosions In The Sky. At least that’s what I took away from their debut album Cables. Tonight, they opt to showcase mainly new material, which is more aggressive and rhythmic than the album’s tracks. They marry reverberated, druggy vocals (reminiscent of Fabulous Diamonds or Naked On The Vague) with big guitar melodies and strong, incessant rhythms.
However, it’s not all smooth sailing for the four-piece, who are launching their debut record tonight. Sound problems dog the beginning of their set, plus the sleeves haven’t arrived for the vinyl copies of their album yet. Steering By Stars also suffer from the innate problem that a lot of symphonic, instrumental acts are plagued by: They sound like they should be the soundtrack for something visual – and I’m not talking about an abstract painting of a Twister board. Incorporating visuals, while an obvious choice, might’ve engaged the audience a bit more.
Musically, Steering By Stars are an interesting aberration from traditional post rock. The challenge for them now is to create a captivating live show and take it to the rest of the country.
by Dom Alessio
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