REVIEW: The Murlocs roll on at The Small Ballroom

The Murlocs The Small Ballroom – Wednesday 2nd August

While this may come across a little blunt, I have to ask…if you weren’t at The Murlocs on Wednesday night, what were you doing with your life? Was there an outrageous drinks special on at SJ’s that I didn’t know about? Or maybe a new episode of The Bachelor had just aired? Personally, I’m just not sure what could have been so important that you had to miss out on one of the biggest up-and-comers in the Australian music scene. I don’t mean to be salty, but come on guys.

Armed with a cowbell and the energy of a five-year-old with a bag of redskins, Newy locals Stranger Than Friends kicked off their set at The Small Ballroom. With their infectious indie rock sound and punchy drum beats, the trio had the (ten person strong) crowd up and dancing around the room. While it would be pretty disheartening to play to a near empty room, it didn’t seem to bother Stranger Than Friends at all; the energy of the band refused to waver throughout their set. With a prominent stage presence and a hard-hitting base line, it was hard not to compare the trio to a younger Cage The Elephant or White Stripes. I’m not sure what Big Chief and the Bottle Openers live sound was like, but I, for one, am very excited to see where Stranger Than Friends goes from here.

Next on the bill was Central Coast based locals, IVY. Known for their scuzzy guitar riffs and howling vocals, the trio really brought the noise (and the punters). While their set was filled with some heavy instrumental breaks and slow burning songs, tracks such as Leave Your Man At Home and I Won’t Go were definite crowd pleasers. After Wednesday’s performance, it was easy to see why IVY have been announced as supports for some incredible bands like The Delta Riggs and The Snowdroppers in the near future. Personally, I thought that the trio were a little heavy for a Murlocs support; deviating slightly from the soulful, blues-rock vibe of the evening. But hey, that’s just me.

I first caught The Murlocs at The Dawn of Gizzfest in Brisbane, way back in 2015. It was a different time then; King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard played entire sets wearing reptile masks and everyone’s daggy uncle found solace in Drake’s video choreography. To be honest, not much has changed since then. King Gizz are still as captivating (and prolific) as ever and we’re all still posting Drake gifs across the world wide web. One thing we can be thankful for, is that Uncle Murl have continued to develop and shape their trademark sound to bring us their latest offering, Old Locomotive.

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The Murlocs kicked off their set with one of their latest singles, Oblivion. While I was expecting great things from the Geelong crew, what I got was something far better than I could have imagined. From the very beginning, lead singer Ambrose Kenny-Smith captured the attention of the crowd with his charismatic persona and unique vocals. If you’ve yet to give the band a spin, then prepare to immerse yourself into what I can only describe as the idyllic combination of psychedelic rock and old school blues.

With a full room and fresh tin of VB, Ambrose launches into a crowd favourite, Rolling On, which was shortly followed by their latest single, Snake In The Grass. For such a young band, it was almost hard to believe how polished their performance was; from the keys, right down to the harmonica, it would be very hard to fault such an incredible set. There was a moment however, where lead singer Ambrose burst into laughter, but to be fair, he was faced with number of topless crowd members. You go girls.

Rounding out their set with tracks like Space Cadet and Noble Soldier, The Murlocs treated their Newcastle crowd to one of the best performances that I’ve seen all year. The band truly could not have asked for a better audience (or venue for that matter) to debut their Old Locomotive album; I doubt very much that we’ll have the opportunity to catch them in such an intimate setting again. I really hope that The Murlocs felt the novo love and decide to come back to visit in the near future; matching Uncle Murl overalls are optional but would definitely be encouraged.

WORDS: Bree Smith

Bree is a Newcastle import who survives off British television and hummus. She spends the majority of her time chasing bands up and down the east coast. Never without a set of headphones, you’ll often find her lost in a wormhole of related artists on Spotify. One day she hopes to impress people by being able to play more than one song on guitar.

Written by Bree Smith

Bree is a Newcastle import who survives off British television and hummus. She spends the majority of her time chasing bands up and down the east coast and one day hopes to impress people by being able to play more than one song on guitar.