City Calm Down play under the stars for a hometown show at The Forum

Inadvertently, City Calm Down had set the scene of a dramatic church congregation with the organs, the compelling vocals and the backing choir. And by backing choir I mean the crowd singalong.

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Image source: 
Ian Laidlaw

City Calm Down is currently on tour for their most recent album, Echoes in Blue. The Melbourne four-piece (evolved into a significantly larger live band) played their hometown show at The Forum, filling it out from wall to wall. Fellow Melburnians Woods and IV League joined the group, warming up the crowd before the main attraction.

City Calm Down took to the stage first with ‘Distraction/Losing Sleep’. The crowd roared as the band emerged. It was hard to say whether there were audio issues, or an intentional move, however, singer Jack Bourke’s vocals were borderline impossible to hear over the thunderous sound of the multiplied band. Regardless, the show’s theatrics made the (potential) audio mishap barely noticeable. It’s rare that band’s use the grandeur of the Forum’s stage to their advantage. This was a detail City Calm Down did not overlook. A giant, dark backdrop hung behind the band that had a scrunched paper look, which brought your eye right up to the faux starry night ceiling of the theatre. Adding to the drama, all the band members were dressed head to toe in black. A sleek and bold choice.

Bourke added to the very sombre aesthetic as he launched into ‘Blood’. As his long, dark hair hung around his face, his strong and powerful vocals filled the room. The crowd joined in at the chorus, singing, “I’m the one who wants your blood.” The floor was vibrating with the jumping of bodies to the fast-paced drum beats. Unfortunately, standing on the Forum floor and seeing the band on stage is almost impossible as you’re surrounded by giants, the lively crowd did not help, although it did lift the otherwise melancholic vibe. During, ‘Pleasure & Consequence’, Bourke got up on the front speakers to get closer to the roaring crowd. This was a very considerate and appreciated gesture for all the shorties in the room.

City Calm Down attracted a large and enthusiastic crowd on a busy Friday night, however in some aspects it didn’t work in their favour. Due to slow and dramatic intros to a lot of their songs, audience members took this opportunity to talk to each other. Maybe they were just so excited to see their favourite band? Or perhaps they had too many bevs at pres? Either way, it made hearing the intro lines to the next song almost impossible. And hearing Bourke’s chats to the crowd in between songs? Forget about it.

Although early in the set, one of the biggest crowd singalongs was no doubt ‘Son’. The opening organ-like notes alerted all the die-hard fans that their favourite song was starting. Inadvertently, City Calm Down had set the scene of a dramatic church congregation with the organs, the compelling vocals and the backing choir. And by backing choir I mean the crowd singalong. Credit must be paid to the Melbourne crowd, they sang the changing notes of ‘Son’ with perfection – a song that was made to be played live. Also, ‘Rabbit Run’, needs to be heard live to experience the full strength of it.

Suddenly before too long, the set was over, and the band was leaving the stage, although, the crowd knew better than this. As expected, the group returned for an encore of ‘Echoes in Blue’ and ‘In This Modern Land’. Despite encores being an outdated tradition, it managed to raise the energy in the crowd even further. Even to the point that saw Bourke jumping into the crowd for a crowd surf – dream for a die-hard fan and their Instagram feed I’m sure. It’ll be interesting to see how the Melbourne band will top this performance in the future, but we are all eagerly waiting for the chance to see them try.

Highlight: The overall drama of the show. Love a bit of drama in my life.

Lowlight: The conversation murmur in the crowd. Tsk Tsk.

Crowd Favourite: ‘Son’ or ‘Rabbit Run’, a very close competition.