Francolin @ Phoenix Public House
I’m almost certain the Phoenix Public House was the most fun place to be in Brunswick last Saturday night, if not in the whole of Melbourne. Jumping onto the Phoenix band room stage just after 11pm, the five band members of Francolin celebrated the launch of their new single, Suddenly Painlessly in conjunction with the Brunswick Music Festival.
Maybe I’ve just been going to the wrong gigs lately, but Francolin’s hour-long set was one of the most joyous and enjoyable performances I’ve seen in a long time. The band’s refreshingly un-self conscious pop songs created an infectiously relaxed vibe that had almost the entire audience smiling and swilling around the dance floor. By the third song, and title track of the band’s debut album, Won’t Let You Down, I noticed that even the security guard was having a bop to the side of the stage.
Francolin are not brand-spanking new to the indie-pop music scene in Melbourne; they have been steadily building a loyal fan-base and reputation for smart and upbeat tracks since mid-2009. After a brief summer hiatus in 2011, the band returned to the stage for the St Kilda Festival in January with a full back catalogue of songs from the new record.
On this Saturday evening, many of the tracks already seemed familiar with the eclectic Brunswick crowd, who sung along enthusiastically pretty much from the get-go. That was what differentiated Francolin from the two support bands, Yeo and Skotdracula, whose more sleepy tracks only modestly warmed up the crowd. In comparison, Francolin’s opening track, Hospital Song had the audience clapping and grinning along from the moment they took to the stage.
The five members of the band themselves have a charming '90s kids-from-the-block, garage-band ease about them that only made them appear more endearing, but there were really two things that distinguished Francolin’s performance. The first was the seamless talent that this group possesses. The quietly confident guitar and trumpet solos were stand-out, creating a Vampire Weekend meets jazz session lift to every song. However, the band as a whole were so charismatic and well put together that it is difficult to single out any one member. The second aspect of Saturday night’s gig was that as smart as Francolin’s music is, the fact that it was accompanied by genuine smiles on every band member’s face for the entire set showed that they were there to enjoy themselves and welcomed their audience to do the same.
It’s difficult not to be drawn to Francolin’s blend of disarming harmonies and dreamy pop tunes, and easy to see why they’re quickly becoming a Melbourne favourite.
BY LIV WEBB
LOVED: The pure joy present in the room.
HATED: Nothing, happily.