Skipping Girl Vinegar
It's indeed rare to witness a band launching their sophomore album within the majestic ambience of The Arts Centre, but Skipping Girl Vinegar treated their loyal fans to such an experience for the launch of Keep Calm, Carry The Monkey - the sublime follow-up to their acclaimed debut album Sift The Noise.
Emphasising SGV's love of the mystical, charming and retro, the Melbourne quintet's gorgeous stage setup was decorated with luminous stars, animal ornaments and wooden signs. Opening was the brilliant Kieran Ryan of Kid Sam, who instilled the atmosphere with an air of elegance and enchantment. Anticipation for the follow-up to Kid Sam's outstanding debut album is becoming intense and fans were fortunate enough to hear new material tonight. The richness and evocative beauty of Ryan's storytelling belie his years; the graceful fluidity of his clever prose and meticulous guitar picking enraptured the attentive audience.
While Kieran Ryan and Skipping Girl Vinegar aren't exactly on opposite sides of the spectrum, it's fair to say that Ryan delves into more melancholy and inward examination than SGV - on an exceptionally cold evening, a taste of both was particularly rewarding. Evidently enthused to be performing at the Arts Centre, Skipping Girl Vinegar opened with rowdy, alt-country rocker Hand To Hold. It was a spirited start to a set resplendent in warmth, intimacy and interaction. (Even drummer Chris Helm was situated at front of stage aligned with each of his band mates - only Kelly Lane swayed from the front at times when immersed in her violin playing.) In highlighting the stylistic diversity of Skipping Girl Vinegar's music, the band's performance was rich in glorious harmonies, melodic grooves, shimmering guitar-pop and anthemic folk-rock. You Can was a highlight; Chase The Sun obliterated any traces of wintery pensiveness; One Long Week gleamed and pulsated with an infectious vigour, while fuzz-rocker Wasted - driven by Sare Lang's hypnotic bass line - had many twisting in our remarkably comfortable seats.
The between-song banter was just as endearing. Dedicated to strengthening the bonds between themselves and their loyal fans, Skipping Girl Vinegar had posted a vintage gift to the first 50 fans who ordered Keep Calm, Carry The Monkey. It was a particularly hilarious moment when frontman Mark Lang asked the audience whether anyone had already received their mailed gift and received the response of "a crappy tape". Also known for offering home-baked goods to audience members, keyboardist Amanthi Lynch treated four lucky fans to her collection of slices, one of which was given a confident proclamation of "11" out of 10.
When the quintet returned for an encore to perform their second album's closing song, Heart Does Ache, the entire room was moved to a stirred silence. In a performance that comprised as many reflective moments as entertaining ones, campfire-style sing-a-longs and impassioned musicality, Skipping Girl Vinegar's launch of Keep Calm, Carry The Monkey at the Arts Centre was a special and memorable night.
Loved: The warmth and intimacy of the performance
Hated: ...I wanted a slice!
Drank: Stella Artois