It’s 8pm on a chilly Friday night. I’ve just got off the bus and find myself falling a step behind two guys, both of whom are wearing oversized graphic tees fit for a beach day. I envy their indifference to the icy wind and wish I had the luxury of dressing too-cool-for-a-jacket without regret. The line outside has snaked around Manning Road with students huddled together tightly, their breaths just visible in the evening light. Once the doors open, we all pack in quickly, hungry for warmth. The crowd spreads out. Some mingle on the balcony while others make a beeline for the bar. Drinks in hand, the rest of us await the first set.
Molly Millington walks onto the stage donning a black blazer with her surname emblazoned down her right sleeve. She talks over the rowdy crowd and gestures towards her outfit, stating that she’s recently moved out of home and doesn’t have many clothes at the moment so this will have to do. They chuckle. Her set is filled with punchy lyrics and occasional vocal runs that fill the venue with an ethereal pulse. True to its name, Millington’s ‘Self Aware’ sings about her fears of being vulnerable: “I wish that I was her while she wishes that she was me… I want everyone to love me / But I claim that I don’t care.” Her freshly shaved blonde hair and fishnet stockings embody a fresh punk-rock zest suited for the teenage dirtbags and hapless outsiders.
For listeners of: Holly Humberstone and Grace Vanderwaal.
Act 2 Fletcher Pilon
Fletcher’s boyish charm and wavy blonde locks typify the classic ‘laid-back surfer’ look, coming from his Central Coast roots. He wears his heart on his sleeve as he sings lyrics like, “Tell me why the best things break,” with most of his set nestled within the folk ballad indie-rock genre. He ends with a bang however, with an electric guitar extended riff transitioning into a punk-rock soundscape which elicits wolf whistles and long howls from the crowd.
For listeners of: Blake Rose, Jack Gray, Gavin James.
A feel-good indie-folk duo from the Sunshine Coast, The Dreggs take on Manning on a bustling Friday night, singing about lost loves and the burning desire to leave home. Both members Paddy and Zane are seen wearing classical Greek fisherman’s caps as they enter the stage, guitars slung over their shoulders.
Baring their souls in a country-folk lament, they open with their latest single ‘The Forest Song’, accompanied by the gentle finger picking of an acoustic guitar. Their soft vocals are hued with images of lush greenery and remind me of maple leaves and the honey-suckled peach glimmer that follows autumn. Their sound lingers in our presence for the first forty seconds before quickening in pace and transitioning into an uptempo beat, with a large nod to their folk-roots.
The front-porch country buzz follows their harmonies and the rest of the song is welled in idyllic romance, à la The Lumineers’ ‘Cleopatra’. Paddy makes eye contact with a woman to my right and smiles as he watches her mouth the lyrics back to him, “Pack your things and I’ll meet you there / Forget your shoes and I’ll bring some to spare.”
The Dreggs’ set is reminiscent of a cosy dive bar in the country. I imagine people sitting at a two-seater table eagerly getting up to line-dance and drinking each other under the table long into the night. ‘Call Me Home’ features a wispy harmonia and a quick banjo strumming pattern that is so effervescently bluegrass, and God do I love it.
Even the barest moments, in the occasional hitched breath and lonely harmonica stretching past the acoustic guitar strums, their sound remains compelling. Firmly standing in a language of their making, The Dreggs’ lyricism is simple but honest; not overselling themselves to the listener and instead offering soft ruminations about the seasons of change.
For listeners of Jordy Searcy, Philip Philips and Vance Joy, the Dreggs will slot comfortably beside their tunes.
Seeing The Dreggs live has gifted me with a little keepsake – a prime ‘coasting on summer’ playlist, best listened to with the windows rolled down and volume on full blast.