Live Review: The Grates @ Amplifier

THE GRATES, EXPATRIATE, NEW RULES FOR BOATS
Amlifier Bar
Friday 16th December 2005

Review By Rohan Hewson

New Rules For Boats play a kind of music that’s like country, but without being annoying and twangy; just good fun pop music with a fair bit of rock. Tonight was a fairly normal performance from them, getting a nice party mood going in the Amplifier, which was filling up quite early because of there being two interstate acts playing.

Expatriate had a much larger audience than they did a few months ago supporting Decoder Ring, as their EP ‘Lovers Le Strange’ has had quite a bit of airplay on JJJ. There were probably as many people watching them, the second support band, as there usually are watching a headliner at the Amps. It was fairly easy to work out ‘The Spaces Between’ was the song being flogged most on air; it got far and away the biggest cheer of their set, both at the start and the end of the song. They sounded a lot like the Cure or Joy Division, with that particular style of guitar, vintage keyboard, and especially the singer, who had a voice quite similar to Robert Smith. They possibly wore their influences on their sleeve a bit much, but their influences are great bands, and sounding like great bands from the past is hardly a bad thing. Most of their songs sounded quite similar to each other, although ‘Sleazy’ broke the mould in a big way, living up to its name and being great fun to boot. They put on just as good a show as they did last time they were over here, but this time with more people to appreciate it.

As soon as The Grates came on stage, just about every person in the place flocked to the inside area, leaving only a few people out in the warehouse part playing pool, and a somewhat uncomfortable crush anywhere near the stage. They had a much more basic setup than Expatriate, with only a guitarist, a drummer, and the colourfully-dressed main singer, Patience, who jumped up and down like a ten year old girl on red cordial for the entire set.

After just about every song, she excitedly told the crowd how much she loved Perth, Perth people rock, how excited they are to be playing the last show of their tour, and so on. It was a bit over the top at times, but never insincere; her energy couldn’t possibly have been faked. This was translated into the music too, with her dancing even more than the crowd. There were apparently people dancing up the front, but I couldn’t even get close enough to see. I suppose that’s a good thing.

When they finished, the enormous crowd yelled out for an encore, and the band came back on, dragging most of Expatriate, some of New Rules For Boats (including the incomparable Ben Golby) and some other random people on stage with them. There must have been fifteen people up on stage. This is what encores are meant to be, not just another couple of songs on the set list but something that happened because the crowd genuinely loved them. I hate to use such a bad pun, but this show was… grate!

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