Who: Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever / Moaning Lisa / Bland
Where: Manning Bar, Sydney
When: Friday May 10th, 2019
Review: Chris Neill (Twitter / Website)

Every now and then you hear someone spout the tired sentiment that “rock ‘n' roll is dead!” The person sharing this hot take is usually a crusty, old dinosaur whose finger could not be further from the pulse of modern music, whose cloying nostalgia has overwritten any sense of adventure when it comes to seeking out new bands. 

Their favourite album of 2018 was most likely the Bohemian Rhapsody soundtrack.

That’s not to imply you’re one of these boring old farts, dear Australian Guitar reader, because we know that you know that Australia is currently spoilt with amazing rock acts. Throw a stone in any direction and you’re bound to hit one. Case in point: the recent sold out Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever gig at the Manning Bar, with Bland and Moaning Lisa supporting.

With a name like Bland, you may feel like they’re one misstep away from copping a snide remark. But one song into their set, and it’s obvious why they’re opening for Rolling Blackouts: they’re real good at what they do. This Sydney-based quartet know their way around lo-fi indie rock, laying down some catchy riffs and fuzzy guitar sounds. 

Near the end of their set, Bland’s singer reminisced about playing alongside Rolling Blackouts over two-years ago, and how different it was compared to how now that the Coastal Fever has really caught on. We reckon you can give it a couple of years and some opener will be saying this about Bland.

Moaning Lisa sound like all of your favourite ‘90s alternative acts rolled into one: they’re a little bit grunge, a little bit riot grrrl and a little bit shoegaze. They’re also one of the best things happening in Australian music at the moment, and getting to see them kick out the jams live is something to behold. Had you not known they were the support band tonight, you would’ve sworn they’re the headliner.

Highlights include the dreamy noise pop of “Sun”; “Comfortable”, which was dedicated to everyone who came to the gig by themselves; and “Carrie (I Want a Girl)”, a queer anthem whose huge guitar sound could topple buildings (“I want a girl who plays the tambourine / A girl who knows her sexuality”).

The stage’s curtains were drawn, for dramatic effect, while punters packed out Manning. Kicking off with the upbeat “Julie’s Place” and a short introduction, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever powered through a set built around most of their 2017 EP, The French Press, and their debut full-length Hope Downs (which, let's be real, was one of the best albums of 2018).

The Melbourne five-piece are a tight unit, regularly tagging one-another in for singing duties without missing a beat. Clean-cut, no nonsense guitar rock. The kind you can’t help but bop your entire body to – especially during the jangly “Talking Straight” and the guitar solo of “Exclusive Grave”. Just because it’s May, doesn’t mean you can’t feel those warm summer vibes.

That’s the thing about Rolling Blackouts – they are just so much fun to listen to. Even with a sold out crowd, there’s no way you weren’t going to dance along to “The Hammer” or “Time in Common”. “Bellarine”, with its groovy bass and shout-along chorus that almost saw the crowd successfully drown out the band. The mosh kicked up when during the chorus of  “Sick Bug”, which saw Rolling Blackouts at their most punk, and “French Press” with it’s extended instrumental jam outro. 

Rolling Coastal closed out the show with their cover of Enya’s “Orinoco Flow” (which was a just a bit too cute in its irony) before kicking into “Mainland”, which saw the crowd erupt into a frenzy of dancing and singing. If the few new songs played are anything to go by (“In the Capital”, “Read My Mind”), Rolling Blackouts are only getting better and we can’t wait to see them again.

It was freezing outside Manning, but the upbeat energy of the evening helped keep you warm for a little bit longer – while a surprising amount of punters disappeared into the night chanting, “Sail away, sail away, sail away!”