Spirit Faces, also known as Pete Covington, is here to warm up the Northcote Social Club stage. Covington’s is a soft folky sound and this chilled out acoustic performance has a slow swaying tempo, that is fitting for an audience who is lounging comfortably around the band-room floor. It’s the kind of performance where isn’t out of place for Covington to be drinking what looks like a cup of tea. It’s a very leisurely set, offering up more of a Sunday afternoon vibe, than a late night Friday one.
Later on, Fountaineer (Anthony and Francis White, and Kieran Daly) take the stage with a slow building, smooth and steady drum beat, at the hands of Francis, and the deep and raspy vocals of Anthony, calling punters to shuffle their way to the front of the floor. It’s got an emotional head-banger quality to the sound, and the guys’ passionate dancing and jumping is hard to resist joining. A hitch gets thrown into the performance, when a drumstick goes flying or gets broken — we don’t think anyone is quite sure. “Does anyone have a spare drum stick?” frontman Anthony asks the crowd. The awkwardness doesn’t last long though, Anthony covers the dead silence with some crowd-to-band chit-chat and then they are back to close their set with one last taste of their sweet, but hard, indie-rock.
Middle Kids (Hannah Joy, Tim Fitz and Harry Day) jog eagerly onto the stage, and they joined by Spirit Faces’ Pete Covington to fill out their sound on guitar. They showcase their signature indie-rock with Your Love, it’s an explosive start that fades into a quieter bridge, (“sometimes I wanna give up on this love/ but then I hear you call”), vocalist Joy closes the tune with her soulful and uncontrollable voice and some impressively uninhibited dancing. Then, fittingly so, the crowd erupts in applause. Something special about the trio is the ease at which they interact with the crowd. Between each track the three, namely Fitz and Joy, banter with front row members.
“All the magic is happening here,” – Hannah Joy
The band launch into a raw version of Old River. It’s a night for the three to be showcasing their newest releases, and they don’t disappoint. Fire In Your Eyes sees Joy set down her guitar for a fierce and unstable performance; she is perched on the edge of the stage leaning as far into the crowd as she can without losing her balance and this she does effortlessly. Her voice falters slightly toward the end of the track, but it’s real and it’s raw and it reminds us of the power and exciting risk in live performance.
Never Start is the final song of the night. It’s the namesake of this tour, which Hannah admits she “only found out today”. But it’s a farewell song for both sides of the stage: the crowd eagerly echoes the lyrics in a messy but loud and enthusiastic harmony. The track ends with a wave and thank you and the four jog back off the stage. But a string of hungry “one more song” chants and a roar applause make it hard for them to stay away.
“We were gonna wait but we thought nah!” They leave us with one final song, Put It Out On the Line — for Joy it’s a “special little song” and for the crowd it’s a hauntingly beautiful end to a special night.
The only question left is have you bought their latest EP, Never Start, yet?
Well go on, do it.