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Live Review: City Calm Down @ Max Watt’s, Brisbane


Packing out Brisbane’s Max Watt’s, Melbourne new-wave heroes City Calm Down delivered their signature moody synth-driven tunes to a sold-out venue. The noise of a chattering crowd overruled the venue with loud bursts of banter and clinking drinks, waiting for the 4-piece (or 6 if you include their brass ensemble) to hit the stage.

City Calm Down’s signature LED triangles illuminated the intro of Border On Control, a song to get the crowd moving for the rest of the show. Hands wailing and the crowd swaying, they sang every word, almost drowning out the band in the process. It was as if all of City Calm Down’s most loyal fans were all in one place! Cheers, claps and whistles indicated the acclamation for the song as it ended, until frontman Jack Bourke’s voice welcomed us.

Forgetting City Calm Down are from Melbourne, you almost feel immersed in what might feel like a British pub. It’s only when Bourke stops singing and starts speaking you realise this eccentric band are Aussie home and grown. The uniqueness of Bourke’s voice really adds another element to the bands sound, one that might be distinctive to a movie soundtrack – think ‘Perks of Being Wallflower’.


Son then showcased the band’s more electric and indie-rock sounds, and seems to be one of the many fan favourites from their breakout album ‘In A Restless House’. I was quite impressed with onstage instrumentation of City Calm Down. Not only do they tour with both a saxophone and trumpet player, but their extensive synth and guitar rigs show their dedication to sound and performance. Each member knew their instrument from back front, which showcased their ‘cool’ and ‘slick’ style brought from studio to stage.

Rabbit Run showed very popular as an outburst of a response came from the audience within the first few guitar notes. Compared to the rest of the set, I found Bourke’s already smooth voice quite very clear and effortless during this song. Although, he hovered over the low set microphone and it would have been more appealing if we saw his face while he sang. While the members banter and hold charisma during their set, a smile was rarely seen, giving a slight mystery hidden in the shadows of the stage. But this was of course broken when the crowd showed their love for the band, loud and almost obnoxiously – they were chuffed.


With the set slowing with Wandering, the still band know how to keep movement and flow within their set, as their dancey sound still lies underneath the track. Playing music comes completely natural to each and every member, heck the drummer didn’t even break a sweat or needed to look at which drum he was hitting. Although the band is well known for their professionalism, it was was hard to look past, as it seemed too effortless for them to play a show.

With audience hands high in the air, the band left the stage under those glowing orange triangles, waving a thank you to the crowd, who continue their applause for a good few minutes. City Calm Down may only be a band of four, but their live show portrays a band of much greater immensity.

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