Words by Hamza Siddiqi
Photos by Karoline Schaefer, of Cat Eye Photography.
Even if it is an international band, it’s always impressive when a band has clearly garnered a passionate enough fanbase to sell out a Melbourne venue – even a comparatively intimate one like the Northcote Social Club – on a Tuesday night. La Dispute, putting on a sideshow from their sets at the first Good Things Festival – managed to do just that, and have put on one of the most intense shows I’ve seen all year.
The night started off with local 5-piece Self Talk. Having not listened to the band prior to seeing them, I was surprised to see that they were an indie rock/pop rock band of a very Melbourne-y variety, not too different from acts like Ceres or Camp Cope. They themselves seemed to understand the bizarreness of a band like them opening for such a notably post-hardcore act, but they took it in their stride and did a good job of warming up the crowd with their brand of vaguely emo indie rock. They did a decent job of making the crowd move and overall seemed really happy to be there – and it was infectious. They may not have been what I (or probably most of the crowd) was there to see, but,nonetheless, I had a blast watching them.
Perhaps owing to the amazing efficiency of their crew, La Dispute came on a lot more promptly than I would have expected(especially as Self Talk started about 15 minutes late) in the first of a few welcome surprises that night. Historically being somewhat on the fence about La Dispute’s music (a far cry from the super-fans that made up a large chunk ofthe crowd up front), I wasn’t expecting to recognise many of the songs and figured I was probably going to take in a lot of them for the first time. I was therefore surprised and immediately hyped when the band opened with familiar (to me) crowd-pleaser ‘New Storms for Older Lovers.’ I had almost as much fun watching the crowd as I did the band; maybe it’s because I’ve been going for mostly local gigs over the past year, but it seemed to me that this was one of the most intense crowds I’d seen in a while. I was nestled pretty comfortably on the left side of the stage, with a pretty good view of both the band –although clearly my wish for overall comfort and a decent view wasn’t shared by the passionate fans energetically pushing up against the centre of the stage, pushing,jumping, crowd-surfing. Many of them knew every word and were shouting them up at vocalist Jordan Dreyer, who occasionally took the opportunity to point the mic at them and let them take on some of the work. It was really something to behold, and it was a good illustration of a short speech Dreyer gave in between tracks, in which he noted that no matter how aggressive rock and roll was, there was no reason that that should stop it from bringing people joy. It definitely made me smile.
The rest of the band was a lot of fun to watch as well, although they were comparatively reserved compared to Dreyer wh owas delivering his impassioned spoken word and screams with so much energy that it was honestly pretty amazing that he was able to keep it up for the whole 80-minute (or so) set. The dude was constantly moving; jumping, spinning around,riling up the crowd. The setlist was clearly made up of fan-favourites (personal highlights were Woman (In Mirror), First Reactions After Falling Through the Ice and Said the Kind to the River) and the shared passion fo rLa Dispute’s music fostered an overall sense of community and love in that medium-sized band room. The band forwent a conventional encore due to the lack of stage space, but played through and ended the set with fan favourites Said the King to the River and Such Small Hands to the crowd’s delight before promising to come back after the release of their upcoming album next year,asking the crowd to come talk and subsequently ducking out.
The night was energetic and surprising, and the bands impassioned performance definitely made more of a fan out of me. When they come back next year, I’m gonna be ready.