From the moment the doors opened the crowd steadily built. It’s rare to see a venue so full for the first opening act, but on this night the crowd was packed and full of anticipation. It turns out that pop punk rock has a big following in Melbourne and Iron Chic had brought them all out to play on this night. Despite the heat, people milled around, waiting for the first band Foxtrot. Foxtrot are a four-piece band punk rock from Melbourne who first came to public attention through Triple J’s Unearthed. The band immediately launched into a punk rock set that had the crowd rocking. Each song was standard pop punk but played with skill. The vocals were shared by guitarists Josh Newman and Tyler Worth,  producing a sound that really, really worked. Each song was up beat and the crowd rocked along.The set was quite fun and high energy, and by the end they had the crowd in the palm of their hands. They were meant to be the warm-up, but the set they played outdid this expectation. They also set a really high tone for the evening. The next act took this enthusiasm and ran with it.

Press Club is a female fronted four piece from Brunswick that has already garnered some positive buzz in the local scene. Lead singer Natalie Foster’s vocals are the first thing that grab you, in the best way possible. Her style is unique, both deep and light, growly yet clear, delivered with attitude and very listenable. This approach is taken up by the rest of the band, playing pop punk riffs with a gritty sensibility. Each tune was upbeat yet raw, and the vocals grabbed you each time. Even a casual listener would have been paying full attention after the first couple of songs. It was clear they had a few fans in the crowd, and the rest of the crowd was soon on side. The band’s energy was infectious and they held their own. Press Club definitely have headliner potential.  With two such talented local bands as the openers, the crowd were more than ready for the headliner.

Iron Chic took this enthusiasm and ran with it in the way an experienced and popular headline act can. A five-piece punk rock band from Long Island, New York, they had the power to pack out The Bendigo Hotel full of excited fans. From the first to the last each song was hook filled and got the crowd singing along. Sugary riffs overlaid with gruff vocals and a thumping beat framed intricate lyrics that showcased struggle and darker times. Most of the setlist came from their recent album, ‘You Can’t Stay Here.’ The fans sung along with gusto to songs such as Thunderbolts, Profane Geometry and Invisible Ink. Each song stood out from the last, showcasing something a little different from the one before it yet each song flowed into the next. The set was polished and professional, but the DIY roots of the band were never far away. There was a genuine raw feeling underwriting the band’s performance, an emotional thread that the audience really connected with. Singer Jason Lubrano had each performance down to a tee but still clearly put a bit of himself into each note. He made a point of interacting with the audience and bringing them in to each song with the expertise of a veteran who as never forgotten his roots.

At times the sound mix was a little fuzzy, with the vocals a little low, but it was hard to tell if this was a deliberately sought after effect or not. Any loss in vocals was made up for by the crowd who sang along to each song enthusiastically. The banter between sets was engaging but kept light and short. The pace of Iron Chic’s set was fast yet enjoyable, high energy and upbeat, the crowd dancing throughout. The setlist was picked carefully and ensured the band never lost the audience. Pop punk sets have been known to get a bit monotonous, but with each song something new was presented, keeping it fresh and interesting. The set went off without incident or mistake and finished to loud cheers and clapping from a satisfied audience that had been worked into a frenzy. After watching this performance it is easy to see why Iron Chic are a crowd favourite.

The whole night was a success, the venue packed to the rafters with happy concert goers, a great line up of skilled bands, all expertly run on time and without anything going wrong (a mean feat in the world of event promotion!). Overall a great night that this reviewer was glad to be witness to. There was clearly a market in Melbourne for this line-up of talented musicians, and the promoter gave the crowd exactly what it wanted. Iron Chic alone was worth it with their aggressive yet pleasant style of punk rock. But the two openers were a delightful surprise of a far higher calibre than expected. This was an international headline concert with the feel of a local gig and this really worked well. High quality performances with an intimate feel that drew the crowd in. If you have then opportunity to catch Iron Chic on one of their remaining Australian dates, this reviewer highly recommends you do so. If you love upbeat punk rock with a hidden edge you will not be disappointed.

PHOTOS BY DYLAN MARTIN

GET TICKETS FOR THE REMAINING SHOW AT THE REVERENCE HOTEL (SUNDAY 11 FEBRUARY) HERE!

Iron Chic tour