Excuse the starry eyes. I’ve spent a week drowning in excellent music, the majority of is Australian, so it’s hard not to be overflowing with love when there’s so much killer stuff right under your nose. A dramatic case in point is Melbourne’s Dorsal Fins, a band that has been sold to me by various parties for well over 12 months but I needed to see in the flesh to truly appreciate. I should point out that this was purely by accident; at BIGSOUND, the music conference up in Brisbane that I had the pleasure of taking part in, you could walk between venues at night and stumble upon something different than either of the bands you had intended to see. I actually heard Dorsal Fins before I saw them, their penchant for percussion piquing my interest as I loped past the wonderfully named Ric’s Backyard. Inside, it was packed to the gills, and I felt like something amazing was about to happen. It turns out I was right. For once.
Dorsal Fins is an eight piece band, which from a pure economic standpoint is a horribly impractical enterprise. It’s also part of the reason that people from Melbourne know about them a lot more than the rest of us, they gig in their own city all the time and have built up a cult following alongside other party starters without pretence like Total Giovanni and Client Liason. They’ve got two vocalists, both of whom prefer the disco range and more groove than they know what to do with. Mixing classic house piano lines, funk horns, tight ’70s rhythm sections and Motown melodies, they’re a hybrid act that should be a total mess – and probably were back in the day – but are now simply an absolute powerhouse. More importantly, they’re lashings of fun.
Many of the groups I’ve seen with this many members are usually the type to be super technical, focusing more on what’s coming out of their amps than the audience in front of them. Doral Fins, who share members with both Saskwatch and GL, are the opposite. They take every possible opportunity to jump around elevate the mood and none of that comes at the expense of the musicality. Note perfect harmonies, brilliant interplay between a very large number of instruments and you have an outfit that feels more like a white Earth, Wind and Fire than anything else.
There is something carefree about Melbourne that really allows acts like this to nurture their sound and grow into the fabulous beasts they end up becoming. Whatever it is, I’m glad I keep running into it by accident, because songs this rump-shaking are always a welcome change from the ordinary.