Wednesday night in Whelan’s main room and there’s an indie pop triple header to really whet the appetite on display. Frankie Cosmos arrive into town with Trust Fund and local favourites Squarehead in tow.
An excellent opening solo set from Ellis Jones of the aforementioned Trust Fund sets the bar high. Whelan’s is close to full from unusually early in the evening, and his performance is one that wins over most of those in attendance rapidly. His is a wry, narrative driven style of song-writing, often calling to mind that of Stuart Murdoch at his best, a similarity that grows in this presentation, without full band embellishment. Evidently somewhat discomfited by the lack of backing band in tow, this is nevertheless a tremendous opener.
Next, there’s Squarehead. In recent years, they have been an unfortunately sporadic presence in the live arena, but recent indications are that there’s more activity to come over the next while. Recent single ‘Waves’ gets an airing tonight, along with an array of other new tunes, while there’s time for what is now probably their best-known offering in ‘2025’ from 2013’s Respect. Though it’s best known in a wider sense due to a video starring the brothers Gleeson incorporating home video footage from their childhood, the reality is that this song is truly exceptional, irrespective. Indications from tonight’s new tracks are that their long awaited next record will also deliver in spades.
Frankie Cosmos are clearly what the majority of the crowd are here to see. There’s a buzz of anticipation in the brief changeover time prior to their set proper kicking off, and all seems justified with a cracking start to the set. ‘On The Lips’ and ‘Floated In’ are deeply enjoyable and rapturously received. However, while there’s a value to being economical in presentation, as the evening progresses, this trips along a line to a point where brevity leads to a challenge in building momentum. Songs stand out (If I Had A Dog) but by and large, tracks tend to meld into one. This is compounded by front loading the set with more up-tempo numbers. This is also a factor with regard to Greta Kline’s vocal delivery. On record, the fragility of her voice and the topics she writes about flow well together and make for an insular, immersive listening experience. Live, there’s a risk of tripping from documenting the banality of everyday life into simply being dull.
Nonetheless, all told this is a solid performance and without question well received. Lauren Martin’s backing vocals add a welcome layer to Kline’s lead whenever introduced, neither used too sparingly or too much, but in the right measure. They are a hugely endearing group, understated, likeable and rich in potential. They’re not the finished article yet, but their progression is a journey to be watched closely.