The Griswolds | Live at Corner Hotel

September 25th, 2014 | Corner Hotel

Kicking off a 12-date national tour to support their newly released debut album Be Impressive, Sydney pop rockers The Griswolds brought their fun brand of music to Melbourne’s Corner Hotel in a solid performance to a ravenous crowd. The band has just returned from three and a half months of intense touring in the United States and the guys were clearly excited to be back playing to Australian crowds. It was obvious that several members in the audience were equally as excited – a group of fan girls front and centre were screaming all the lyrics and shoving their phones in lead singer Chris Whitehall’s face the entire night. I’m not saying enthusiasm is a bad thing at all; they were in fact incredibly entertaining and just reminded me of my musical obsessions when I was younger (though from a time before smartphones were commonplace). They nearly wet their pants when Whitehall passed them the microphone during Beware The Dog, but unfortunately their vocal talents made the whole thing even more comical. It is a nice sign of things to come for this band if they play their cards right; the band’s fun and accessible style of music that make them likeable across genres, and hopefully they will develop even more of a solid following as their careers progress.

Looking like a colourful rock pirate, lead singer Whitehall had fantastic vocals, with excellent control and a gorgeous falsetto. His voice was strong throughout and is paired perfectly with the joyful chords used in The Griswolds’ music. Harmonies from keyboardist/guitarist Danny Duque-Perez and bassist Tim John were absolutely beautiful and well practised, whilst drummer Lachlan West kept the beats strong. I did find Whitehall’s interaction with the crowd between songs a little grating and his constant thanking of the crowd felt a little disingenuous – but it was probably just because he was so excited to be playing back on home soil again after spending “a very long time” overseas. Indeed, Duque-Perez couldn’t wipe the grin off his face so it was pretty obvious that this was a good experience for the whole band, and especially after having lived overseas for a few years myself, I can’t look at that in a negative way.

Opening with Right On Track, the band came out with guns blazing and whipped through album opener 16 Years followed by The Courtship of Summer Preasly - a single from their Heat Of A Lion EP. However, there wasn’t really a connection with the crowd until If You Wanna Stay, a synth-strong number with an easy-to-chant chorus that just encourages dancing. The title track from their album Be Impressive was just that, opening with a cheerleading chant recited by children that the crowd joined in on. Slower track Live This Nightmare was strong, while Mississippi showed Whitehall’s lovely falsetto at its peak. The band’s recent single Beware The Dog was easily the biggest song of the night, with the crowd thoroughly enjoying singing the lyrics of the chorus back at the band – I mean, who doesn’t love shouting that someone is “fucking crazy”? Unfortunately, straight after this was the low point of the night, Red Tuxedo, which Whitehall described as the band’s most romantic song “about losing your virginity in the backseat of a car”. During the performance he told the crowd to get their phones out and wave them, ballad style, and then burped into the microphone to mark the end of the song. The entire track was pretty uncomfortable, much like the subject matter at hand, and is definitely something that the band needs to improve on if they are going to keep the song in their set. However, this was followed immediately by set closer Heart Of A Lion, which woke the crowd up again and received one of the biggest reactions of the night. The band walked off stage but came back on for what they claimed was their first ever encore – whether this is true or not remains to be seen, given their growing popularity both in Australia and internationally – and ended on a high with the paradoxical track Down and Out, which has incredibly positive vibes despite the depressing lyrics.

The band does use what feels like a pattern in their songs – they know what works and they stick to it. However the fact that it does work is a great sign that they have found their niche, their fan base, and with some hard work and some good luck it can be expected that this is only the beginning for The Griswolds.

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