Having not played in a few months, and with their last tour consisting of Australia’s finer venues, it had been a while between spilled drinks on sticky floors for Augie March. The far subtler of the pair of headliners, Augie led with a mixture of their last three albums, as always the musicality the strength rather than any physical energy. ‘Brundisium’, ‘Song in the Key of Chance’ and ‘The Night is a Blackbird’ – all from Strange Bird – were twists in Augie’s ever changing setlist, while newie ‘Definitive History’ was a fantastically wordy conclusion.
The Drones were less still, less reserved and less sober than Augie. Off the back of their Wait Long by the River album shows, they were well and truly ready to christen the Croxton with their poetic, guttural, heavy supremacy. A double of ‘Shark Fin Blues’ and ‘Baby’ straight out of the gate set the tone for the next hour – a rampage of rock and eerie harmonies, big guitar and thunderous drums. The creep of ‘Locust’ and momentum of ‘Minotaur’ were additional highlights, but the closing cover and Drones staple ‘River of Tears’ was the most poignant moment of all.
And how did the venue fair? The Croxton’s new bandroom is an interesting addition to the Melbourne scene. Without knowing any numbers I can only make assumptions, but it looks to hold a fair lot more than its similar peers (vibe-wise), such as the Corner Hotel bandroom. And there’s no pole in the centre. The capacity bodes well for future lineups, although while standing up front is fine, a lack of any changes to levelling means the further back you are the less you’ll witness visually. It plays the pub well though, so that is hardly going to concern many.
In any case, the fact that Melbourne is opening a venue like this instead of closing one is the biggest winner of all.