Risking unpleasant encounters with inebriated revellers on his journey, DERMOT CLARKE ventures to see Dave Graney & The MistLY on a Saturday night in Brisbane city.
Beetle Bar, Saturday August 25
The walk from Spring Hill to the Beetle Bar requires a detour through the CBD and copping abuse from Cro-Magnon stags and drunken hens along the way while Edith Piaf and crap Westerns loop through the mind’s eye. A bad start and a long march to catch a set from someone known at one time as The Brother Who Lived (or “the brother from another scene”). He can be confusing like that: it’s easier to view Dave Graney as a non-person with a made-up history.
The venue’s not packed, but a decent crowd still assemble to catch Dave Graney & The MistLY on the heels of their new record You’ve Been In My Mind — Graney & co’s take on West Coast Byrds-lite. After an allegedly horrific night on the Gold Coast, the band really seem to appreciate the warmth of the Brisbane crowd. Graney is, of course, wearing a hat; drummer Clare Moore is, of course, wearing a stony-faced glare.
The set consists of equal pepperings of current material and reworked Coral Snakes tunes – delivered in the solid four-piece format that The MistLY have honed themselves into. Graney plays one of his unbranded, cheap Chinese guitars and interacts with Stu Perera and Stu Thomas quite flawlessly. While it’s nice to hear the likes of I’m Gonna Release Your Soul, it’s not as exciting as hearing material from You’ve Been in My Mind being played live.
Graney is full of sarcastic banter this evening: I Don’t Wanna Know Myself is introduced as being inspired by Ben Lee. Flash In The Pantz is — naturally — hilarious. I’ve always had Stu Thomas unfairly pegged as a bit of a Doug Yule type – yet he unexpectedly leads The MistLY through a natty cover of Sign O’ The Times by velvet half-man Prince, and it sounds quite cool.
It’s all worth the evening — busted shoes, city munters, a missing twenty-dollar note — when the band finish the main set with Mt Gambier Night, distilling all of The MistLY’s exercises in poise and restraint into four compressed minutes. It’s exceptionally beautiful: still quite pop, but with a layered density.
After pretending they’re not going to do an encore, Graney & co close the night with Rock & Roll is Where I Hide. It crackles over with dangerous energy, Graney delivering his prose with a sneering cadence, and it hits its theme too well: Tinker-Tailor-Spy, this is not a real person you’re looking at.
It isn’t exactly so much fun as essential: merci, comrades…
DERMOT CLARKE is a Brisbane-based freelance writer who wasn’t smart enough to leave six years ago. He haunts the Cleveland line and is one part Scotch-Irish, two parts Mi Goreng.