Concert Review: Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever @ Black Cat (9/17/18)

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever (Photo Credit: Warwick Baker)

“We drove around in the car, DC looks good.”

That’s true! The five lads from Australia collectively known as Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever (C.F), gave the modest crowd at the Black Cat’s Mainstage every reason to enjoy ourselves and a chance to practice the sublime art of head-nodding.

Their indie rock vibe was well received, and they played an enthusiastic show, presumably because that’s what they do, but also because this was their last gig on the U.S. leg of their tour. And according to them, DC looks good, so we deserve a good show, right?

Rolling Blackouts C.F. formed in 2013 from the collaboration of three singers (and they are guitarists!), Fran Keaney, Tom Russo and Joe White, and rounded out with Joe Russo on bass and Marcel Tussie on drums.

To start the show, they all jumped in unison and jammed in a circle, to the tune of the spritely “The Hammer”.

They last played at DC9 in May, and they are touring for their debut album named after a mine in Australia, Hope Downs (via Sub Pop). They also previously released a couple of EPs, including the excellent French Press from 2017.

They played 16 songs at the Cat, including 8 of the 10 songs from Hope Downs. Like the jangly, dance-inducing “An Air Conditioned Man” and “Bellarine”, with its sweet guitar hook about a rural locality (aka suburb) in Victoria, Australia.

But it is “Mainland”, their biggest single from Hope, that really shined through and got the crowd moving.

Often Fran, Tom and Joe would trade off on the singing duties, no one truly claiming the sole role of lead vocals. No one needed to, as they were all well-skilled with weaving together a strong medley of different deliveries and tonal styles, cast over their mix of topical lyrical poetry. ‘Back on the mainland, the chimps were coming up trumps.’

Another song I liked mid-way through the set from French Press is “Julie’s Place”, a fervent opportunity for them to play together in a circle and intone the catchy, drawn-out chorus ‘The liiiiiiiiiight…..plaaaaaaayed up’. They ended the main set with “French Press”, a dreamy ode to things not working out and to letting go. ‘I’m all right if you ask me, but you never do.’

Rolling Blackouts C.F. returned for two older encore songs, “Colours Run” and the energetic flourish of “Wide Eyes”.

Their show was quite good. I also got a kick out of some of the song names used on the printed setlist (that the sound guy was using). Mooooonland for “Mainland”, Bench Press for “French Press” and the list ended with Fran’s Bum, but that didn’t correspond with a song, leaving one with so many questions about Fran and his bum.

Questions that will be answered however, include ‘is Hope Downs worth your time?’ Yes. And DC is still good.

The Hammer
Clean Slate
Talking Straight
Wither With You
Sister’s Jeans
Julie’s Place
Sick Bug
An Air Conditioned Man
Exclusive Grave
Time in Common
Fountain of Good Fortune
French Press

Colours Run
Wide Eyes

Author: Jeremy Bailey

Writer and editor living in Washington, D.C.

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