Stonefield @ Ding Dong Lounge
Melbourne rock and roll institution the Ding Dong Lounge reopened last week after it’s year-long facelift, nip and tuck, and boob job. It’s very nearly back to its former glory – if you can look past the fact that the renovations aren’t quite finished, and as a result we felt a little bit like we were trespassing on a construction site, you can see the foundations of a great rebirth of an iconic venue are firmly in place. Besides, the owner Billy Walsh assures us that everything will be finished “in a week or two”. To celebrate the first weekend of gigs and test out the new sound system, Victorian rockers Stonefield were invited to play the Saturday, while gravelly voiced rock troubador Mark Lanegan took care of Friday and Sunday.
Who the hell are support act Royal Blood and where did they come from? Boasting a unique combination of heavily distorted bass being played like a lead guitar and the sort of drummer who’s a cross between Jack Black, Nick Frost, Dave Grohl and Animal from The Muppets, this White Stripes/early Queens of the Stone Age hybrid are a monstrous band who play a monstrous style of rock and roll. Check out their tracks on Unearthed, and if you get a chance to see them live and catch a facefull of their sweat, do it. The Vulture was very impressed, and counting ourselves lucky that we arrived in time to see them.
Of course it was Stonefield – previously Triple J Unearthed High winners, now world conquering rock stars, that were headlining the night. We were surprised to see that what used to be a four piece now numbers five, as lead singer Amy Findlay has stepped out from behind the drum kit and takes pride of place at the front of the stage. And thank god for that, as her powerful voice is now matched by her bewitching frontwoman skills. She provides a point of focus for a band who, while collecting accolades from all over the place, still have a sense of nervousness to them. On the odd occasion Amy’s three sisters did come out of their shells they were a joy to watch, throwing their long hair around and headbanging like the best, but for the most part it was Amy who commanded our attention.
Opening with ‘Bad Reality’, Stonefield, who are collectively barely older than one Rolling Stone, killed it. The riffs were massive, were delivered with generous lashings of swagger, and had the walls shaking. Triple J rotators ‘Black Water Rising’, ‘Through The Clover’, ‘Drowning’ all drew our fists to the air, while new single ‘Ruby Skies’ is all guitar noodling and cowbell. And it’s great. Only occasionally was Amy’s voice complemented by equally impressive backup vocals from her sisters, and the new material they played tonight points towards more of this to come in the future, with Amy hinting at their inevitable debut album release “early next year”
Their covers of ‘Magic Carpet Ride’ and ‘Whole Lotta Love’, now staples of their live set were delivered with aplomb, and even though we’d been mesmerised all night, Amy still managed to take things to another level with her potent a capella refrain at the end of the Led Zep classic which closed their show.
Their sisterly bond is evident in the way Stonefield perform and the music they make, and these girls just keep getting better and better. They clearly haven’t squandered any of the opportunities that have come their way, and it won’t be long until they are far too big for the Ding Dong stage.