Arriving at the Delancey on the Lower East side felt like reaching nirvana. After a week of shows, panels and irregular sleep there was a sense of reward, of completion. On the roof, tropical plants waved in the breeze and charcoal smoke drifted through shafts of sunlight. Bands, fans and industry types mingled and lounged on couches, some looking genuinely bushed. Downstairs in the bar and below in the basement, bands rotated on setlists of no more than three or four songs. This showcase was strictly for Australian outfits and featured Cameras, the Grates, Young Magic, Guineafowl, Seekae, Clubfeet, the Amcats, the John Steel Singers, WIM, the Kin, Goodbyemotel and Grace Woodroofe.
When we arrived, trio the Kin was getting into its set. Singer Isaac Koren was warning the Americans in the audience not to see Australians through stereotypes; he then pulled out a gigantic didgeridoo to open the next song. Isaac’s brother, Thorald, plays guitar but pulls extra duty on vocals and keys. Their larger-than-life voices, big keys, big guitar and drumming packed a lot into a little set on a little stage. Their drummer plays a most unconventional setup, drumming only with his hands, no sticks, boxer’s tape wrapped around his fingers. The Kin’s set over, Isaac made us a disarming gesture of hospitality, insisting we try something called a “double banger sanger,” an Australian delicacy made up of two sausages, one slice of white bread with ketchup on top. He made ours personally on the grill upstairs and stuck around for a minute to chat. “Wherever Australians are whenever they meet people, straight away they want to be mates,” explained Isaac. The Aussies’ reputation for friendliness definitely precedes them.
Photographer Tony Mott could be seen in the ring of photographers around the stage, snapping a few quick frames of the John Steel Singers. The five-piece combines horns and indie basics for a bouncy, rhythmic kind of rock. Bassist Damien Hammond and trombonist Pete Bernoth were happy to keep it low key. Their show at the Delancey was just the first of three scheduled for that day. They bore themselves up though and carried their gear off to the next gig.
Some bands are sticking around New York for a while before heading back to Australia. We talked briefly to Guineafowl outside, and he’ll be around a few more days before going home. If you see him out, be nice and give him subway directions and a friendly “g’day” even though we’re pretty sure only the Australians in movies say that.