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VERGE COLLECTION @ Jack Rabbit Slim’s gets 7/10

Verge Collection @ Jack Rabbit Slim’s 
w/ White Blanks, Debbie Downers 
Friday, April 13, 2018 

7/10 

When the metal fridge doors at Jack Rabbits swung open on the night of Verge Collection’s album launch, I was greeted to only a handful of people, all facing the stage. It would be hard to ignore this opening band. An empty room can be intimidating for a supporting act as they rally the crowd for the headliner, but the girls from Debbie Downers quite literally did not give a fuck if you were watching or not.

Debbie Downers

All four female musicians were dressed in black, their energy pent up and fueled with angst as the lead singer paced the stage carrying a fluoro pink tambourine. She was grungy, her voice grainy against heavy guitar and animal sounds from the supporting singers. The band played exaggerated percussions to create as much noise as they could but the lead singer truly held her own with guttural vocals and high screeches as they serenaded David Attenborough and discussed being Practical Unfashionable (their new single) from tracks on their EP, Eat my Skorts. They could have been jamming in their living room by how natural and comfortable they were on stage as they joked with each other and with the mostly empty room. It was awesome to see a post 80s feminist band replicating a similar ‘screw men and screw you’ attitude as they voiced their emotions and voiced them loudly.

White Blanks

As the crowd started to trickle in, White Blanks jumped onto stage. A band comprised of 3 musicians, there was personality so thick onstage that it was like watching a soda can that had been shook for five minutes before being released. The boys were mental. Young and obviously self-aware of their abilities, they shouted at the audience with a high energy that would be hard to maintain over extended periods. Their songs were well thought out for such a young group of musicians and it will be exciting to see how their lyrical approach changes once they have more life experience to draw from. This is a band that you really need to add to your ‘see live’ list if you enjoy a good show. To end the set, the lead singer (who was rocking denim overalls and bleached blonde hair) flipped flat onto his back whilst still playing guitar then proceeded to kick the guitar and dive off the stage to a spot on the dance floor that was completely empty. Completely chaotic but quality entertainment.

Verge Collection

The dance floor was almost full by the time Verge Collection made their way onto stage. Punters pushed to stand at the front and with rally car crashes projected onto the screen behind them, the four-piece band began their set with one of their best songs to date. Class of 09 is a personal favourite as it talks about the long-term impact of your teenage youth with structured lyrics that went perfectly with the lead singer Ben Arnold’s throwaway vocals.  The lyrical talent of Arnold cannot be questioned as he simplifies and creates stories that contextualise the modern suburban youth experience. The crowd was buzzing by the time the song ended as their indie mellow looks enjoyed the beats of the band we were here to see.

Verge Collection

It was interesting though the lack of diversity within the crowd as the punters were predominately millennials. I’m sure this will change during the development of the band as they start to connect to a wider audience. Their debut album Flaneur, was received really well as the crowd sang the words to Feelin’ Old and Black Dog. I like a band that has a lot of guitars and I love a band that has a confident drummer. To support Ben’s lyrics, their ability to shape a musical journey is no doubt one of the reasons they have achieved so much success so soon.

Verge Collection

When you talk to someone about this band and you say something like, “have you heard of Verge Collection?” what you usually find is the person you’re talking to will start talking about their local government and bin days. There’s an automatic misconception which is ironic. What I hear when I listen to Verge Collection and what I saw on Friday night were two very different things. The band play really good music and their new album is amazing but I almost felt like the album was too personal for them to play live. It was like they sang the songs but still felt shy about showing you that vulnerability that connects an audience to a live musician.

Verge Collection

It was unfortunate that I didn’t see the lead guitarist look up once from his guitar because he would have seen how much the crowd were adoring him. I thought Arnold could have done more to have fun with the crowd during the music but I completely understand that his hands were busy with his guitar. But, still… Maybe it’s because the supporting acts had so much personality that it felt like this disjointed experience where they sounded too much like their album. In saying that, both the bassist and drummer looked like they were having a lot of fun. I’d imagine that during the latter part of their tour they will lean more into their live show performance and feel more comfortable with sharing their music. It would be cool to see Ben really let go and match his performance with the depth in the lyrics. We don’t want to just hear you. We want to feel you too.

ANNIE MUNROE

Photos by Jackson Mead