Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Grates at The Gov, ow!

Adelaide: we’ve got great food, but tiny water bottles. That is at least according to The Grates exceptionally lovely front-woman, Patience Hodgson. “This must be for a baby or something,” she breathlessly announced to The Gov’s sold-out crowd last night, holding up a miniature Mt. Franklin bottle. Given that the 21-year-old vocalist had just bounced around for the past twenty minutes like a toddler on twelve jugs of red cordial, it was no surprise she was breaking out in a sweat.

It was Adelaide’s turn for a serving from the Brisbane three-piece’s national tour tonight, and we were there ready and waiting to have our Teeth Lost, and Hearts won … over.

Upon arrival to The Gov at half past nine, we were disappointed to learn that both the support bands, John Steel Stringers and The Vasco Era, had been and gone for the night. Perhaps the Gov had pushed the bands on earlier in a bid to respect that the Sunday night crowd (likely hungover from the night before). Not to mention that the balmy weather had also turned the venue into a furnace. I managed to locate a source of breeze near the beer garden door, albeit it being next to a really, really scary couple dancing like they were on crack, and anxiously waited.

As the stage lights dimmed, two rotating 8-point stars were unsheathed along with the projection of a globe with “The Grates” branded across it. At once, the Converse’d feet below worked up to an excited shuffle. Then, with an entrance truly in Grates fashion, the leading lady herself Patience ran on stage in a combination of both star-jumps and hair flips, followed by guitarist John Patterson and drummer Alana Skyring and a backup bass player. The red lighting was especially harsh on the stage, perhaps to help hide the large burns marring most of Patience’s left arm. Yet sashaying to and ‘fro in her pink frock before any chords had even been plucked, she was clearly having a ball already.

Opening with Gravity Wont Get You High’s early hit Science Is Golden, the trio instantly smashed through the stickiness of the night with vibrant aplomb. You’d think that Hodgson had an annual subscription to Cottee’s, because the energy of this chick is amazing. She bounced, she bounded, she head-banged, and all the while still growled her way through lung-belting vocals without a breath. “We’re so happy to be here! Thankyou! They don’t call it Radelaine for nothing,” Hodgson chuckles with screwball charm, before pouncing on a punter below and clambering on his shoulders to holler out Carve Your Name.

Midway through their set, it becomes clear just how much this group have grown since their garage days in ’04 and ’05. Last time I saw this group was a few years back at Big Day Out, when no-one really knew who they were. Nowadays, Patience’s vocal palate is much stronger, they’ve got bass undertones, their songs are sounding a lot more polished and their fan base has certainly grown double-fold. Yet despite their surge in popularity, their music still maintains that kid’s-birthday-party charm. Their oldest tracks, Trampoline and Sukkafish were some of the most warmly received for the night, and the band seemed equally as happy to play them with toothy grins.

If a set rollcall of all their top songs wasn’t enough to please the fans, Patience had prepared for this – with a throng of party tricks! This included a rhythmic gymnastics ribbon, a voodoo staff with a plastic skull attached and a number of raspberries blown at the crowd. The people in front of me seemed happy at least – the spiky haired woman furiously punching at the air and her thick-necked, mulleted boyfriend desperately trying to keep up. It was at this point that I began edging away from them for fears of being knocked out.

Wrapping up the night with recent JJJ favourite Burn Bridges, followed by an encore of 19 20 20, the band bashfully burbled their way through the last few minutes of their set. “Wow, thanks so much guys,” Patience once again gushed, before prancing away like a deer in a forest. It was a sad sight to see their cheery faces walk off, but a real experience in itself to see just how much this group has absolutely skyrocketed since I last saw them. Something akin to a mother bird seeing her babies leave the nest and fly away…. sniff.

Great show, great music, and a lot of promise for this band. Oh, and I’m pretty sure I speak for everyone in that room in saying that Patience Hodgson is the most indescribably cute thing alive.

Just sayin’.

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