Although he’s been on our periphery for a while, Tom Iansek of Big Scary has had a pretty impressive year. Releasing his second solo album About Face under his #1 Dads moniker late last year, Iansek was not only nominated for the 2014 Vanda, but also the esteemed Young Songwriting competition. With his delightfully husky vocals and delicate compositions, #1 Dads have been hummed along to by many fans and now, in the lead-up to his Splendour In The Grass performance, Iansek is now taking the project for his final July shows. As it turns out the #1 Dads are, in a sense, hanging up their boots, with these very shows the last ever chance for fans to experience the project in an energetic live setting.
Kicking things off in Iansek’s hometown of Melbourne, the night began at the beloved Corner Hotel with support from the mysterious Mordialloc blokes Slum Sociable. If you’re not yet familiar with them Slum Sociable, the band itself are an eclectic mix of lo-fi jazz-hop, combined laced with gentle indie pop and elements of folktronica. They are in essence the poster boys for hybridized genres, and they are certainly churning out some uniquely magnetic tunes.
The four-piece have been gaining momentum with their single ‘Anyway’ which features a distinct harp tugged over a laid-back beat christened by washed out vocals. When they take to the stage, it’s easy to recognise the appeal. The crowd began typically shy, but by their sets end transform the room to be bursting of gig-goers who have crept their way closer to the stage. The bizarre (but strangely satisfying) fusion of their music comes to life onstage; the warbling dubstep inspired basslines and elements of jazz meshed with electronic sampling. They certainly received a lot of love from the Wednesday night crowd, even managing to score one of the highly coveted gig-achievements; a bra thrown onto the stage.
Joined later by Gus Rigby, Iansek was on bass duty as well as a drummer, but the question on everyone’s mind remained – what special guests that feature on the record might be making an appearance? Luckily, it isn’t too long before fans found out the answer. Iansek opens with the very mellow and somewhat melancholic ‘My Rush’ from About Face where each “ooooh” is echoed by the crowd. ‘Life Oh Life’ from the #1 Dads’ 2011 Man Of Leisure debut provides the perfect change of pace with its choppy, energetic rhythm and of course, Iansek’s soft lush vocals. Switching from guitar to keyboard, Lowlake’s vocalist Tom Snowdon joins the stage for a beautiful rendition of ‘Return To’. Snowdon’s haunting falsetto cuts through the crowd in the gentlest way possible, while Iansek’s despondent piano riff lulls the crowd into a strangely relaxed disposition. There is something almost ethereal about Snowdon’s voice, and it sounds every bit as heavenly live.
It isn’t too long before #1 Dads are joined on stage by another guest to assist the crowd favourite, after all, no ‘So Soldier’ performance would be complete without the vocal prowess of Ainslie Wills. Like catching a whiff of your mothers’ favourite perfume, Wills’ voice somehow feels like home to ones ears. Afterwards Iansek jokes that the show won’t go too much later, for after all, “us Dads like to have an early night…. I should point out that none of us are actually dads,” he laughs in response to a very vocal audience member shouting “DILF!” Iansek also unearths a little of the speculation surrounding the future of #1 Dads; “I haven’t called it quits, there’s just a lot of stuff I need to do first,” he reassures the crowd.
Thankfully there’s still time in the evening for a couple more tracks, the first of which is an ode to the suburb in which Iansek lived in his first ever share-house. ‘Camberwell’ starts off slowly with its pitter-patter beat and lazy strums. Iansek’s spoken word verses make it one of the standout tracks, but it’s Rigby’s saxophone solo that really makes it a highlight of the evening. #1 Dad’s have every intention of going out on a high for night one of their last ever tours, achieving just that with their exceptional Like A Version cover of FKA twigs ‘Two Weeks’. Snowdon and Wills joined the stage again, curating the layers of the intricate rendition to life through bone-chilling harmonies. (If you ever have a chance to see this ensemble perform this song live do not pass it up!) This may be the end of the line for the project’s live possibilities, but whatever Iansek decides to do next is sure to be just as enthralling and worthwhile.