Two Steps On The Water at The Tote (Melbourne)

Things were already “sardine-y” (as June Jones’ put it) early on at our grungey yet adorable venue of the hour, The Tote Hotel. RVG have a sound as retro as many of the haircuts seen in the room, a surf energy plugged into fuzzed out melodies. The voice of frontwoman Romy was the drawing point, the magnetism that kept me listening closely instead of letting my ears skim the surface. She is emotive. Her vocals twist upwards with considerable power yet are laden down with the stories it had to tell such as on new single ‘That’s All’ and upbeat closer ‘Feral Beach’.

Just as Two Steps On The Water supported Camp Cope at their album launch, Camp Cope have returned the favour and supported them at theirs. Pals supporting pals is what we should all be about. The call of the melancholy bass on ‘Done’ warmed the set, shattering into the clattering pop punk sound that so many have fallen in love with. The second time I have seen them in so many weeks, I found myself picking up new details. Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich with her spider fingers and intricate riffs encouraged me to listen to bass more closely in the future, Sarah ‘Thomo’ Thompson suggested that one should also go hard at all times (and drink beer whilst they’re at it) and front-woman Georgia Maq highlighted the bonuses to good hair care and working hard at your art. ‘Hair’ was a highlight, an unrecorded track about pubes that will return to your mind days after, teasing you with its inaccessibility. They finished with ‘Trap’, Maq’s voice rising to its full enormity.

For the launch of God Forbid Anyone Look Me In The Eye, Two Steps On The Water drew from their extensive discography, delving into the new album, prior EPs and unrecorded gems. There was something for everyone, provided you’re a someone who loves punk-folk, laced with darkness and clinging to your skin. They arranged themselves in a line onstage, a cohesive front; Jonathan Nash on the kit to the left, June Jones’ front and centre with Sienna to her right on violin. Throughout, their respective elements carried forward in a similar fashion, enmeshed yet the threads distinct; harmonies bright yet melting together.

The punters became acquainted with the sheer intensity of Junes’ presence quickly, something she offset with a peppering of jokes between songs. Referencing a Facebook post made prior to the event, she enquired about the sardine-like nature of space before beginning a song that referenced salmon. Though I could not tell you its name, the velveteen finish was a highlight. The set was packed with beautiful mysteries such as this, songs that can’t be located on their Bandcamp (though hopefully one day, hint hint). Faced with a broken guitar in their second last song, Jones murmured the corresponding chords whilst singing, both humorous and skilful in her performance.

The finale stuck like a lump in the throat, transforming into a memory almost immediately as Jones dropped the mic yet kept screaming, her body snapping forwards with each cry. Even though there had been fair warning, the finality carried the small shock of a band aid being ripped off. It was over, but the emotions shared would have been buried deep in those who were there and carried out into the cold night.

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