On a frosty autumn night, in a suitably trendy street in Fitzroy, Melbourne, a melancholy riff floated down between the cobblestones and caressed the rugged-up passersby. It hovered between shop fronts and dodged the beeping, wailing traffic before trailing back to a small pub within which it was listened to in adoration by the hundred or so people lucky enough to be there. Yes, it was a very lucky night for those who were listening to the blessed music of Didirri.
The band that describes their musical style in the four words of ‘don’t folk with me’ certainly did not disappoint. The three-piece band from regional Melbourne, Didirri, recently played a series of shows every Wednesday from the 1-29 April, ably supported by Jordan Clay and the Skeleton Band, at the laid back Evelyn.
The Evelyn was a prime location for this local band, with dimly lit chandeliers scattered haphazardly upon the ceiling, red curtains covering the back of the stage and stripped-back brick walls creating an intimate setting. Draped languidly upon the couches surrounding the stage, and scattered around the bar lay the audience members; the picture of patience, they lounged placidly while waiting for the main performance.
The opening act, Jordan Clay and the Skeleton Band harked from Werribee, with Clay, Josh, RJ and Benny playing folk rock ballads with sorrowful lyrics, such as
Couldn’t be much more far from you
Down rosy cheeks stream the tears
That make me wonder why
Sung in Clay’s husky timbre, these lyrics were not only reminiscent of popular blues ballads yet also contained the rhythm and swing of later eras. Furthermore, his warm crooning style complemented the sparse base, while the analogue piano created a rustic, natural aesthetic.
Leading the band, Clay also adopted the same down-to-earth air, atypical to what is expected of a solo artist. “Other people probably say something intelligent,” he remarked while tuning his guitar, “I’ve got nothing.
While his music may not have held the full attention of all the audience members who calmly awaited Didirri, Clay’s self-depreciating smile and witty names for his guitars, Billy the Base among others, certainly piqued their interests and was a welcome introduction to the night. Finishing their set with a solo from Clay, the band were given a raucous round of applause and ushered off of the stage with more than a couple pledges of lovesick adoration*. Soon after, succeeding a small interval during which many more people were ushered into the cosy venue from outside, Didirri were warmly welcomed onto the stage.
“It’s like a bedroom on stage!” The front man, Daniel O’Keefe announced when he walked, alone, onto the platform. He stopped and seemed to think before following up with the question, “What bedroom has a hundred people and these bright lights?”
Beginning with a solo song from the vocalist, the audience stayed sitting on their seats and couches, yet visibly were seen to lean forward where before they had lounged, to listen intently when before had only listened amicably. He proceeded to clearly interact with the audience, asking “Should I invite the rest of me up here?” and subsequently doing just that at the crowds encouragement, claps and screams.
Their music had roots based heavily in hillbilly, where folk music was first popularized. Their own musical style is self-described as alternative-folk which is a much more famous genre now than it has ever been before. Even though Didirri played many acoustic-inspired songs and pieces, O’Keefe played the electric guitar adding moments of intense reverb, while Elijah Maddern played repetitive hooks on the drums and Josh Milgate kept the groove constant on the bass.
Not all of their songs had such a groove though, with lyrics including:
I knew God would remember my face
Please remember my face
O’Keefe performed these lyrics soulfully, his voice sliding up and down from one note to another, before softly ending his notes on a sigh. Indeed, this bittersweet tone was a motif through out their performance, with even the happiest of songs seeming to imply the possibility of sadness. Some of the more mellow pieces, with lighter playing, slower rhythms and lack of a heavy drum beat, would contain unique finger-picking of the guitar that was played morosely, creating hooks that were all the more memorable for their quiet refrain.
Whatever the mood, it definitely appealed to their audience of alternatively dressed hipsters, of whom many seemed friends of the performers. For example, when O’Keefe mentioned that his next song was the ‘dumpling song’, an echo was heard within the crowd before some of the young men in the front shouted with vigor “Yes! The Dumpling Song!”
It was nearly midnight when the band announced their last song, “Strange. Introduced as a song “about caring for someone but not loving them,” it ended the show on a sorrowful note, but perhaps that was how Didirri intended to be remembered; as a band that captures the listeners’ heartstrings and doesn’t let go until the very end.
The Concert was definitely worth seeing live as it was not only a performance that flowed incredibly well, but it was also a superb introduction to the incredible talent of local Melbournians. If you haven’t head of Didirri then it is to your detriment but wipe away those tears still lingering on your cheeks, there is hope. They will be playing a couple more shows in early June at The Tote in Collingwood and The Northcote Social Club. In the meantime, satiate your withdrawals by following them on sound cloud: https://soundcloud.com/didirri_official.
3 ½ out of 5 cool beans.
*This could be due to the authors artistic licence but if you want to double-check if they’re THAT good then please wander over to their aesthetically friendly Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/jordanclayandtheskeletonband?fref=ts