The Last Dinosaurs
17th April 2012 @ Phoenix Public House
Last Dinosaurs are off to a bad start in that singer Sean Casky’s guitar strap breaks before the first words of the song are sung. “The stupid thing is, I actually bought that strap today and it was fucking expensive!” he says. We laugh sympathetically.
Support band Millions lends one of their guitar straps and that allows Sean to concentrate more on singing and jumping up and down and less on clamping his guitar to his torso to effectively play it. ‘Time & Place’ (which is about “a genius inventor called Nikola Tesla,” explains Sean) makes us forget about the mishap, with its staccato guitar riff, tight drumming from Danjuro Koyama and bonus guitar solo courtesy of lead guitarist Lachlan Caskey. Koyama and Caskey drive the performance, consistently delivering their parts with a punch. An extra, fifth musician stands in the corner, helping out on synth and percussion.
Sean introduces his favourite song off In A Million Years, ‘Weekend’: “It’s my favourite at least, and I think it’s their favourite as well.” A quieter song in its first half, it doesn’t translate well live. Bass player Sam Gethin-Jones’ harmonies are too loud over Sean’s lead vocals, and the synth (one of the song’s highlights) is lost in the noise. It takes until the bridge to finally lift the song and make it convincing and sure.
They manage to get ‘Andy’ oh so right, if the audience’s applause is anything to go by. It helps that it’s the ultimate dance jam. It has all the elements of a fun, live song: upbeat and catchy, a bass line with more groove than your mother’s old bell-bottoms, percussion guy going hard on the tambourine, tropical-flavoured guitar, a dash of falsetto—and there you have it.
Harmonies can improve a song. A bland melody can be instantly remedied with the addition of a harmony. But when they don’t go as they should, it ruins the song. They’ve got a lot of weight, them tricky harmonies do. This happens, unfortunately, in ‘sexy’ song (well maybe not exactly ‘sexy’ but more of a mood-maker than the other tunes, perhaps) ‘Sunday Night’, causing Sam to shake his head after he gives up on one particular line. We feel you, bro. It’s okay, you tried.
“This is a heavier song, but it’s like dancey-heavy, if you know what I mean,” says Sean of ‘I Can’t Decide’. Like ‘Andy’, it seems it was written to be performed live, but in a different way. It’s got build-ups and breakdowns (including a magnificent display of energy and abandon in the form of a riveting outro), guttural guitar noises and a splash of angst.
In a surprise but legendary move, they cover Spiller’s ‘Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love)’ and they cover it well. The bass line shines, they incorporate their signature muted guitar-as-percussion strums, and Sean and Sam sing over each other in the “Why does it feel so/Why does it feel so/Why does it feel so good” parts. It was good for us, too, dudes.
Then, in a not-so-surprising move, they play their two most popular songs last. Sean smiles throughout the entirety of ‘Honolulu’ (it looks like he’s holding back laughter), loving the crowd’s vocal participation. Sam introduces ‘Zoom’ by saying that it went off in Perth but he reckons we can do better; nothing like city-on-city rivalry to get things going, eh? And go off we do.
There is no fake encore business, which is refreshing (to those who turn up solely for the music then hurry home to bed), but it might have been due to the fact that the audience stopped cheering once the band left the stage. The crowd undoubtedly enjoyed Last Dinosaurs’ set, but perhaps they decided that they were happy to finish the night with ‘Zoom’. So ends Last Dinosaurs’ thoroughly fun and charming, albeit slightly inconsistent set.
- Stephanie-Bowie Liew