Support the Support :: 6 unforgettable gig-openers

May 8th 2014


When was the last time you didn’t look up the set times for a gig, and just showed up at doors? It’s a rarity these days to see a gig packed out from start to finish. We focus on the bands we want to see and don’t want to lend our precious pre-drinking time to the ones we haven’t heard of. We forget that every headliner was once the opening act, and we could be missing something incredible.

This month, our buddies at Cake Wines are encouraging you to support the support. Get down to gigs early, give everyone a crowd to play to, support our live music venues and get a free glass of wine. Yeah. Free wine!

In case you needed more encouragement (you cruel minx), we asked Danny “Hipshakin” Noonan to take us through six support acts that have claimed permanent territory in his memory, for one reason or another…



Supporting: Yann Tiersen

16 April 2010 @ The Rio Theater, Santa Cruz, California, USA

At first we thought they were roadies: eleven, brightly dressed, youthful, gender-diverse roadies. I dragged some friends along to see Yann Tiersen because I’m a sucker for the French film Amélie, for which he wrote the score. It was one of the first gigs any of us had ever gone to, so of course we arrived right when the doors opened and expected Yann Tiersen to start playing immediately. So we were a little surprised when the “roadies” picked up, tuned, and started playing the instruments – together – as if they were a band or something. But what a pleasant surprise it was, and what a band. Typhoon make the most of their eleven members, combining well-layered horn and string sections with beautiful vocal harmonies and a front man who can sing the body electric. This plucky Portland band completely upstaged the headliner, and one of my friends was so enraptured that I found her the next day, in her garden, painting their album cover. Typhoon are on the line-up for both Lollapalooza and San Francisco’s Outside Lands festival this year. Here’s hoping they make it out to Sydney some day.


Supporting: James Blake // Beach House

28 July 2011 @ The Factory Theatre // 22 March 2013 @ La Cigale, Paris, France

Opening for James Blake in 2011, the ever so soulful Marques Toliver came across as an artist who had not yet “made it,” and was happy to share that fact with his audience. He sported a scarf made from the bottom-fifth of his t-shirt; abruptly stopped an anecdote about his time in Florida when he realised he was about to confess to a crime; and didn’t have any CD cases for his LP, so just drew on some paper bags instead. He even declared at one point that “Beyoncé’s time is over! Now is the time of Toliver!”, ad even if that probably wasn’t the case I still hoped he would make it. Two years later and I spot him in the crowd at La Cigale; he had just opened for Beach House. I walk up and introduce myself, and say I saw him two years ago in Sydney. He says “Oh yeah, that was right after Amy Winehouse died!” He says he now has an LP released, and is about to go on tour, and asks if he can take my photo. After he takes it, he says, “Now I’ve got your soul!” I’m happy to let him to keep it.


Supporting: Pond

19 April 2012 @ The Standard

My friend had described The Laurels to me as “kind of psych, kind of shoegaze,” and while he was in no way wrong, that description hardly prepared me for what I witnessed that night. If it was shoegaze, then it was the kind of shoegaze that made each spec of dust and frayed canvas fibre on my old beat-up Cons seem like part of a beautiful whole. And if it was psych, then it was a kind of Zen-psych, in which each note and nuance seemed to inevitably melt into a cosmic whole, bringing order to musical chaos and harmony to the dissonance. I guess you could say it was pretty spiritual. By the time Pond came on – fresh from kicking out the jams at SXSW – we were all on another plane of consciousness and well prepared to have our minds blown. Pond did not disappoint. The Gooch Palms were also on the bill that night. To this day it’s the best $16 I ever spent.


Supporting: The Black Keys

21 October 2012 @ Newcastle Entertainment Centre

This is the only support act I’ve ever seen where the crowd was not merely dismissive or unengaged, but actually hostile. So hostile that one reviewer described their on-stage demeanour as “The height of rudeness!” which gave rise to its own satirical tumblr. As much as I would like to play the contrarian and give a more equivocal review of their set, I just can’t. Royal Headache simply did not give a damn. And even if not-giving-a-damn is kind of their shtick; and even if the two bands’ fan bases and musical styles hardly overlap, at least not in 2012, their set was still a disaster. Which is a pity, because I quite like their studio material, and I can’t help but think that a circa-2012 Royal Headache supporting a circa-2003 Black Keys would have gone completely differently – and be memorable for all the right reasons.


Supporting: Flume

19 January 2013 @ La Bellevilloise, Paris, France

Snow was falling outside the club, but inside the atmosphere was fiery. A hodgepodge of Parisian hipsters and Aussie ex-pats were filling the cavernous venue at an overwhelming rate, and the crowd was getting a little too rowdy by the time Soul Square took the stage. The hip-hop collective, comprised of four beatmakers from Nantes and fronted by Chicago-born MC RacecaR, dropped a soul and jazz-infused set that could have come straight out of 1992, and was just the trick to get the crowd grooving. As we bounced to those joyful beats I had remember having something of a minor epiphany. I had been in Paris for only a week, would be there for another six months, had no apartment, no bank account and no support-system. But in that moment I knew that somehow, someway, everything was going to be alright. (You can check out a recording of that set here.)


Supporting: Retiree

29 March 2014 @ Civic Underground

Is a support act still the support if you don’t stay for the headliner? I’m not sure. All I do know is, when I was in a spot of romantic strife the good doctor Donny Benét was there to cure what ailed me. The sophisticated lover has had his share of romance and heartbreak, and he knows that sometimes all a guy needs is a little musical catharsis. And a cheesy Moog solo is the best kind of catharsis. I have never danced harder or smiled more during a support act then I did that night. By the back-end of the set I was dancing up on a girl who would later rush the stage and deputise herself as Donny’s back-up dancer. I don’t know if she was laughing at me or with me, but I chose not to care. As Donny knows all too well, there’s nothing more attractive than confidence.



For more info on Support The Support and your free wine times, watch the video below and head to the Cake Wines website.



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