Metro Theatre/ Hopetoun Hotel, Sunday January 8/ Thursday January 12
I want to marry The Brunettes. We’d all live together in a sunny, shiny commune, perform silly musical pantomimes after dinner, before drinking mulled wine until midnight. Over the sounds of chirping crickets and a distant ocean we’d philosophise romantically about life, the universe and everything, and then all sleep holding hands in a big bed with cotton sheets. Considering the press shots of the band only feature the two vox leads, the ridiculously attractive Jonathan and Heather (former lovers to boot), the fact the New Zealand bubblegum indie popsters were actually a six-piece was a pleasant surprise. I’ll bet you a cherry cupcake The Brunettes were wildly unpopular (and thus impossibly cool) band geeks at high school. Every instrument you ever mucked around with in music class managed to find its way into the group’s set, an Architecture in Helsinki-esque collection of sweet and sad songs about love and modern romance. Set highlight goes to ‘Mary Kate & Ashley’, a homage to everyone’s favourite Full House millionaire twins sung passionately deadpan by the gum-chewing Jonathan, complete with masks worn by the other five. The Brunettes were so good they demanded second viewing, a headline slot at the Hopetoun Hotel, a hipster-fuck affair that’d give a Modular party a run for its money. When the amount of hot guys one’s made out with needs more than one hand to tally, you know it’s a good gig. The homely confines of the Hoey suited the Brunettes’ set perfectly, an intimate, gorgeous set full of shared smiles between the players, awkward banter and just another chance to gaze happily at my new favourite Kiwi band.
The Shins. A band that inspires rabid fandom in their well-dressed intellectual pop crowd, it seems like it was only yesterday a motley crew of Sydney hipsters [myself included] had one of our Life Highlights when we picnicked and then swam with the easy-going four-piece. They taught us dice and we all got drunk. Onstage performances now pale in comparison to this flukey afternoon of intimate fun. Boasting aside, The Shins always put on an amazing show. The wisecracking keyboardist/ guitarist Marty keeps the silly factor high while James sings his perfectly realised country-art-pop pieces of poetry with the pained expression of a lover endlessly jilted. We wait patiently for the next album and sing happily to the ones we know and love: set closer ‘So Says I’ a perfect end to a lovely evening of indie bliss.