The Grogans: Aussie surf grunge done right

Despite the winter wind doing its best to whip the mullets of queuing patrons out of place, it’s warm, dark and delightful inside the walls of Richmond’s beloved Corner Hotel on a crisp Saturday night.  

Pints of pale ale slosh over glass rims, disappearing quickly into the red floral carpet underfoot, and bowls of hot chips are divided between friends in pub booths before the show starts. Wrists are proffered and promptly stamped with ink for entry. Fog machines pump out a steady stream of sweet smoke, blanketing the concert venue in a heady dose of mystery and fragmenting the neon blue stage lights into shards of brilliant colour. It’s the weekend and the crowd is buzzing. Friends spot each other through the mist and shout in delighted greeting. Hands are shaken, backs are slapped and everywhere people are keen to unwind from the work week with some homegrown indie rock.  

While most of the crowd has braved the cold to see The Grogans on their Australia/NZ Inside My Mind tour tonight, they’re more than happy to put their hands together for supporting acts Polly & the Pockets and Bones & Jones. Polly & the Pockets, the first act of the night, get the growing audience going with a half hour of 70s-adjacent rock. Bones & Jones bring a grungier sound to the table and set a fair few heads banging. With brief breaks between sets, the crowd swells and chatters till 10:40 rolls around and The Grogans take the stage. The band, a Melbourne-based trio of best friends, rides into the tour on a high from a Triple J Unearthed discovery and some smash hits like Lemon To My Lime and Money Will Chase You. 

The energy is palpable as the main act assume positions. The band, formed in 2016 by Quin Grunden, Angus Vasic and Jordan Lewis, launch straight into their set to roaring applause. Beneath a delicate art installation of white fabric upon which mesmerising projections move in time with the music, The Grogans show us exactly why they’re a band to watch. The set feels as unique as their diverse and evolving repertoire – both psychedelic in the style of Ocean Alley and grungier, dirtier, like Amyl and the Sniffers. The Grogans defy genre pigeon-holing, and are at once 70s surfer rock, garage grunge, laidback reggae and gutsy blues.  

As the night deepens, the crowd crests and peaks like the waves that have inspired so many of The Grogans best hits. One hopeful crowd surfer attempts a gallant flight, and the girl in front of me manages to sit on her friend’s shoulders for a whole song before being booted out by security. The band breaks from the music only to express their gratitude to the crowd, perform an Acknowledgement of Country and have a few laughs together before diving back in. Not a single hand is idle as the set comes to a close and the familiar chords of Lemon To My Lime catch the crowd by the throat – they are all waving through the air as we call in midnight mid-song. I’m not sure what a band sees from stage, but for The Grogans, I imagine it would be this; a sea of brightly lit technicolour faces, all grinning, arms raised to the heavens. 

Photo by Claudia Weiskopf

Article written by Claudia Weiskopf

Header image via Bandcamp

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