That’s what’s in store tonight for the lucky winners of tickets to the Coopers After Dark Tour with British India putting on a killer performance at Sydney’s Factory Theatre.
Living up to its warehouse-party-vibe reputation, the venue is alive with dark ale enthusiasts who relish the free booze (Coopers Dark of course!) and mini hamburgers on offer while eagerly awaiting the evening’s draw-card headliners.
Tonight’s the first of six shows that will grace capital cities over the next couple of months and it’s being kicked off with the alternative, progressive sounds of local support act Creo. I’m disappointed that I’m only here in time to catch the last few songs from these guys as their uniquely discordant melodramatic sound and energetic performance really is an unexpected treat.
After a short break between acts, the lights dim and British India take to the stage amid adoring screams from below.
Kicking off the set in their signature no-nonsense style, they launch straight into March Into The Ocean before Declan Melia addresses the room with that killer smile. “Thaank yooww! How you all feeling out there dudes?”.
His relaxed sauntering presence is nicely balanced by the energy from guitarist Nic Wilson and drummer Matt O’Gorman with bassist Will Drummond’s mesmerising Sideshow Bob hair launching a show of it’s own.
Despite all the free beer, the crowd is a little slow to get into the action even though there’s plenty of love in the room. It’s not until about 3 songs in with Plastic Souvenirs that things start getting nice and rowdy. Unfortunately this coincides with some sound troubles as vocals start dropping in and out. The guys are quick to make light of this though; “Sorry about the vocals guys. If it makes you feel any better I’m not singing very well anyway. Nah.. I always sing well!” It’s all sorted in no time though and they’re straight into Blinded.
The crowd is a swaying, bouncing mass in the front few rows by now. We’re treated to a song the band’s been working on for their new record called The Wrong Direction and Declan reminds us what a cool little venue we’re in saying it’s “…one of the best stages in Sydney”. He asks if we’d like to hear something really old and everyone screams at the beginning of Run The Red Light. Summer Forgive Me goes out to “…all the couples you unlucky bastards” and there are several people up on shoulders by now trying to hijack extra attention from the band.
As I Said I’m Sorry fills the room, a tonne of raised phones compete with even more raised Coopers, trying to take photos. At some point someone in the crowd hands Declan a beer which he graciously accepts before laughing “it’s very nearly empty. You’re not sick are you?”.
At the set wrap up of Black And White Radio, the crowd goes mental. Declan’s slung his guitar over his back and dances along with everyone. It’s been an awesome night and as they file off stage, he stays behind, crouching down to make contact with the front row, shaking hands and earnestly thanking everyone. It’s not something you see often at a gig and it sums up the kind of band British India are; down to earth, nice blokes who put on a bloody great show.