The Drones at the Hi Fi in Melbourne (13/09/13)


For anyone who has lived under a rock, Gareth Liddiard (lead and Vox), Mike Noga (Drums),

Fiona Kitschin (Base), Steve Hesketh (Keys) and Dan Luscombe (guitar) are The Drones – A

Melbourne Institution who have been round for a decade.


The band recently released their sixth record “I see Seaweed” and current gigs include

Splendour in the Grass and Dark Mofo festivals and a support place on tour with Neil Young.

A sellout performance earlier this year at the Forum was described by Faster Louder as

“draining, harrowing, cathartic and ecstatic” although other reviews thought the discerning

crowd were a bit boring. This time around, the band has chosen to tour smaller, more intimate

venues, which allow diehard sweaty, drunken fans to get up close and personal with their

distinctive brand of music.


Support act Harmony were the openers, a six piece eclectic mix of bluesy heavy rock and (of

all things!) doo-wop. Led by Tom Lyngcoln (from The Nation Blue), the band mash together

heavy riffs and dark sounds with a sweet all girl 3 piece harmony, which at times made for

incredible listening but at other times seemed a little unnecessary. Not sure I fully got the

direction, but there were moments of genius nevertheless.


The Drones took to the stage and immediately engaged the chatty, boozy crowd.

Interspersing releases from their new record (such as “I See Seaweed” and “How to see

through Fog”) with older gems (“The Minotaur”, “Locust” and “Shark Fin Blues”), the band

created a dynamic landscape of changing melodies with light and shade. Their brand of

music is complex in terms of execution, lyrical themes and musical layering, especially with

the addition of Steve Hesketh on the keys. The technical feats of musicians are not to be

discounted, but it is Gareth Liddiard’s delivery of calm, haunting lyrics that quickly progresses

to spitting, growling vocals that is particularly unique and dramatic.


The set was introspective and personal; the band played as a tight unit, with bassist Fiona

Kitschin generally opting to face the band rather than the crowd. However, there were light

hearted moments along the way such as Dan Luscombe asking for an update on the footy

scores, and Gareth opting to take requests before launching into a jaunty rendition of Bon

Jovi’s “Dead or Alive” after drunken catcalling from fans (which was epically brilliant of course!

). With a Chuck Berry cover (“Downbound Train”) thrown in for good measure, the set was



In typical Drones fashion, the encore was face meltingly epic. The rendition of “Why Write

a Letter That You’ll Never Send” sent punters into a kind of raptured, swaying ecstasy and

the set closer of Leonard Cohen’s “Diamonds in the Mine” saw a combination of musicians

(including Harmony complete with the doo-wop girls) belt out a classic that was musically and

visually impressive.


Overall, the gig was intense, sweaty, boozy and everything you could ever hope for on a

shitty Friday night in Melbourne. The intimate and loose setting suited the Drones down to the

ground, and proved just why they have become such a musical institution that has stood the

test of time.