SOUTHERN RIVER BAND
Photos by Damien Crocker
The Southern River Band’s live shows are so fun and energetic they deserve to be on everyone’s to-do list. And front man, Callum Kramer deserves his own show on the telly.
The Southern River Band’s front-man Cal Kramer is possibly the most entertaining man in Australia.
Their shows are good not just because he is such an entertainer – the band has also written some bangers on their new album, and the album launch show at Freo.Social last month was carried by the quality of the songs as much as the quality of the showmanship. The ’70s and ’80s rock influences have seeped into the bones of both Kramer and the talented band who dutifully allow him to be a total and utter rock star.
Watching them is like watching a modest John Deacon and Brian May skillfully and brilliantly playing background to the awesomeness that was the showman Freddie Mercury.
And surely Mercury’s ability to own the stage and capture the audience must have been somewhere in Kramer’s circle of influence – along with Van Halen and all the big-haired and big guitar-playing 70s and 80s rock gods that he venerates – as their sounds and moves are celebrated with every song the band plays on stage.
The launch of the band’s second album, Rumour & Innuendo, filled Freo.Social with passionate fans. And they lapped it up.
The band started strong with the album’s first song, ‘Chimney’, which has every element that a song needs for it to rise above being just a rock song to being a great rock song.
They continued with the melodic ‘Second Best’, with chord progressions that made me wanna sing “go your own waaaaay…” as they gathered everything that was good about Fleetwood Mac and Van Halen into the one song.
And the energy and fun continued for the whole night, the crowd was mesmerised by the music as well as the man.
SRB is almost a tribute band – a tribute to every great rock band that ever was – with their ocker Thornlie rock god as frontman.
With a mullet to make a young Suzie Quattro jealous, the porn-star mo and his best Dunlop Volleys, the sexy silver flares and ripped bare chest Kramer sported at Freo.Social for the album launch was just the support act in this whirlwind of bogan-tastic, rock-god awesomeness.
Kramer celebrates his eastern suburbs roots with a fabulousness that is both ironic, fun and yet deeply, deeply authentic.
On the third or fourth “fuck youse c***”, even a SRB virgin knows that his inner bogan is so deep that Jack Daniels flows through this man’s veins.
For those as yet unaware of the utter delight that is a SRB show, don’t get me wrong when I talk of bogans and cussing – we are not talking about an uncouth, DB-wearing grunter.
We are talking about the most fabulous – the most David Lee Roth – of Perth superstars.
He makes “bogan” cool. He makes swearing friendly.
Kramer is a man who understands the essence of a classic rock song; the latest SRB album Rumour & Innuendo is full of bangers with great guitar intros, catchy choruses and romantic themes of roots you shouldna had and the troubles with Tinder.
These die-hard fans already knew half the songs by heart at the launch – which is quite an accomplishment for the band when you consider the album as a whole was only dropped two weeks before.
While the Bogan part of Cal’s Bogan-Tastic is deep in his soul, the ‘Tastic part is pure theatrics; every moment on stage is an opportunity to entertain, from the drag-queen-style disrobing from his pink fluffy gown to bloke-pashing.
A proof of his talent as a performer is that the constant “fuck yous” and yelling for “more fucken drinks”, never arc-up a crowd of enthusiastic alcohol-swilling fans into something aggressive or ugly or even macho.
This is a band that lives in the ironic. There is some magical undercurrent in their performance that tells you this is theatrical performance at its best. It is celebrating the rock star.
Rumour & Innuendo is full of bangers and I expect its songs will be learnt by neighbours across Perth and the nation as its played loudly at suburban barbecues over summer. And beyond – because the album is indeed a new classic. It debuted at #3 in the indi charts and has been lauded across the nation.
This album is exactly what SRB needed to take it to the next level. It’s bang on.