music

Review—Scott & Charlene’s Wedding at The Tote Hotel

February 25, 2020

Will Minack

Scott & Charlene’s Wedding returned to the Tote last month, launching a batch of wry, restless tracks from their new EP When in Rome, Carpe Diem.

Following lengthy opening sets from The Opals, Luxury and Bricks & Tracy, singer Craig Dermody and co. took to the stage nearly an hour late, just moments before midnight. Nobody in the Tote crowd seemed to mind. The Melbourne-based band were playing on their home ground – and kicking into the wind.  

In a display of local solidarity, the band announced prior to the show that all ticket proceeds would be donated to the Kangaroo Island Mayoral Relief & Recovery Fund and the Victorian Bushfire Appeal. It’s been a hostile few months for a nation battling one of its worst natural disasters on record. The always frenetic Tote crowd seemed to swallow up this collective fatigue, and spat Dermody’s earnest lyrics back out with disproportionate – though not unwarranted – ferocity. 

Scott & Charlene’s songs operate with disarming simplicity. ‘Scrambled Eggs’, the opening song of the night, perhaps demonstrates this trait best. Over a ragged guitar line, Dermody details the making of scrambled eggs (“they’re immaculate”), going to work (“I lift heavy stuff”) and afternoon beers (“maybe have a bet, maybe not”). The words bristle with warm familiarity –  an effect further enhanced by a crowd taking on supporting vocal duties for the night. 

Photos by Dallas Howell (@dallashowellphotos)

Much like their previous releases, the songs from When in Rome sap melancholy and longing from the most mundane reminiscences. The wistful ‘Salt in Your Hair’, which follows Dermody discovering an old photograph whilst cleaning out his room, is soaked with this sandy nostalgia. It’s the EPs breeziest – and best – track, and played like a cool breath over the sweat-drenched crowd. 

That’s not to say the band’s more muscular, garage-y sounds were met with any less adoration. Dermody surfed over the top of the rabble during favourites ‘Footscray Station’ and ‘Don’t Bother Me’. While the jangly, Lou Reed-esque guitar-work of ‘Outside World’ and ‘Back in the Corner’, both from the new EP, was a testament to the playful chemistry of this current incarnation of the band.

The band closed the set with a buoyant cover of Mental as Anything’s ‘Live it Up’, a tribute to vocalist Greedy Smith who passed away late last year. If this wasn’t bittersweet enough,  Dermody has since announced that the band won’t be taking on any more shows in the near future. This shouldn’t be cause for too much concern, though. The band is as restless as their tracks, and it’s likely we’ll see Craig Dermody grace the stage of the Tote – his self-described living room – before too long.