Written by Chris Langenberg

Last week I was lucky enough to find myself in Melbourne at the same time The Smith Street Band decided to put on a very special show in the small town of Forrest, Victoria. Determined not to miss the opportunity to see my favourite Australian band play an intimate gig in their home state I bought tickets for my girlfriend and I. Without thinking of travel arrangements or how far away The Wonky Donkey actually was from any known city. You might be asking, why Forrest? In 2014 The Smith Street Band recorded their latest record Throw Me In The River in the small country town with Jeff Rosenstock; hence the lineup and location.


After hitching a ride with a very kind stranger I discovered that most people going to the show planned on staying the night in the camping ground opposite The Wonky Donkey. Hearing this wasn’t such great news for someone who didn’t really know anyone in the state. Eventually, after preparing ourselves for a long, cold all-nighter, another kind local hero stepped up and offered up a spare room in his house.


We arrived at Forrest nice and early and got a chance to see The Smith Street Band sound checking on some new material. As people started arriving at the pub, excitement grew and before we knew it, Dan Potthast was unexpectedly opening the day. After the first set, we decided to go for a short walk to have a look at the town we would be spending the day in and somehow we ended up on a big hill overlooking a dam and the surrounding forest. 


Lake Elizabeth, Forrest, Victoria

We lost track of time and accidentally missed the first band set from Melbourne’s Worm, but we ran all the way back to The Wonky Donkey to see what Chris Farren describes as “The best band in the world”, Camp Cope.


The trio were really exciting to watch and it seems they have the capacity to soon be as successful as Smith Street or Courtney Barnett. The mixture of Georgia Maq’s (lead-singer) storyline lyrics and powerful voice had the audience in awe of their cleverly written songs. If you get the chance, I’d recommend attending a Camp Cope show before they are tearing up the world. If you don’t get the chance, I suppose you will have to wait until they are tearing up the world.


Next up was Melbourne’s favourite Soul Rock n Roll band, The Sugarcanes. Although it wasn’t my sort of thing, it is hard to not respect Lucy Wilson’s powerful voice and the tightness of the band.


Antarctico Vespucci then graced the beer garden stage. The band, containing three quarters of Jeff Rosenstock’s band, was super tight and great. Singer Chris Farren had the crowd singing along to choruses and his energy filled presence was enough to have everyone energised and ready for the last 3 acts again after an already long day.


The Hard Aches are a band I knew the name of but didn’t know too much about, though it seemed I was the only one not singing along to their punchy lyrics. The 2-piece had a great full sound and played a couple of new songs which had everyone very excited for the new EP that hopefully won’t take too long to finish.


Next, it was time for Jeff Rosenstock to play. I’m not sure how he had the energy to play a whole set after already playing in 2 other bands but he managed and it was nuts. Everyone had such a good time watching Jeff energetically jumping around the small stage.


Finally, The Smith Street Band were set to start and it seemed the whole town had eventually come out to watch the band. Wil started the set by explaining the reason that they were there, and then announced they would play Throw Me In The River from start to finish. Their set was much more special than a usual Smith Street show as it was an emotional homecoming for the band that spent a month in the small town of Forrest recording an album almost 2 years ago. 




Unfortunately my roll of film ran out before Jeff Rosenstock and The Smith Street Band but you can see the live gallery of the day below.