Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever stepped onto a San Francisco stage for the first time Aug. 28. Yet, with the band members’ striking confidence and energetic stage presence, you wouldn’t know that they were brand new to the city.
The band, often referred to as Rolling Blackouts C.F., hails from Melbourne, Australia, where it formed in 2013. Since then, the band has put out two EPs — Talk Tight in 2016 and The French Press in 2017 — before releasing its debut full-length album, Hope Downs, this past June. Now touring, Rolling Blackouts C.F. made its way to San Francisco’s The Independent and into the open arms of an excited fan base.
The audience, mostly people in their late 20s to early 30s, was full of energy and ready to start moving from the moment of the opening chord from the band’s first song of the night, “The Hammer.” “The Hammer” got off to a bit of a rough start, with technical issues distorting the vocals of singer Fran Keaney’s microphone. For the first half of the song, the instrumentals overpowered the muffled lyrics. The excited audience swayed to the music regardless, then cheered fervently when the sound was fixed.
Rolling Blackouts C.F. undoubtedly matched the energy and exuberance of the audience. The band members continuously bopped in unison to the upbeat tempos of their songs. The setlist included songs from the band’s new LP, as well as its older EPs, and flowed together seamlessly.
While the studio versions of the songs embody a laid-back indie rock vibe, the live versions sound like different songs entirely. Live, the music is not laid-back at all but rather high in energy and driven by a faster pace of instruments and vocals. The songs became something to dance and jump around to, and that’s exactly what the band and audience did. Each song of the set was welcomed by audience members who seemed to know every beat and lyric of every song, making for an animated atmosphere. “An Air Conditioned Man” garnered an especially loud applause. Without an introduction, the opening song of the band’s LP elicited a noticeable shift in the audience as the already lively crowd began to move and sway even more.
The band spoke very little in between songs, keeping stage banter to a minimum. However, the audience didn’t seem to mind, eager to hear the next song. Additionally, banter wasn’t needed to demonstrate the band’s chemistry — the five members remained in sync the entire time, moving to the rhythms together in a way that almost seemed choreographed yet wholly natural at the same time.
It announced its last song of the night and jumped into “Wide Eyes,” which wrapped up with a lengthened instrumental jam in which the band huddled and moved to each beat together. Looking as if the band members felt every note of the song to their cores, they were utterly alluring to watch.
Walking off the stage after “Wide Eyes,” it wasn’t long before they returned for an encore. In fact, the audience had barely started chanting for them to return before they were back in their spots.
“We owe you at least half a song for that first one — we’ll go a bit more and do a whole one,” Keaney proclaimed, referring to the technical issues of the first song.
In the end, the band played two more songs, much to the delight of the crowd. Finally as it finished with what the members referred to as “an old one,” from its first EP, “Heard You’re Moving,” the crowd seemed entirely content.
Rolling Blackouts C.F. put on a memorable and enthralling night. The band achieved what all bands hope to do with their live performances: It brought new life into its songs. The show wasn’t anything like listening to the studio version of the album but rather was its own experience entirely, one overflowing with energy and immense pleasure.
Contact Nikki Munoz at [email protected].