words & photos by Sean Kirkwood @seankirkwoodphotography
“..a melting pot of equally talented musicians brewing the perfect on stage storm.”
The weather is Melbourne has been completely unreliable these past few days. Apocalyptic even. Torrential, sporadic rain. Flash flooding. Electrical storms one minute, extreme heat the next.
The one thing I knew I could rely on for the past week? The fact that Skyscraper Stan and The Commission Flats were going to provide one hell of a show,. I was right
I arrived at the Workers Club around 9, grabbed a beer and settled into a table in the courtyard to try and alleviate the unwanted hangover from the previous night before saddling up for the night to come.
I made my way into the band room around 10pm. Hot Sludge Fundae were already in full force, screaming almost intimidatingly at everyone in the room. It’s been a while since I’ve seen that amount of energy on stage and they had an amazing ability to make you feel like they’d singled you out, making sure everyone in the crowd was completely engaged, while still providing the energy of the previous day’s storm. A perfectly fitting way to start the night. 20 minutes in and I’d already sweated out my hangover.
11pm and the house music stopped abruptly. A towering Stan Woodhouse already on stage with The Commission flats loyally gathered around him. Stan Woodhouse is an absolute powerhouse on a musician. He’s eclectic, energetic and utterly unapologetic in his songwriting. He demands your attention effortlessly and maintains it throughout the entire show. Saturdays set list was perfectly sculpted with something for everyone.
As a songwriter, Stan has the ability to draw you in on long, whimsical stories, using his incredible vocabulary to paint words like fine art in front of your eyes before punching you in the face with some of the heaviest digressions a folk infused band can produce. There are seemingly no crowd favorites at this show. Each song is met with the same enthusiastic adoration and the night speeds by at a blistering pace. The entire room is completely captivated at all times.
The Commission Flats are, in my opinion, one of Melbourne’s best live bands and this current lineup is a beast! Oskar Herbig is a monster lead guitarist. Beautifully tasteful, digging in deep when he needs to and elevating the entire show to another level. Martin Schilov and Christopher Windley are completely on point as a rhythm section. They’re locked in and having the best looking time there. Monique Kerr and Briega Young take the reins on backing vocals and at all times are more like on stage dancers, synchronized and fierce, enticing the whole room to move with them. It’s a melting pot of equally talented musicians brewing the perfect on stage storm.
As the night draws to an end and Stan takes another shot, he announces they aren’t one of those bands who leave the stage only to come back and do an encore, so they’ll just keep playing.
Two more songs and the crowd is still utterly hungry for more.
Every time I see this band I walk out feeling lucky to have been a part of what I just saw. The energy and camaraderie displayed on stage is not something every band can achieve. They display a genuine love for each other, a deep respect. All while having what seems to be the best time of their lives.
If you haven’t had the chance to see Skyscraper Stan and The Commission flats, or Stan solo, do it the next chance you get. It baffles me that we’re still able to see this band for the price of a couple of pints. It won’t be that way for long. These guys are the real deal.