Before you read any further – let’s get into a little background of Dirty Panda!!
Dirty Panda have only been together for five or so months, so very new in terms of band cohesion. Canberra based, they were a five piece but one of the original members decided to move in a different direction and so there were four ; Georgia (Rhythm Guitar, Vocals), Ned (Lead Guitar, Vocals), Judd (Bass Guitar) and Ollie (Drums).
I had previously had an invitation to meet the band at one of their rehearsals at Vertex Studio’s in Canberra. I came away thinking…wow…what a great fun loving bunch!! Knowing from this meeting that they had their very first gig coming up I couldn’t help but attend and give them some support.
The gig itself…well I wouldn’t have called it an easy task – they were to cover Garbage at a 90’s Music Festival held at The Basement in Canberra and they’d be sharing the billing with 9 other bands some of whom were very very proficient at their craft. I surmised this would be a nerve racking debut for them.
The night in question arrived and there was quite a crowd in line at the door. I was a little tardy tonight, I didn’t miss any of the set but I did have to squeeze my way through the punters to get to a position for pictures and viewing. To describe the area as being a room full of sardines would have been an understatement in this case.
I had just found my vantage point with just enough time to settle as Georgia wasted no time in smashing out the first track. Georgia is not a newbie to performing and I’ve seen her in other outfits and tonight was to be no different.
As lead singer she did just that – lead!! She used the whole of the open space onstage and the crowd were enthralled as she performed running her way easily through the technicalities of the songs and bringing her own adaptation through mid range and high range vocals with a sometimes soft growling kick at the beginning or end of a phrase.
Ollie and Judd locked in really well from the onset and looked to Georgia for their cues in keeping the flow going. Georgia on rhythm guitar provided great pulse and harmony to the tracks. Ned also showing promise on the lead guitar with leading melody lines, instrumental fill ins and occasionally some riffs.
Dirty Panda made their way through a set list that was either going to make them or break them – Only Happy When It Rains, Not My Idea, Cherry Lips, Vow, Super Vixen, Stoopid Girl, Paranoid, When I grow Up and Girl Don’t Come.
I did say this wasn’t going to be an easy task…so how did they do? Well I’m pretty sure Georgia channeled a direct line to Shirley Manson (Garbage Lead Singer) for the night and that was evident by the way the crowd of punters reacted to her and in unison with her throughout the set.
Ollie…he hit his sweet spot and visually he seemed to find his groove looking quite relaxed and in charge behind the skins. In conjunction and working well with Ollie, Judd provided some dark and heavy base lines with ease although was a little off stage and out of the limelight most possibly due to nerves.
Ned’s nerves were evident but let’s cut the guy a break!! First gig, had to move to lead guitar when other member left, had just arrived home from Florida work commitments at lunchtime the day of the gig…let’s cut him a big break!! Mind you, for someone not accustomed to playing lead and only having a short time to master it he did an awesome job and held his part up..so kudos to you Ned!
The punters were in awe of Dirty Panda. They sang, they danced, they whistled AND they called out for more at the end and that’s what it’s really about…sharing your music and being appreciated and there was no lack of that in any form tonight.
It’s my understanding that a couple of the Dirty Panda band members write songs…I’m hoping they will take hold of their originals and bring them to us to enjoy in the near future…but for now, they can take credit for doing justice to the sounds of Garbage and for providing an epic opening debut set for the night!