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GIG REVIEW + GALLERY: Kristofer Dommin and The Oztones @ Lefty’s Music Hall – 28/04/2022

By May 1, 2022June 18th, 2024No Comments

Words Kate Lockyer {Kate Lockyer Music}

All Photos by Tam Schilling {Tamcam Images // @tamcamimages_}

*** Please always credit our photographers when sharing their work on social media – do not edit their images, and ask permission first before using their images for any other purposes. ***

On Thursday night Kristofer Dommin and The Oztones kicked off the first of their album release shows at Lefty’s Music Hall. The self-titled album was released Friday 29/04, and they played another bangin’ show on Saturday night to introduce everyone to their new tunes. The band is branded as alternative Americana, with rootsy and swinging rockabilly energy. Dommin, the frontman, is from America, and no doubt relished the rockstar swagger of being able to say he was flying back to LA in a few days. The line-up featured Kristofer Dommin on vocals, alongside Brisbane band The Oztones, which is made up of Danny Lowrie on guitar, Jot Garrott on drums, and Dale Berends on upright bass.

The first song was clearly chosen to show off their powerful performance as a band, with crashing drums, booming guitar, and some fine work on the double bass and electric. Dommin’s vocals strike us all with the first note, and they even get one member of the audience up and dancing by the second verse, all the way through his entreaties of “Can I sit next to you girl?”

The next song was New. A catchy strummed electric riff starts, and the band matches the energy of the first song. A moody, wavering voice cuts through, and the chorus is filled by a gutsy belt from Dommin, I want somebody, someone new”.

You and I is slower paced than the first two, a bit more of a tender croon from Dommin. A very American ballad about the new world, exploring a love and themselves – “let’s live the way we want”. Features a killer, meandering solo on the lead guitar.

Their fourth song is an Americana anthem from the king himself as the band demands A Little Less Conversation (and a little more action). The crowd complies, a dancefloor forming immediately as people recognise the tune and begin to tap their feet. This song is clearly where they sit comfortably, and their familiarity and mastery of this kind of tune creates a suave ease in their performance.

I Don’t Care begins with a quiet plucking on the guitar, and some low sung lyrics from Dommin. This tune was heavy with tenderness. The rest of the band builds up in the chorus with an insistent, catchy riff from the lead, a deep and dark rhythm from the bass, and a steady beat on the drums. The chorus’ highlight is the soaring note Dommin hits on “care”, showing off his powerful range.

The next song was the standout for the night – The Train. Dommin introduced it by saying “it’s fun to watch these guys playing this song because it makes them sweat”. I didn’t know what to expect from this comment, but as soon as they started playing, I understood. They begin to strum, pluck and beat at a frenetic pace, and the vocalist channels all the Johnny Cash there is to tell his tale. You couldn’t really make an Americana rockabilly album without a song about a train, could you? The “whoah”, emulating a train screaming along the tracks, perhaps, echoes out through the hall, and it strikes me that Lefty’s couldn’t be a better setting for this genre, with its old world stylings, whiskey apples, and mounted antlers. A fantastic upright bass solo ensues, and the drummer joins in with the high hats, and all the while that insane strumming keeps building to a final chorus. I should mention that not only do these fellows channel Johnny Cash in the spirit of their music, but they certainly love his sartorial style too – dressed all in black, and Dommin with his coiffed hair giving off dark Western vibes.

Come As You Are, rockabilly style. They pull it off in their unique way, Dommin putting his at times grungy tone to use in this song. Can’t say the original will ever be displaced as my favourite but their version was definitely impressive. I’d just like to add that the last time I saw this song played live was also at Lefty’s, by the acoustic magician Daniel Champagne… check him out if you like ridiculously intricate fingerpicking and songs about wanderlust.

But back to KD and The Oztones. Their track Ain’t Right was released in 2020, just after they began this collaborative project, a wailing, bone-rattling song that makes you feel indignant for this fellow being treated wrong. Dommin’s voice in this song has a crackling edge to it. The classic ‘bom bom bom’ with that twang from the electric just adds to the atmosphere and a “yahoo!” rings out from somewhere from the audience. The One features a bouncy riff that soars through the whole song, transforming and amping up, and a big belt from Dommin.

The second set begins with that good ol’ 12 bar blues for Tonight, and by the middle of the song the fellas are bent over playing their guitars with all the force and energy they can muster, but leaving room for some dramatic pauses. The melody of the guitar crunches along with clanging cymbal crashes, then everything is brought down to a simmer, while the guitar slowly builds again. Meanwhile, everyone is jiving along on the dancefloor, their shoes and spirits plentifully lubricated for the dancefloor with drinks.

Let’s Do This Thing is slower, more intense. There is attitude in this tune, a determination and drive. You can hear why this is the first track on their new album. Chasing Yesterday has an almost reggae-style sycopated guitar riff, but of course with that drive and twang of americana. It’s a far lighter song than their others and features what I would describe as a tingly drum finish.

The next song was a cover of Personal Jesus by 80’s band Depeche Mode. Being a 2000’s baby I had to admit to not knowing it, but the rest of the room certainly lit up with recognition and thoroughly enjoyed their take, the drums and lead guitar standing out in this one.

The rest of the night featured some more covers, like Wicked Game, where Dommin was Chris Isaak incarnate, and Psycho Killer, which had one audience member stamping a line dance along the floor… definitely seemed like his own, alcohol-infused choreography if you know what I mean, but was a testament to the energy the band was putting into the show. They also played some more catchy, soulful originals, like No Destination and Love Doesn’t Come Without Chains. The last original tune I heard before jetting off was Shake, which they introduced as “surf rock”. It started off with a bang and then was pared down to just the guitar. As the song progressed the music got heavier and more insistent, with a catchy “shake shake shake, baby come on” that was very Elvis in clambake.

If you missed the album launch shows and you want some talented rockabilly musicians to liven up your weekend and get you dancing, follow them on socials and get to their next live show! The album is now available to purchase via CD and can be streamed as well.

To follow Kristofer Dommin and The Oztones click HERE

With thanks to HJHM Artist Management

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