Dope Lemon: More sweet than sour with plenty of bite

When you catch word of a new band fronted by Angus Stone you may ponder; is it duo-driven, smooth, pensive folk music? Is it a more upbeat Australian indie rock solo project? Or is it sonically adventurous psych-folk with a twist of dark brooding synths and 90’s grunge grooves?

Dope Lemon’s unique and heart-warming aura presented on their debut album Honey Bones was packed up and brought to the Astor Theatre where it was unleashed in a thick cloud of bright, dazzling guitars and melancholy storytelling passages.

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The Money War @ Astor Theatre | Photos by Chris Kerr

 

Opening the night was a beautifully crafted set by Perth locals The Money War. On show was a culmination of steady rock vibes with smooth harmonies running throughout, complimenting the keys and guitar motifs. The band’s lyrical anecdotes cut through the crowd, instantly drawing them in and setting the tone for the night.

As the house lights faded and the band made their appearance, Angus and company opened the set with a song from Angus’ solo repertoire; a puzzling move considering the musical dissimilarity between the two projects. Nonetheless it was appreciated by the fans, many of them singing along to the chorus, grateful for this blast from the past.

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Dope Lemon @ Astor Theatre | Chris Kerr

 

The early segment of the set smoothly blended slow, smooth grunge that set a fresh new pace with lulling guitars and driving drums evocative of The War on Drugs. “Coyote” prompted Angus to reveal a gorgeous 12-string electric guitar whose dissonant riffs could alas hardly be heard in the mix. This was soon forgotten however in a plethora of howling and whistling that ornamented the song, adding edge and eeriness to the vibe. A thick fog smothered in red light descended on the stage as the next number offered arpeggiated keys over reverbed guitars and hefty, droning bass note pedal. Angus addressed the room after the last chord rung out, and in his laid-back tone embraced the crowd.

Then came on of the band’s latest singles, “Marinade”. One of the more lacklustre songs of the night saw the keys player twiddling his thumbs and listening to an overly repetitive groove and almost feather-touch drums. However, Angus’ spoken word lyrics came out loud and clear, spinning a tale for all to hear.

The mid set offered some huge hairy guitar intros and toe-tapping brit-rock beats reminiscent of ’07 Kings of Leon. The crowd was then treated to the outfit’s breakout single “Uptown Folks”, a highlight of the set with it’s big singalong chorus and epic breakdown into an Editors/Pink Floyd style guitar solo.

The finale of the night consisted of Angus introducing the band and then launching them into a mysterious psych rock vibe where Angus produced a sitar-like sound out of his guitar and the drummer absolutely belted his kit as if he had been aching to do it all night.

Dope Lemon led the crowd through a set of pieces which grew in intensity to almost overflowing heights. This is a new brand of psychedelic folk that tells its stories through its twisted guitars and engaging lyrics; surely one to look out for.

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