– by Maggie Bochat
Tom Iansek isn’t a diva or a (real) dad. One half of indie pop duo Big Scary, the multitalented muso is killing it in his solo project – #1 Dads.
Playing live at the Rosemount on a cold Saturday night was a crowd of black boots and big jackets, eager to see the Melbournian in action.
Sound check took 15 minutes. Not that that’s a bad thing – it was worth it. The first notes played and sounded just like the recordings, the ones everyone in the audience had listened to over and over again. A soundtrack to life or to a lazy afternoon, to a night spent alone with your thoughts or in the car you always drive to somewhere you always go. The sound of #1 Dads; as easy to listen to live as it is pressing play.
Prior to the gig I looped the back catalogue, unfamiliar with the sound. I tried hard to concentrate, to pinpoint the genre and mood and style and category. To define #1 Dads. But I couldn’t. Instead I kept daydreaming. Daydreaming of nowhere and everywhere. Of places I’ve been and things I dream to do. Not really sticking with my thoughts, just floating through and feeling a sense of innate calmness.
That feeling of calm translates to Iansek. As chill as a sloth, he never rushed through the songs, in fact he barely moved, except to change guitar or piano or welcome a special guest to the stage. The most down to earth performer I’ve ever witnessed, #1 Dads is solely about music – not image. It’s refreshing to see.
Iansek chatted to us like old friends between each serving of dreamy golden pop. “We thought we’d be busking on barrack street.” he laughed, “We didn’t think we’d sell enough tickets to fill this gig”. A sold out show and a second one the following night, #1 Dads’ success is not surprising.
The bass is smooth and creamy with vocals equal parts haunting as they are comforting. Each song has a story, and he tells you it, like the one about his sister who crossed to world and fell in love and came back with a broken heart.
Happy to share the stage, special guests Tom Snowdon (of band Lowlakes) and Ainslie Wills brought the songs to life. Snowdon’s voice is like a futuristic spaceman’s, haunting and beautiful. “Return To” is a piano ballad you won’t forget, and it silenced the whole audience. Wills helped deliver some upbeat, semi-folk, indie rock. Time to dance. A saxophone came out and we were grooving, between stories and laughter and songs that make you want to cry and give someone a hug.
Everyone jumped onstage for the final song; I’m gonna play a cover for you guys now. The crowd was freaking excited, and so was I. My favorite Like A Version on 2015, FKA Twigs “Two Weeks” was layered and lifted by the band in the studio. Played live was out of this world. The perfect end to a show of music to savor – not wanting to miss a moment of pure brilliance, because that’s all it was.
The #1 Dads show is like hanging out with your dad when he tells you stories of your childhood and his, making you laugh and think, and then buys you your favorite ice cream. You won’t forget the sound or lyrics, but you might just forget that “We’re not actually parents. Just thought we’d clear that up.” Best (non) Dad Ever.
Photo Credit: David Cox