Prove your humanity

The dream rock drumbeat of their latest You’ve Come Round ebbed into a distinct piano interlude familiar to all Wooly fans—the song that started it all, Running Circles. Coming home, Andrew Eyres, Christian Zappia, Jon Stapleton and Josh Wright returned to their old stomping ground, this time taking to the Rosemount’s mainstage.

From humble beginnings, jamming in a Bassendean basement and debuting on the neighbouring stage at 459 Bar, the growth from their first show to their last was not only apparent by the (slight) stage upgrade, but in the fans that packed the room to the rafters, radiating good vibes.

I was feeling particularly sentimental about tonight having served coffee, food and good vibes with Jon when Wooly was in its infancy. I had the treat of tuning into the frontman experimenting with vocal arrangements on the regular—harmonising with the crunch of the coffee grind and the whisper of the steam wand as he perfected Steve’s long black, hot milk on the side. It was hard to believe that like ground espresso beans poured into a soul-warming cup-a-joe, the boys had poured the essence of Wooly into song, filling fans’ cups one final time.

Their music and the message held in each song may have evolved and become more profound over time, but the guys never failed to deliver a bloody good time—the very core of what this beloved group is. Opening with one off their 2018 release Fell, Took Flight the crowd bopped to the jazzy bass line of Seeds.

The real beauty of what the band has created over its three years is the Wooly family—a melting pot of fellow musicians, friends, family, a fifth band member, and of course eighteen-year old groupies (as is mandatory for any modern-day dream rock band). A rarity in many bands’ crowds, however, are the grandies—but they were here tonight, the sprinkling of greying heads in the crowd holding hands tenderly—elevated like teenagers, by the melody of the Temper trap-esque Slowing at Sunrise.

Quality banter runs rampant for these guys, and boy it was rife tonight—from concertgoers and the band. Voted best looking (by the band), the ever-modest bassist Andrew Eyres made his first and last vocal solo on the newest track, met with a choral chant from punters “Eyresy, Eyresey, Eyresy,” reminiscent of Fyfe footy fans on Derby Day.

Commenting on the turnout, Stapleton egged the crowd on with what a great ploy it had been to not only leak their latest release but also to announce a final show to manifest a crowd.

“No, unfortunately, that’s not the case,” he said.

“This is our last show, so there are a few people I’d like to thank…”

As he launched into a spiel listing everyone who had touched the Wooly Mammoth family over the three years, Zappia interjected with a cheeky “and many, many more but we can’t name you all.”

Gratitude aside, the story of discovering drummer Josh Wright was spun to the audience.

“After Daniel Lucanus went off to become a lawyer in Melbourne we were left without a drummer,” Stapleton said.

“We searched high and low for the best drummer at WAAPA, and we found him,” he said pausing, awaiting the raucous cheer of the crowd.

“Unfortunately, he wasn’t available, so we got Josh.”

Taking it back to their roots, the swinging strum of the acoustic guitar in Made to Fall had some dancing in each other’s arms, and others belting out the words of love’s vulnerable free fall, and the pain, angst and resistance that goes with the dying embers of a fiery passion.

An end of an era, but the air of possibility was palpable in the room. An encore of Catcher in the Rye and the cheeky adolescent energy of Edge paid tribute to the original Wooly Mammoth tracks. Memories materialised, like watching a retro slide projector. Click—J Stap on the pipes humming melodies and serving up liquid goodness to keen coffee drinkers. Click—a cramped show at the Henhouse introducing a friend’s earbuds to the boys’ unique sound.  Click—a balmy night at The Bird and the beginning of something new. Click—the beginning of the 2019 New Year with a great bunch at Scarborough’s Indi Bar. Click—Wooly Mammoth’s final minutes on stage, cheeky side smiles, swigging wine, embracing centre stage as finality sinks in.