[LIVE REVIEW] Moose Blood @ Arrow On Swanston, Melbourne 03/09/2018

I thought I had been to every music venue in Melbourne, but the Arrow on Swanston was new to me.  And a very weird place for a gig of any description, it is.  A friend’s big brother took us to a gig at Monash Uni when I was 15 and this place reminded me of that; part school multi-purpose room, part unused space at the bottom of an apartment building, which is pretty much what the Arrow is.  The only reason I knew I was at the right place was the presence of 2 guys in band t-shirts behind a table at the entrance.

I was caught by surprise by the early start so my most humble apologies to the opening act, Greyview for missing your set.  I will catch you another time, I promise.

Second up on this 4 band bill is Bukowski from Melbourne.  Described as “Pop Punk” and “Emo” by Triple J, these 4 guys gave us a set full of tuneful, boppy numbers.  Lead singer James Karagiozis, sings in what can only be described as a tuneful shout.  This is not a bad thing; it really works with their style of music.  These guys have been getting some good momentum and attention of late and their debut EP, grow up. give up. let go, released in June 2017, clocking up some respectable streaming numbers on Spotify (including myself in the last few days).  They are self-professed Moose Blood fans and were an awesome fit on a bill with these guys.

The breakdown and set up between Bukowski, and next on the bill, Hundredth, involved carting drums and guitars through the crowd and out a back door.  Very high school battle of the bands.  I’m so glad that these bands played the Corner the night before, and were not left with the impression that the Arrow is indicative of the standard of live venues in Melbourne.  And at least at the Corner you can get a pint!

Hundredth was another revelation to me.  From the opening chords, I was transported back to my first year in the UK and discovering Joy Division for the first time.  To me, their sound was very reminiscent of the Manchester sound of the early 80’s and a Smith’s cover during their set cemented this impression in my mind.  Lead singer, Chadwick Johnson has his mike on high reverb and the lyrics are unintelligible, but the atmosphere is heady, nostalgic and frigging awesome!  Despite these comparisons, Hundredth sounded fresh and exciting to me, although having been on the go since 2008, they cannot be necessarily described as new.  Existing on a diet of almost pure rock, I am really enjoying this sojourn into Indie mixed with a bit of jingly jangly post-punk pop.

I came across Moose Blood when researching the line up for the doomed 2016 Soundwave and had put them on my list of bands to catch.  But alas, it was not to be so I am wrapped that 2 ½  years later, I am getting the chance to see them.  They clearly have some Aussie support and during their set, there were many word perfect fans in the audience.

What four boys from Canterbury in the UK know about Moose, I can’t imagine.  The name may be confusing, but the music is not.  Simple, clean, melodic.  I almost want to call it pop that would be an insult.  But it’s just so damn catchy!

With 3 studio albums under their belt since their inception in 2012, they have a decent lot of songs to choose from.  They open with Honey from their second album, Blush.  This album was unarguably the one that propelled them into the mainstream achieving Top 10 in the UK and giving them spots on high profile festival stages in their home country.  Bukowski, a track from their debut album threw me a bit and I have since been educated (by the boys from Bukowski, thanks guys) as to the origins of this title.  Very highbrow!

Lead singer, Eddy Brewerton, has a very distinctive voice but little between song patter, with nothing more than a “thanks so much”, and the very polite, “Give it up for the bands that played before us, please.”  So British.  Songs from Blush, all with one word titles, form half of their 16 song set but I was disappointed that the ballad Cherry did not get a play.  One of my favourites.

With nowhere to go, there was no encore in their set but they ended strongly with Knuckles from Blush, finishing with It’s Too Much from their current album, I don’t think I can do this anymore, that they are spruiking on this tour.  I really hope the album title is not indicative of the way they are currently feeling about their career.  Moose Blood are musically tight, vocally unique and seemingly quite humble, an absolutely essential ingredient for success, in my opinion.  They managed to create an atmosphere in a room that had absolutely none and showed gratitude to their fans for coming out to see them.  As an overall gig experience, this show ranks highly for me (despite the shortcomings of the venue).  The lineup was awesome and I will follow the 3 bands I caught in the future with great interest.

Review Contributed by Wendy Smith

Gallery by Jose Sanchez