[LIVE REVIEW] Hands Like Houses & Ocean Grove @ Enmore Theatre, Sydney 09/02/2019

Making my way to the Enmore Theatre, all along Enmore Road I could see people in cafes, bars and restaurants, who looked like the crowd that would shortly make their way up to the iconic Sydney venue.

As I walked in the venue’s music stopped, the room darkened and out stepped Sydney’s own Redhook, their seven-song set kicked off the night and made it obvious as to why they’ve been added to the Download Festival line-up in the United Kingdom. Emmy Mack’s vocals punched through the room while the rest of the band matched her sound with their stage presence.

Endless Heights had an extensive soundcheck before their set but with good reason – they sounded fantastic! Not the type of band to ever stand still, their incredible energy had the crowd moving and singing along. Lead singer Matt Jones had a fall early on in the set but continued on even with blood running down his face saying, “some things are worth bleeding for.” With a good mixture of slow and fast paced songs and a lot of audience engagement, we farewelled the last of the Sydneysiders for the night.

The stage had already seen so much liveliness, but Melbourne’s Ocean Grove bring something of their own to the stage. All four members ran and jumped out on to the stage for the second night of this tour, the audience cheered and clapped as the band kicked off straight away. This is their first string of shows with ex-bass player turned lead singer, Dale Tanner, after the departure of Luke Holmes earlier in the year. The band welcomed the first crowd surfers of the night, with the pit opening up several times. All encouraged by the bands own movement around the stage, there was not a single person standing still on the floor and many of those in the stand above were on their feet too. All too soon, the band walked off stage with no warning and their set was over, with much of the crowd cheering but looking like they wanted more.

For the first time all night the room felt full, there was less space to move on the ground floor and people were making their way into the mosh pit for the night’s headliner. With lots of pre-emptive cheers coming from the audience, Hands Like Houses finally graced the stage with their big welcoming smiles. Beginning their set with the opening two songs from 2018 album Anon, was Kingdom Come and Monster. Monster featured Co2 and gold confetti shooting out in the crowd, followed by screams of excitement.

Drift was the third song played saw lead singer Trenton Woodley climb his way into the crowd, with fans surfing their way too him. Division Symbols and Tilt followed with the crowd really getting into it and dancing to the rhythmic beats and melodies of these two songs. Matt Cooper on lead guitar spent most of the night, upon a podium but flowed his way through the songs with ease. The intro to Introduced Species from 2013 album Unimagined, came through the speakers, a clear crowd favourite from the screams. Drummer, Matt Parkitny powered through and into heavier song Perspectives, another crowd favourite.

Announced next was Bad Dream, the song kicked off a surfboard was slowly fed into the crowd for bassist Joel Tyrrell to jump onto. Making his way into the wave of arms and back to the stage with band members watching on with anxious faces and some laughs, Tyrrell fell at least four times with a few near misses. The audience was pumped up after this incredible display of trust and Woodley announced, “let’s have a sing” and that’s what he got. With the crowd belting out the opening words to No Parallels as it began, and the floor really began to move.

Through Glass calmed the night down for a few minutes and everyone lifted up their phones with lights turned on. The verses had the audience singing along and the chorus everyone dancing around to what is possibly the poppy-est song in their discography. Following through with more new tunes – Overthinking and heavier song Sick – guitarist Alex Pearson was still all smiles, head banging his way through the songs, or singing along and smiling out to the crowd.  The mosh pit really got into it and continued on through New Romantics with more Co2 and if your feet were somehow on the floor, you could feel it moving!

Woodley spoke out to the crowd, “without you, this is just band practice” and continued by saying “you’ve done something good for live music today. In this city, in this state support live music!” said the Canberran native (continuing on from Emmy Mack’s earlier comments about the shutdown of Mountain Sounds Festival) before kicking into their last song for the evening I Am from 2016 album Dissonants, with another loud burst of Co2. As they left the stage we were hopeful for more, and our wait was short. Walking back out  Hands Like House were greeted to more cheering. Woodley announced “there’s this thing called noise restrictions, so we’re just gonna hurry up and play two more songs” before breaking into Colourblind. The screams from the crowd were louder than they’d been all night as the 2016 hit blasted through the speakers. Pearson and Tyrrell shared a few moments throughout the song, synchronized head bangs and a kiss on the forehead before the band began their last song for the evening. The beginning chords of Half-Hearted began before the drums commenced and the band danced and moved around the stage for the last 3 and a bit minutes of the night. There was one last huge blast of confetti and Co2 with the whole venue up and moving. The instruments quietened and Hands Like Houses waved, nodded and put their horns up in salute to say goodbye to their fans.

As a whole the stage of the Enmore Theatre held some incredible talent, loads of vitality, some funky dance moves and lots of smiles. With all Australian bands, the tour continues over the next few weeks to Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth before Hands Like Houses head off to South Africa and The United States.

Review & Gallery Contributed by Carleigh Ingram