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[Review] Bring Me The Horizon @ Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne 18/04/2024

Walking up to Rod Laver Arena on a freezing cold Thursday night, I had to double check my tickets.

“Rod Laver Arena? Surely, they aren’t selling out a venue that big?” I whispered to myself as I triple checked the venue.

They, are Bring Me The Horizon. I remember them as one of the many sculptors of my mid-teens. My memories are me sitting on the bus, sullen because all my friends went to Sydney to see them. I probably gave myself tinnitus on that bus ride. Or sitting in woodwork and a group of girls I desperately wanted to be friends with told me to, “Go and talk to Jess, she likes that emo shit too.” And becoming her partner in home-ec that year. Bring Me The Horizon were an intimate band for me, the cause of friendships falling apart and coming together. They weren’t an arena rock band. They were mine, they were for the kids like me. But, clearly, they were ours. And we were all here tonight.

A swarm of platform black boots, fishnets and black lipstick pour passed me, as the hyper pop anthems of Daine pierce the freezing air. I love Daine. They were one of the artists who defined lockdown bonfires with my housemates for me. Tonight is a night dedicated to making the best out of a bad situation, clearly. SALT, I want the light to swallow me whole and a far-too short list of songs later, the set is finished. I can feel the applause from outside. Daine is an absolute machine, the powerhouse to end all powerhouses.

I finally manage to make my way inside, shoulder to shoulder with the coolest people I’ve ever seen. I love ex-emo kids. I’m now much more of a corduroy-and-American-Traditional-tattoo emo enthusiast, but here I am with the upper echelon of emo kid. And I’m thrilled. As I take my seat, the lights dim again and Make Them Suffer takes to the stage. Going from goth-rock meets hyper pop to Australian metalcore might seem strange, but this crowd is absolutely on board for the weirdness. I watch as a half-filled GA area throws themselves against each other, the smacks of their arms audible from my seat. Opening with Ghost of Me and winding up seven songs later, I wish the Perth band had stayed on earlier, but tonight is about celebrating lots of bands, and so they make their way offstage after a thunderous finish with Doomswitch.

Now, my relationship with Sleep Token, is a little bit…. Strange. The London progressive-metal band are famous for making a TikTok edit song for a hot video game vampire. I didn’t know it was a Sleep Token track, until I was sitting down and as The Summoning started playing, I was surrounded by videos of this pale hottie. Certainly, one for the ol’ bucket list.

Sleep Token have this awesome stage presence. White masks with red and black paint splatters cover the faces of the entire group, their anonymity is their power. The crowd is almost possessed with the slow, melodic drops and the ultra-high screaming peaks. The band plays in a way that makes them seem blank-faced, but their musicianship is evocative, powerful and an absolute feast for the senses. The red lights spray into the crowd as our screams mix with theirs. An outstanding final opening act for the absolute chaos I was about to experience with Bring Me The Horizon.

Bring Me The Horizon are mythic. Formed in 2004 in Sheffield, they’ve released 8 albums and have sold over 5 million records. They sold out 3 shows in Melbourne alone, on this Australian tour. To say they’re popular, would be an understatement. They’re revolutionary. And my God, do they know it.

The show opens with Eve, an AI woman doing “audience analysis” on us. The screens of the arena are filled with her uncanny face movements as she asks us to scream in excitement, only to be met with; “Performance analysis: Weak as fuck”. The antsy crowd on the floor takes that as a challenge, and immediately open up a Circle Pit. Before the band’s even come on. It’s insanity.

Then, the backdrops project the walls and windows of a church, with beautiful sunlight streaming through. The British 4-piece come onstage, taking their own pillars, except front man Oli Sykes, who is on the lowest level in a velvet top and these amazing loafers. All of the band take to their human-spine mic-stands and let it rip for the next nearly 2 hours. “Bang your fucking heads, pussies!” Sykes screams into the crowd as he lets out a vocal-chord tearing scream and his guitarists jump what feels like 20-feet into the air.

I am completely swept up into the story they’re telling. Project angeldust has gone awry, Eve’s systems are corrupted and her fanatic cultists are dying. Project angeldust arrives, and the church windows aren’t filled with snow or rain or sun anymore, they’re torn down by a body-horror baby with wings, and everyone loses it. Matt Nichols on drums is an absolute mad-man, he is incredible. Every song, he’s making the beat and then outperforming himself as the song goes on, legendary. All of the musicians are killing it, they’re note-perfect, and even better than I can describe.

There’s fire, sparklers, smoke, lights – it’s a feast.

As the circle pit continues, and the crowd keeps splitting itself into walls of death, Sykes smirks that smirk we all know, “You guys are fucking mad for it! But can you jump?” And yes they can. He insults us, he lifts us up – anything he barks at us, with that killer smile, we are all too eager to oblige.

At first, I thought he was kidding with the repeated; “I’m a little bit poorly, seeing double. Hot sweats, cold sweats.” Because we launched into Kingslayer, and he smiled up at us before spitting into the mic, “1-2-fuck you!” and let out another spine crunching scream. God, he’s good. But he did need to take a 3 minute break in the middle to get himself feeling better. Even being clearly very unwell, he was the frontman to end all frontmen. Like so spellbinding, his skill is unmatched, his synergy with the band was like nothing I’ve ever seen before. As he returns from break he’s smiling again, “Fuck me you guys are fucking mental!” And we are, it’s true, I’ve never seen anything quite like it. What he considered a 4/10, was most concerts 11/10, and we just kept going. “Peng crowd!” His band coos in agreement to eachother.

Pulling up Sam, a random audience member in a bucket hat, and laden with the most Australian accent ever, was so genius. Performing Antivist together, Sam was throwing in improv lines, screaming and barking orders at us. “Pull the finger out of your fucking asses! Make a wall of death! Let’s go, let’s go!” And we are all too happy to oblige. Sykes grins at his newest prodigee, and they absolutely crush their unplanned duet.

Parasite Eve is, of course, spellbinding. Rave lights illuminate the arena. Spectacular rays of green and yellow and white. Sykes’ voice is unbelievable. His screams are… Better than recorded. His vocal control is criminally underrated, it’s fucking awesome. As their platinum hit rides to a close, the stage turns red, rose petals fall. Sykes lies on the ground. “I have a question, can you… can you…. Can You Feel My Heart?” He jumps to his feet, clearly ready to punch out this last number with everything he has “If you don’t jump to this song, you are a certified dickhead!” And they go into Can You Feel My Heart. A studded sacred heart lights them from behind, the arena is bathed in light, and I am 14 again, in home-ec, on the back of the bus. I feel like I could burst.

The encore goes off without a hit, and I am still lost in nostalgia. Please, treat your inner-teen. I promise they’re desperate to scream along with Bring Me The Horizon and leave arm in arm with other cry-laughing adults as we go from being swallowed by Sykes poetic screams, to being swallowed by the Melbourne cold.

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[Review] Simple Plan @ John Cain Arena, Melbourne 11/04/2024

The year is 2013. You’ve just started at a new school in some satellite city, and you’re waiting at the bus stop. The bus is 15 minutes late. Before you can grumble about being late on the first day, your headphones light up with Simple Plan. The heavy pop-punk guitar rips through your teenage angst and you tap your foot slightly. Suddenly, time has passed and you’re on the bus. We The Kings serenade you as you step onto school ground and run for class. Boys Like Girls give you the speed and agility you need to step around the two other students and make it to the top of the stairs in time.

Thursday night was just like that. Except instead of being me in year 8, it was me at 24 outside Melbourne’s John Cain Arena, waiting with a sea of others with that same experience for our tickets. This was maybe the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen at the iconic Melbourne venue. The vocals of American Idol winner, Jax, keep us bouncing and excitedly calling over friends while we wait for entry.

Eventually, I make my way inside, and get the most spectacular seats. I settle down to watch the end of We The Kings’ set. The 6-piece are giving it their absolute all in a disappointingly short setlist. I was aching to see more of them and was so sad to see them go after only about 8 songs. Pounding drums, I can feel in my feet, amazing acoustic and electric guitar work blending together seamlessly to take me back to those earlier days. We The Kings sound just good live as they do on the album, and maybe, better. The audience is screaming and clapping and dancing, and it gives the music such depth, recordings just can’t capture. One thing about the crowd; we love We The Kings. Every song’s conclusion is met with ferocious cheers and begs for more. It was honestly hard for me to take notes because I was so enraptured by the Florida band.

Before I know it, we are at the final number. Check Yes Juliet is more than a hit, it’s iconic. It’s generation defining. It’s brain chemistry changing. Ask anyone born between 1994 and 2000, and we can sing this goddamn song. It really is anthemic. And boy do We The Kings know it. After absolutely shredding their way through it, with incredible bass work, guitar strumming to rival some of The Greats and a beautiful comradery – they turn the mic to us and ask us to sing, completely acapella. And we do. The stadium is full of voices, all screaming the chorus at the top of our lungs. At moments, you can tell Travis Clerk wants to take the microphone back but doesn’t. We are just too lost in the song, in the moment and in nostalgia.

We The Kings leaves the stage, leaving us hungry for more, and telling the world “Now that’s how you open!”

Third cab off the rank was Boys Like Girls, the band I knew the least out of the lineup – or so I thought. As soon as Love Drunk started playing, a part of me woke up and I realised I knew this band. I knew these songs. And so did everyone else. The screen behind the foursome played a mix of music video clips, lyrics and animations which reflected off the guys’ all-leather fits. They were clearly going for a modern-twist on 1980’s glam-rock and it weirdly worked. “The name? Boys Like Girls. The Place? Boston Masechussets, USA, The World, The Milky Way, The Motherfucking Universe!!!” Front man, Martin Johnson yowls into the microphone.

BLOOD AND SUGAR goes down an absolute treat, the boys needing a cigarette after it’s finale. “The secret to rock ‘n’ roll, is to keep smoking cigarettes. It keeps you nice and young!” After a set full of flicked guitar picks, thrown drumsticks and impassioned rants, it starts to come to a close. We wish their touring guitarist a very happy birthday, before being taken into a remix of Love Drunk, yet again, to close us out. And wow, what a fantastically, high-energy set from the boys from Boston. “Ah Australia. The weed. The sunshine. The magpies. We love ya!” and we love you too, Boys Like Girls.

And now, the finale. Simple Plan look like a group of Canadian talk show hosts but play like absolute rock superstars. With six studio albums, a theme song and over 25 years together – they are an absolute musical unit. Given this history, it’s unsurprising this set was impossible to capture in the number of words I have.

“Are you ready to party with Simple Plan? This next song’s called Jump, so what’re you gonna do?” From their second song onwards, it’s a blur for me. Partially because of the intense strobes, but mostly because of the energy in that room. Jumping up and around onstage, soaking it up, and looking like the cool uncles you see once a year – their energy is just perfection.

This set is long, and it’s a mix of new and old originals to keep fans of every era full to the absolute brim. It’s also full of covers, delivered with Simple Plan skill, spunk, and wit. The mashup between All Star / Sk8erBoi and Mr Brightside, changed me a little bit. Let Go, by Avril Lavigne was the first album I bought with my own money, I think I screamed so loud my vocal cords ripped.

But I will never scream as loud at any show the way I screamed at What’s New, Scooby Doo? The theme song that changed me. The ripping guitars, driving drums and rhythmic bass did not disappoint, and I was thrown into a frenzy of voices, claps and elated laughs. The girls behind me were giddily shouting “They played it! They really played it!” after it ended. Needless to say, it brought the sold-out house down. For Iconic, they brought out first-support Jax. Her vocals are just incredible. Vanilla-y and sweet, with an edge that is difficult to capture, but is complimented perfectly by an electric guitar – it was a duet to never be forgotten.

Normally, I hate encores. But I could not wait for Simple Plan’s return. I’m Just A Kid, was, unsurprisingly, a smash hit. I love this fucking song, man. And I’m not alone. This Song Saved My Life made me appreciate these guys as musicians, and what they did for two generations of teenagers. I saw parents with kids swaying and singing together. Young couples. Older people with shaved heads – everyone was completely caught-up in Simple Plan’s simple, breathtaking charisma. Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again, genuinely made me cry a little. I’m glad they cut it at verse 2, or I would’ve been a mess. I hope I see Simple Plan’s faces again. Because nothing can quite compare to the Montreal Band’s musicianship, charm and command.

I left the arena feeling warm and golden. My ears were aching for more and I could still feel the claps of happy hands in my feet. Next time they’re down under, get to it. I promise, you won’t be disappointed – and neither will that kid inside you, who’s waiting for a late bus at the bus-stop.

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[Review] Australian Open Finals Festival, John Cain Arena, Melbourne 28/01/2024

While Sunday’s sweltering heat may have deterred some, it certainly didn’t put a damper on spirits at the final day of the Australian Open’s dynamic music event, Finals Festival. Three full days of local music, international stars, and DJ sets – guaranteed to leave your head moving and your feet tapping at this sporty-summer-ending-bash. This is going to be an electrifying finish to the Australian Open festivities.

As soon as I step through the gates of the Australian Open, I am met with an immediate wave of music. A trio of guys armed with a trumpet, saxophone and trombone are tearing through a rendition of Mambo No. 5. As tennis skirts, white visors and wedge heels move past me; I really start to drink it all in. Walking through this Mecca To Sport, I pass tall green muscled men on stilts, more free sunscreen samples than I can carry, and a really convincing Mike Posner cover act. Jamming out to Cooler Than Me, I find the entrance to John Cain Arena and the open-air spectacular that is Finals Festival.

Before I go inside and join the swarms of people inside a de-roofed John Cain, I lounge on the grass listening to the electro-pop tunes of Latifa Tee. A triple j radio host and DJ, she is a summer day with friends and strangers. An exclusive, new remix of Cupid is the perfect pairing with a cold drink, hot chips and prescription sunglasses to people watch. Latifa is so beautiful, completely smooth and in her element onstage. The heat seems to roll off her and she stays upbeat, hair curls perfect and unbothered as she works her magic on the decks.

Next up to the literal hot seat, is Melbourne’s own, Sunshine & Disco Faith Choir. They self-describe themselves as: A true ode to dancefloor salvation, Sunshine and Disco Faith Choir serve to share the gospel of disco faith with those whose enthusiasm lives in the hands of the music. These genre-benders feel almost too cerebral for so early in the day, but regardless I am completely enamoured by them. A disco lover to my very core; this is music for anyone who loves Nu-Disco, Fleetwood Mac, and an unbridled feminine ecstasy. This is a huge group. I’m talking, 12-piece choir big. From the opening minute of Welcome to the Dancefloor, one of the biggest earworms of the last 5 years, I knew these guys were going to be a grand slam. The sounds washing over the crowd are just incredible. There are moments that feel identical to a musical sermon. 10,000 people all holding their breath as Dreams floats over us, until an EDM beat rises inconspicuously into airspace. Then it’s a mess of swishing hair, rolling wrists and fan-flapping. Sunshine is dressed in these long flowing sleeves, with lace and feathers and a hat – of course. They are aesthetically and musically a marvel, and if they were taking on groupies – I’d have found my calling.

British drum and bass heavyweights Rudimental are the penultimate act at the Australian Open on this fine day. Festival staples, the three-piece are playing to a revved up crowd. 10,000 of us fight for the half of the arena that has shade. My years of training (going to emo and hardcore shows) have meant I have a great spot with view of the stage. While Rudimental are known for some Rhythm and Blues softness, today it’s time for daylight depravity. An extra heavy version of 2024 release Alibi is a highlight for me. The screens behind the stage are bright yellow, and red and pulsating. Smoke billows out onto the crowd and lights shine down onto us as we let loose into the sound. We are truly dancing the day away. As quick as they start, they’re off. They’ve even curated a great section of ‘hold music’ – including an EDM remix of 1965 The Temptations hit, My Girl. An entire crowd is screaming along to the words; My girl! / My giiirl for at least 3 minutes. And it’s beautiful. There is such a lively, upbeat and energetic vibe in John Cain this Grand Final.

Groove Armada come on and the arena is suddenly packed to the brim. So, I stand off to the side and watch Andy Cato and Tom Findlay run through a super high-energy DJ set. The two have such a great comradery with each other. They smile as though they’re making a joke none of us are in on. And to be honest? They could be laughing at us. We don’t care. As long as they keep the beats going. Personal favourite, reggae/ska infused electronica banger, Superstylin’ is one of the first cabs off the rank. Even though it’s still so sunny outside, it suddenly feels like night-time. Bright lights flash and I can feel the bass in my fingers. My bones are shaking with every rhythm change and beat drop. It’s awesome. There is something late-night about Groove Armada. They feel timeless, placeless – like if oblivion was a new club that we were all dying to be on the waitlist for. They’re effortlessly cool, low-stakes and perfect for grooving. You could not ask for a better closing act.

This was a day of sweat, icy drinks and teeth chattering levels of bass. An electric finish is putting it mildly. This was a trip through so many genres, people, drinks, laughs, songs, sets – I’m sad to have landed back on the tarmac. I still haven’t undone my seatbelt though, I’ll be here, hoping for one more lap around the court, just to get a fraction of those vibes again.

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[Review] Lord Huron @ The Forum, Melbourne 27/01/2024

Trying to find the words to describe Lord Huron is so difficult. They’re so much more than ‘indie-folk outfit’, ‘country sensation’ or any other combination of words rattling around in my brain. The show at The Forum proved to me that Lord Huron are so much bigger than a little box. I haven’t been able to get them out of my head, and that’s exactly what they were going for.

Support act, Asha Jefferies, should be a household name already. Her lyrics are beautifully understated, melancholic, and yearning. Her vocals aren’t like anything else I’ve ever heard. This is the last day of the tour, and yet Asha still soars to these breathtaking heights. If there is a ‘calling’ – this is hers. I stop before the main floor of The Forum, spellbound. She’s like sirens, harpies, or something else that would sink unsuspecting music writers. She feels like something out of a fantasy book. “The sound guys here are like the coolest, funniest guys ever! Give them a round of applause!” There’s just a moment of hesitation from the crowd, we are shaking off a musical spell. But then we cheer and clap and hoot and holler before she launches into one last song. “I have a new album coming out in April, check it out if you can!” I have marked April in my calendar with a big ugly red circle as a reminder, and you should to. “This last song is about loving your friends. I’m dedicating this one to Genie and Isaac, who are here tonight. It’s called Spinning.” I might gasp, or cry, or shuffle off this mortal coil for a minute. Spinning is stunning, it’s angelic and mysterious. How does Jefferies manage to capture nostalgia and aching so well in a 3-minute song? I feel like my heart strings have just strung her guitar. Listen to Asha Jefferies, remember to lie down somewhere soft, and let her take your hand and guide you into a part of yourself long neglected.

After a 30-minute break, admiring the beautiful interior of The Forum, the lights go dim. We know what that means; Lord Huron making their way onto the stage. They’re all wearing suits, in earthy fabrics like tweed or linen or suede. Two of them have bolo-ties, the bassist has a neck scarf. I see two big, black-brimmed hats. They look like relics from a bygone American era. I don’t think the cowboy aesthetic is an act for them, it feels natural. I could be convinced they bought those hats in 1879 from Ye Olde Hat Emporium. There is something timeless, powerful, and enigmatic oozing from the band.  Front man Ben Schneider seems aware of the folkloric, mythic quality the band has. After a haunting opening of Time’s Blur and Love Like Ghosts, Schneider takes the mic gently between his hands – and you could hear a pen drop in a sold-out Forum.

“We’re going to try to sort of take you on a musical journey. There’ll be ups and downs and twists and turns. Heartbreak and redemption, laughter, tears, high-fives, pats on the butt, making out – everything in between, ok? So, if you find yourself bored, or thinking ‘This isn’t for me.’ Just wait a little bit. Something your flavour will come up.”

Immediately, the band comes to life again. The lights on the forum stage dance in sunset reds and oranges and golds. Meet Me in the Woods, Mine Forever and Dead Man’s Hand, all perfectly flow into each other as I am spellbound by those lights. The instrumentals are flawless, they’re better than the album. Intricate guitar work, mesmerising vocals and a perfect dance of drums and bass in the background – it’s musical bliss. There are moments in the songs that follow that feel like homages to Johnny Cash, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young and countless other classics. Every song is Lord Huron listening, growing, and incorporating. Their entire setlist, their whole discography is a love letter to music. It’s written for those who came before then, and ferociously studied by those coming after them.

Wait by the River feels like a sermon. Schneider’s hands go above his head and he calls for us to do the same. Without thinking, my body obeys. But it isn’t just for this song, it’s the whole night. Every time they say clap, I slam my hands together involuntarily. They control every hair on my head, every muscle in my body. I’m not resisting the spell Lord Huron are casting. The band have themselves under a spell at times, like they’re mere vessels for something greater. The three guitarists in the back left drop their heads and sway, but somehow still play these beautifully intricate melodies. My jaw is still on the floor, if someone could pick it up as they passed – that would be great.

Towards the end of the night, is where we hit our high. Schneider leaves for a minute, and comes back wearing a comically large skeleton mask – el Día de los Muertos style. The World Ender and Ancient Names are both sung, played and demolished by skeleton-led Lord Huron. The mask adds to the feeling that these guys might be reincarnated, straight out of the Wild West. That they are mythical and mysterious and not of this world. The guitars are screaming, Schneider is strumming so fast his hands a blur. The vocals are the strongest they’ve ever been. I really struggled to describe this momento. It was so unexpected, so spooky, so perfect. A live-music best-of reel momento, for sure.

Something I never thought I’d see, was a theremín being played live. The stage goes black as Schneider changes out of his skeleton mask, and a single spotlight illuminates the neck-scarf wearing bassist; Miguel Briseño. He stands perfectly still, moving his hands into the instrument, and playing the most heartbreaking introduction to Way Out There. My heart almost can’t take it. I thought it would just get this solo at the beginning – oh, how wrong was I. For 4 beautiful minutes, we are treated to haunting theremin. His hands move with precision, melancholy, and appreciation for the strange instrument. He is a master. My friend keeps whispering “omg a theremin.” Over and over. Words can’t do the moment justice, yet again.

And of course, The Night We Met. One of the biggest songs of recent memory. This song is beautiful. It’s perfect, really. It’s so heartbreaking, so hopeful, so hopeless, so human. Listen to it. It makes my heart feel like it’s been chewed up, spat out, reinflated, and sent to find me. Everyone is singing at the top of their lungs. For that final chorus.

I had all and then most of you. Some and now none of you. Take me back to the night we met.

We sing and we scream, and we cry a little, and so do they. This was a special, intimate moment for everyone there that night. No notes, perfection. Now excuse me while I go cry and yearn in peace.

Schneider leaves us with some closing words, and a promise to come back soon. I’ll leave you with them, too.

See you next time, folks. Until then, live until you die.

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[Review] Joji @ Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne 20.11.2023

No one loves an artist the way Joji fans love him. On Monday night, Rod Laver Arena is a swarm of people in pink morph suits, their Nike best and excited chatter. It’s a school night, but still the kids are out. Ready for a night of high-energy debauchery and soul-sucking ballads.

Joji, or George Miller, started his career on Youtube, way back in 2008. Making videos under the pseudonym, Filthy Frank, Miller’s videos were confronting dark-comedy that took the internet by storm. During his time as Filthy Frank, he started releasing music, including an album called Pink Season. His musician alter-ego at the time, was a weird little guy in a pink morph-suit, aptly names Pink Guy. And then, suddenly, Miller retired from YouTube and his music. The edge lord king had fallen. Three-ish years later, he was back with the absolute gut-punch that is BALLADS 1. Joji was his new identity, and he had shed that strange exterior, for the squishy insides of a heart-broken twenty-something, spoken over the driving heartbeat of an R+B track.

The Pandemonium tour is an homage to the Duality of Miller. A set divided up into three sections, it lets him croon, lets him misbehave and lets him drive us wild. Joined by US Rapper SavageRealm as both his support and “mix-master”, as well as a four-piece band who look straight out of a Weezer cover band, Miller is about to blow the roof of this arena. The stage looks beautiful. Five or six boxes rise out of the ground, bordered by LED lights. Each one of them is a projection screen. So is the floor. So is the back wall. Everywhere is awash with light and swirling imagery. It’s breathtaking.

To open up the night, we are hit with some of Joji’s more up-tempo songs. I can barely hear Miller sing over the top of the beautiful choir of voices pouring out of General Admission and the stands. From Sanctuary through to Yeah Right and Daylight, the crowd knows every word. They’re putting on a show of their own, desperate to put all their energy to good use. It’s like we’re playing a game of energy-tennis with Joji, and each side is hitting a grand-slam (I don’t know tennis metaphors). Moving towards the crowd, Miller smiles down at GA. “You. I know a pretty boy when I see one.” And in we go to Pretty Boy. The soy-boy anthem, it’s a personal favourite of the night. It’s funny, it’s catchy it’s a little sexy – it’s a nod to Miller’s days as Frank. It also represents one of the many energy shifts of the night. He pulls out a merch gun and starts firing it into the crowd. At only 5’8, he is getting some serious air on those shirts. What a pro. The night is gearing up to be something high-energy, and unlike anything I’ve seen before.

Miller understands the unholy grip artists saying the name of the city they’re in on their audience. I think during every song, and every interlude, Miller screams a guttural scream of “Melbouuuurneeeeee!!!!” and everyone goes ballistic. Every time. The first time, and the fiftieth time, are both set to make Rod Laver Arena’s sunroof fly open. I peer down and spot a couple on facetime with a middle-aged man in high-vis, he looks blank-faced but on the verge of tears. There’s a young couple in front of me, she’s looking at him, and he’s glued to Joji. There is something about the masculine experience Joji captures, and you really see that at his live shows.

In the middle of his set, Joji and his merry band return, as the absolute insanity that is Yebi Labs. My jaw is on the floor. What the fuck is going on? Blow up balls, pool straws and confetti are thrown onto the crowd. The lights have turned towards us and are moving through the air, covering us in strobe, green beams of lights and yellow dots. Yebi Labs is like… Hardstyle?? Covers of rap tracks. I don’t know my electronic music well enough to describe it, but trust that it’s deeply unhinged, unexpected and an absolute vibe. Once I’m done being shocked, I really lean into it. The camera is swirling around GA, and looking at all those beaming grins, dinner-plate pupils and friends moving around like they’re at the best festival none of us have ever heard of. Yebi Labs close out with a ridiculously fun version of a song that makes me want to stick my head under water and scream; a Joji original, Glimpse of Us. And on that note, they’re finished. To prove how amped up we’re feeling, the second they leave the stage, people groan and scream and beg so loud I feel it all the way up in the stands through my feet.

As they saunter back onstage, suddenly the tech crew have got a game of Super Smash Bros on the back projection. People shove a controller into Joji’s hands, and the hands of his keyboardist. “I always whoop your ass, man. Better to play without me.” SavageRealm brags, casually. Joji mournfully and earnestly agrees. As the game starts, I’m rooting for him. Of course. I love an underdog. And in a shocking turn of events, from only two wins out of their many tours, Miller clinches it. We go crazy, and Miller leans into his Australian roots to reward us with the ultimate symbol of love; the shooey. He slurps down a full can of beer in his shoe, more than anyone asked for. When it’s done, he just stands there, real quiet. “Oh…. Oh man…. Give me a second….” And looks wavey on his podium.

Once the shooey trauma has left him, we get the Third Act of his tour. My personal favourite, this final third is packed to the brim with Joji’s saddest and most heartbroken ballads, his crème de le crème if you ask me. Opening with Die For You, I am absolutely sucked onto the stage. I can’t tear my eyes away from him. His voice is so good it sounds like the recording. On Die For You, his vocals are perfect. They’re buttery and soft, yet decidedly assured. In another life, he could’ve been a crooner, but for now, he’s paving out his own genre. Winding his way through this final act, he leaves after Gimme Love, which of course has everyone out of their seats. Even those of us not in GA are standing and moving and letting it all out.

I hate encores, but Miller is self-aware. As he comes back, voice dripping with sarcasm, he leans into the mic; “I think I forgot a few songs. My bad.” Slow Dancing in The Dark is a showstopper. Handing the mic over to us for the chorus, it’s stunning to see nearly 15,000 people scream those lyrics at the top of their lungs. The backing track goes quiet as we yell, and the arena air bounces around our voices, like a choir in a church. Goosebumps.

Glimpse of Us is such a gut-punch of a song. But Miller has decided that he’s been a little too earnest with that last tear-jerker, and first major hit, so he’s going to be a little silly to finish off. The lyrics normally go:

A Glimpse of us

Tonight, they go more like:

A Glimpse (Of WHAT Melbourne?!) Of uuuuuuussssssss

Even as he add-libs, the camera is floating through the crowd again. Men in bear hats, minion costumes and morph-suits stare up at the stage, tears brimming. Phones are mostly down as an audience is spellbound, and people embrace. Joji can’t disguise the power of his music. And we are all the better for it.

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[Review] Among The Restless @ The Evelyn Hotel, Melbourne 11/11/2023

There is nothing quite as sexy, quite as quintessentially Melbourne, quite as refreshing as a good live gig. Among The Restless wasn’t just a good gig, but a great one. They perfectly captured the Aus-Rock culture many of us love. Never have I seen an intimate mosh go off so hard, both of my glasses now sit on the Evelyn Hotel’s floor, in pieces.

And what was the glorious, sexy, punchy occasion? Me and a swarm of fans of all ages were gathered in the Evelyn’s fantastic band room to celebrate Among The Restless’ new single; PIXEL JUNKIES. Supported by several other small Melbourne bands; Tudor Club, Mathilde Anne and SCUD. Tonight was an absolute feast for the indie-music senses. I don’t have time to go over every band on this list, as Among the Restless put on one hell of a show and we’d be here for 3 hours (easily), but I highly recommend every single one of these bands. They created an atmosphere perfectly amplified by the purple stage lights, and air thick with the smell of Moon Dog Fizzers. There was something for everyone, from the occasional sad, lyrically wrenching Radiohead-esque moments to high energy tracks reminiscent of contemporaries Ocean Alley, Lime Cordiale or Wallows. I understand why Among the Restless has such a large, dedicated, diverse fan-base. Metal mum’s, Mitski die-hards and Punk teens were all standing shoulder to shoulder, spellbound by the 5-piece’s musical magic.

Torn is such a tasty opener. As a massive 90’s post-Rock fan, I can feel the influence of bands like Sunnydale Real Estate, several Grunge heavyweights, and Pavement. They really have a little bit of everything, and tasty is the perfect word. The bass, the guitars, the driving drums and vocals, all of it fuses together and it melts on my tongue. After opening up with Torn, powerfully enigmatic front-man Rhett James takes to the mic. Dripping with charisma, he spends a lot of the night talking directly to this crowd of hungry fans. We eat up every word, and he knows it. “Stay restless!” He barks the order at us, and we completely obey. Back-to-back bangers No Sense // No Feeling and Ego push the night to an impossibly high level. These songs have a definite ‘kick’ to them, elevating from just tasty to fuelling. I’m nervous – how will they go keeping up this level of energy? But I shouldn’t have had any fear, Among The Restless have the attitude and bite of musicians 20 years their veterans.

Rhett beams at us, “This is the saddest song from our second EP. Written by yours truly, our guitarist Seamus, it’s called Star Crossed.” Magician on the strings, Seamus Glenn coyly smiles and in a shy little voice just says, “stop it.” The love between them is clear, and it’s wonderful. Star Crossed is without a doubt, a crowd favourite. Everyone around me is lost in reckless abandon, and all I can hear is a chorus of “How low! How low!” Faces are red and screaming, the band room is entirely under a spell. It must be an absolute treat for Rhett’s family, who are up visiting from Brisbane. His brother is wading through the crowd taking photos and videos of twenty-somethings losing their fucking minds. “It’s quite emotional actually” and I hear James’ voice crack a little. But immediately he has to lift the mood, “Josh’s bass is fucked and Lachie’s guitar has fallen off, so now I’ve gotta stall. I’ll tell you a story I guess. One time Seamus and I got into Berghain, and we learned how to dance the proper, European way. And then kissed some German guy.” For the uninitiated, Berghain is maybe the most exclusive club in the world, with online simulator games to test if you’re “cool” enough for Berlin’s upper-echelon of club rats. Among the Restless are cool enough for Berghain, confirmed.

Slave Within the Change has to be another crowd favourite, this is the song where the first of my two glasses got smashed. I understood. One can’t not move to the 5-piece powerhouse of masculine love, energy and musical ecstasy.

“We’re gonna play a song we finished like last week, so it’s probably the only time you’re gonna hear it in a long time. One of us wrote this song about an ex-girlfriend who really liked the movies. So, yeah. Stay tuned, it’ll probably come out in a year.”  The unreleased track is aptly named Cinema, and I can’t wait for its release. As the ex who really likes the movies, the lyrics are a perfect cocktail of funny, aching, and catchy – the Among the Restless specialty.

For a song no one’s heard, it gets rowdy. People are getting so down and so dirty. Rhett seems genuinely surprised, “This turnout’s fucked hey.” And people cheer, jump in the air and knock over yet another one of my glasses. “I saw someone do a bump before, that shit was lit. Keep it up.” And the drums kick us into Missing Pieces. The instrumentals in this band are fucking ridiculous, shimmery guitars, pounding bass and drums that dance around each other – it’s such a delight.

The 5 piece move offstage to grab stools, and I was very confused. Stool break? That’s a first. But when they come back, the fellas sit down and dish up an acoustic cover of Underground. It’s so beautiful. So beautiful. Rhett’s vocals really shine here. The pipes on this kid are next level, ethereal shit. I’m spellbound, and every inch of me has goosebumps.

The Screaming Jets are Aus-Rock royalty, and as a fellow Novocastrian, my ears immediately perked up hearing their name. In a tribute to James’ close family friend, Paul, they lose themselves in a neck-breakingly good cover of Needle. It’s bittersweet, powerful and shows the importance of community and musical brotherhood. Rest in Peace, Paul.

Wastecase into Someone Else leads us to the absolute showstopping finale of Lucy and, of course, PIXEL JUNKIES. Rhett comes out in full drag, “THIS IS FOR THE MILF’s”, is what I’m 99% sure he said. And god I hope it is. MILF Supremacy. Sporting his outfit from the recently released film clip, the stage littered with props from the same, it dawns on me as they shred through their final number and brand new single; these guys are the embodiment of the Wheatus song Teenage Dirtbag. They’re sweaty, messy with bleached buzzcuts and mullets, but they’re so much fun. They get the girl, they lose the girl, they write an amazing track. Honestly, they capture something so uniquely Australian, so nostalgic and outrageous. Stream this shit, I’m being dead serious. It’s so, so good.

Among The Restless are keeping the traditions of Aus-Rock alive. They don’t take themselves too seriously, they have such loving energy between them. They embody the community, the comradery and the love of music. And god can they play. With a setlist nearly 90 minutes long, they never get sloppy. All of them were born to play their instrument, it seems as natural as breathing. Keep an eye on these guys; I just know they’ll be big.

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[Review] All Time Low @ Margaret Court Arena, Melbourne 4/11/2023

Saturday was an absolutely massive day for anyone who hated high school, made questionable Omegle calls, or had a Tumblr between 2009 and 2016. Pop Punk royalty All Time Low and Mayday Parade have arrived in Melbourne for a double act of debauchery, moshing, and one hell of a trip down memory lane.

I remember hearing my first Mayday Parade song on a So Fresh! Hits of Summer 2009 CD. So, I have to admit, I was a little nervous to hear them play live. I was sandwiched between some of the rowdiest concert goers of living memory, and we were hungry for a show. Were they going to be able to provide? It seems wrong to say a group of guys who haven’t yet hit 40 are in their ‘twilight years’, but Mayday Parade was formed in 2005, for God’s Sake. That’s nearly two decades of performing and touring. That is the twilight years! But I should’ve known better than to be nervous.

Oh Well, Oh Well, is quieter than I expected for an opening song. But the violin is beautiful, it’s haunting and delicate and washes over our expectant grins. And then Jake Bundrick comes in with those drums on the chorus. And I’m taken all the way back to 2011. I’m kicking rocks as I wait for the bus, I’m changing math class again, I’m at Margaret Court jostling as much as I can in my seat to keep rhythm with the women either side of me. Every word flows out of me, Mayday Parade have just unlocked something in me. Derek Sanders takes our hands, holds them lovingly, and guides us through the rest of their setlist. He is quiet, gentle, and absolutely Earth-shattering. His voice is so good, so good. Pain, love, loss all come out of him fully formed and I find myself grieving every song as soon as it’s finished. Sanders shows us how much of a master of his craft he is, in the acoustic version of Miserable At Best. Margaret Court is awash with phone torch light. This song was born to be played acoustic, born to be played live. I have never felt more lucky.

It’s clear the band have been a unit for so long. Bassist Jeremy Lenzo and guitarist Brooks Betts wind their way between each other without thinking. They’re two parts of the same whole. Everyone has this beautiful, innate understanding of the others. As individual players, their skill cannot be understated. They play to not only match the recorded version of the songs, but to destroy it. The Tallahassee natives absolutely blast their recordings out of the water. Driving, pounding, relentlessly rhythmic bass, shredding, treacle-sweet guitar licks and delicate, precise, endlessly engaging drumming keep my eyes glued to the stage for their whole set. And god, it’s too short. At only 10 songs long, I am positively gutted when it comes to an end all too soon.

But at least we get to finish on Jamie All Over. I watch GA shake off all of the emotions from the set. They’re grinning, bumping into each other, as the fellas onstage give it everything they’ve got. Guitars turned up to the max, Bundrick is slamming on the drumkit so hard I’m worried the skins will break. Everyone looks so alive.

And then it’s time for the illustrious return of Maryland emo-Rockers, All Time Low. This will be their first time in Australia since 2017, and to say it’s nostalgic – is the understatement of the fucking century. All Time Low are the high school anthem makers. In harsh contrast to Mayday Parade’s setlist – we’re in for 22 songs from a nearly 20-year career from this band of agents for chaos. If any band was going to be a parody of medieval travelling bands – these guys would be hit. They’re all energy, humour, and an endless stream of increasingly elaborate bits. They’re horny, nostalgic and angsty. They’re a delight in every sense of the word.

Nothing can describe the absolute tidal wave that is Lost in Stereo into Damned if I Do Ya (Damned if I Don’t). All Time Low sucker punch you to welcome you to the set. Unbelievably high energy, pumping lights and new takes on beloved riffs – this is an opening impossible to forget. Everyone is up. There are no seats, they’ve turned the whole fucking place into a moshpit. The control they have over us and the room is impossible to replicate.

“Holy fuck there’s a lot of people here”. Front man Alex Gaskarth is met with a tsunami of applause and cheers. “This is the biggest show we’ve ever played in Australia. And that’s all thanks to you. We’re four guys from Maryland who started this shit nearly 20 years ago – in high school, and we never, ever thought we’d be here.”

After several more songs punctuated by flashing purple lights, Rian Dawson’s inimitable drumming and Gaskarth’s unbelievable vocal power, our front man takes to the mic again. “This is a song about love.” And we launch into a mashup between, Modern Love / Stella and Tell Me I’m Alive.

God these guys are a unit. The amount of stage guitarists Jack Barakat and Zack Merrick can cover while getting these intricate runs note-perfect, is unlike anything else I’ve ever seen. All Time Low do high-energy better than anyone else in the business. They are proving, with every sensational second they’re onstage, why they’re pop-punk heavy-weights. The musicianship, the effortless banter, the charisma – all of it is what puts All Time Low on top. And they’re dishing everything out for us at Margaret Court.

New touring member to the band, Dan Swank, is having a birthday! “Not only is it his first time in Australia, it’s also Dan’s birthday! Let’s all sing Happy Birthday 3 or 4 times.” Gaskarth chirps happily into the mic. We’re having none of it. There’s only one thing we want him to do.

Starting as a dull drone, and growing to a yell, the room is full of;

Shooey! Shooey! Shooey!

“You guys are fucked. You know that right? This is so completely depraved. Who the fuck thought this was a good idea?” Gaskarth might be appauled, but Barakat has already whipped off his shoe (suspiciously fast), and Swank has filled it with beer. Down the hatch. The applause is next-level.

And then we are thrown back into it. Winding our way through bagner, old and new, I have to stop us at Fake As Hell. As he absolutely tears up his vocal chords delivering us spine-tingling belts, Gaskarth takes a minute to thank the queen of pop-punk. The one. The only. My first musical hero. The other-half of the poppy, sardonic tune; Avril Lavigne. “Make some noise for Avril Lavigne. Here in spirit. She’s eternal.” Fuck! Yes! As the punchy, tongue-in-cheek tribute comes to a close. Gaskarth takes a minute to address us, after a heckle from the front row.

“I’m 15!”

“Oh fuck yeah dude! No, seriously, that’s great. Who here saw us when they were 15?” A bunch of twenty-somethings hiding purple hair in the corporate world cheer. “Thanks for growing up with us guys.”

It’s a very sweet moment and reminds me of why I loved bands like All Time Low in high school. They’re messy, they make mistakes, they’re human. They understood what growing up was like.

“Alright now for something less sappy. This is the horniest song All Time Low have ever written. And I won’t apologise.” The song in question is, of course, New Religion. The stage is bathed in purple and red light. It’s just sensational. Gaskarth purrs into the mic, accompanied by the hypnotic drum work of Dawson. The song is extra hot, and extra heavy.

The set goes by in a dream. It’s alive, it’s electric. Each song is punchier than the last. And I’m not entirely sure how we ended up with the band stopping, Barakat taking the mic and asking Gaskarth; “Hey, have you ever? Ever felt like this?” Zack Merrick chimes in, “Where strange things happen?!” And suddenly, they’re playing Round The Twist. They’re dancing to Round The Twist. All Time Low, are playing Round The Twist. What the fuck is going on. We’re losing it. Some people are trying to film it, but laughing too hard, others are headbanging. Barakat was absolutely right when he said; “Glad to know you all still stand for your national anthem.” All Time Low casually pulling out maybe the most iconic live music moment of 2023. Go off boys. Their commitment to the bit is second-to-none.

And as teenage Nikki favourites like Weightless play out, I get a little teary as we hit the last song of the encore. “Take us home everyone!” And in perfect unision, fuelled by patriotism and teen angst, we sing out the end of Dear Maria, Count Me In. And it’s over. The lights come up and it doesn’t feel real. We were somewhere else. A delightful time capsule of a bygone age of hairspray, shitty bangles and musical perfection. And god do I want to go back.

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[Review] Earl Sweatshirt @ Northcote Theatre 17/10/2023

Thebe Neruda Kgositsile has been in the rap game since 2007. At only 29 years old, he’s a veteran, and his show at Northcote Theatre proves just how much he’s a master of his craft. Kgositsile, or as he is better known, Earl Sweatshirt, rose to prominence as the prodigé of fellow rapper, Tyler, The Creator. Sweatshirt’s early days were spent as part of powerhouse rap collective, Odd Future, under the sculpting gaze of his contemporaries, including both Tyler, The Creator and Frank Ocean. It’s easy to see the lasting impact on his live work, bur dare I say that the student has become the master? Or, at the very least, the student has become a wicked good-time and unrivalled craftsman.

Despite his support cancelling due to illness, Sweatshirt is determined to give us our money’s worth. He comes on early, energised and with a drive I’ve never seen in another artist. I’ve seen Sweatshirt perform before, but it was outside at a large festival. Here, in such an intimate venue, you can really see that hunger in his eyes up-close. These are the venues he was born to play.

The projector screen behind him scrolls through everything from abstract, pulsating shapes, to Keith Haring style animations to old films, in a sketchbook style. Every song is a different visual track, each of them more beautiful and more alive than the last. The lights at the front of the stage face outwards, shades of orange, purple, blue and white, wash over us. It’s visually stunning, and borderline genre-bending, rivalling bands like Slowdive for visual prowess.

For hardcore fans and casual listeners alike, this current tour boasts some delicious treats from the LA-native. Within the first half an hour, Sweatshirt spits out two unreleased tracks. But you wouldn’t know that. His crowd is eating every crumb out of his hand, and whether or not they know the words is irrelevant. He’s filled the room with so much energy that no matter what, we’re going to be loving it.

But it’s not just the unreleased. I’m at the back of the room, groups of guys with cross-body bags and girls in tall platform sneakers crash into each other and cheer louder and louder for each song Sweatshirt pulls out. And, he pulls out a lot. His setlist for the night is nearly 30-songs long, and never does he let the energy drop. It’s an unbelievable display of musicianship, showmanship and self-discipline – I’ve never seen anything quite like it.  But no two songs go harder than the back-to-back combo that is Geb into Sirius Blac. The crowd is already going nuts after Geb, with cheering and applause so loud I feel it in my feet. But Sirius Blac is next level. All I can see are hands, heads and drinks held up above the crush of people. It’s a tidal wave of energy, clinging onto every word.

Tabula Rasa is beautiful, the sound mixing bringing out the soulful vocals in a way that’s so sublime. A very different vibe comes over the room, it’s a crackling, electric stillness. Time stops passing as we focus on nothing except Sweatshirt. As it comes to an end, he addresses us directly. “Put your hands up if you’re having a good time!” We put our hands up. “Y’all up the top, looking like John Wilkes Booth, put those motherfucking hands up so I know you aren’t about to shoot me like y’all shot Abe Lincoln.” The mezzanine puts their hands up. “There you go.” And then he throws us into EAST. Our hands start moving in unplanned synchronous harmony, and it’s magical.

We follow him on a winding journey through his discography, and when we hit 2010 he takes to the mic; “If I don’t play this, everyone’s like Play it! So you all better keep the same energy.” We don’t even need to think about it, and yet again come crashing back together. We are a ferocious wave of energy, and Sweatshirt smiles as he raps – he’s loving it just as much as we are.

By the tail-end of his set, he’s clearly letting his guard down. He’s shown us what he can do, so he eases up and talks to us again. The way he addresses the crowd, it feels like we’re old-friends hanging out in someone’s garage after the party’s ended. “Do you remember when that one girl (Katy Perry) was like

Do you ever feel? / Like a plastic bag?

We start singing the rest of the cultural icon that is, Fireworks.

“No don’t keep singing! Just process that. Like that’s crazy. That’s a lot. Do you ever feel like a plastic bag? We’re gonna talk about that in a second.”

He’s so funny, in this casual, laid-back, deprecating way. And before we get time to talk about it more, “Y’all would open up a pit for anything, so open up.” And I have to quell my laughter as I prepare to wrestle for my patch of ground again.

NOWHERE2GO is an absolute crowd favourite. And honestly, we kind of look like plastic bags, drifting through the wind. Erratically moving, making waving patterns with our bodies. I didn’t think such a left-field gag would be so fitting for this crowd of rowdy misfits, but it was.

We’re out of breath, sweat running down our faces, but Sweatshirt doesn’t look any different, he’s not even out of breath. “Honestly, bars! Like, do you ever feel like a plastic bag? Bars, man. I could never write something that good.” And, to prove how very tongue-in-cheek that point is, we get treated to, Shattered Dreams. God, this song is delightful. It showcases Sweatshirt’s past as a poet, shows he’s his father’s son, show’s he’s everything to us.

The rest of the set is a blur. Finishing with his encore, a Mac Miller cover, an emotional tribute to the late rapper. New Faces V2, isn’t what I expected, but it’s an amazing finish. It’s vibey, it’s got this driving beat live. Immaculate.

Grinning, sweaty, with aching feet, I am desperate for the cold night air. But already, I’m aching for more Earl Sweatshirt.

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[Review] Peach Pit @ Northcote Theatre 11/10/2023

For me, no band, ever, has better captured the feeling of nostalgia, of warm summer days, of platonic love and the happy-go-lucky experience of solo travel quite like Vancouver indie-rock powerhouse, Peach Pit.

During the depths of COVID lockdowns, I’d seen them play a “live” show through zoom. But I’d given up hope they’d ever travel down under. But then, on some glorious weekday – they announced their tour. Instantly, I scarfed up tickets. Since then, it’s been an exhilarating wait, that honestly made me a bit nauseous with excitement. Clearly, I wasn’t the only one. Their first show sold out so quickly, even with a venue upgrade. And their second show was essentially sold out as well, with a mere straggler of tickets left. We were certainly showing the 5-piece our appreciation.

The energy at Northcote Theatre was absolutely infectious. There was a buzz in the air that made the hairs on my arm stand up straight. Australian up-and-comers Eliza and The Delusionals played an ultra-short, ultra-punchy set. Ripping through some excellent tracks from their new album; Now and Then, as well as their superb collection of singles. We were in the mood and absolutely ready to rumble.

The next hour and a half have made writing a review nearly impossible. It’s rare you see a perfect set. But there is no better word for it than, perfect. Neil Smith on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Chris Vanderkooy on lead guitars, bassist Peter Wilton and drummer Mikey Pascuzzi have come such a long way, even in three years. They are not the same band now as the band I watched, cooped up in my room, playing thousands of kilometres away. The addition of multi-instrumentalist Dougal Bain McClean (some people have all the luck), has undeniably helped push them into new heights of “chewed bubble-gum pop” perfection.

As the stage turns red, and spotlights flicker over the crowd, I see Smith’s bouncing mane of hair before anything else. Quickly, he’s followed by Vanderkooy, The Moustached Maestro as I affectionately call him. The rest of the band appears onstage, and we are faced with 5 dudes, in t-shirts and jeans. Not too baggy, not too tight. They’re Just Some Guys. But don’t let looks fool you. These averages Joe’s are about to do something crazy to my brain chemistry.

For context, Peach Pit have a melancholic take on surf pop. Their songs are heavy with slow, soulful vocals and driving lead guitar breaks. So, I was a little shocked when the fellas launch into a cover of Slayer’s Raining Blood. Smith steps up to the microphone and in his best metal voice growls for us to “get the fuck up motherfuckers”. He is a whirling dervish of curly hair and devil-hands as the instrumental cover rages. Suddenly, it stops, and we are taken into Being So Normal. There are perhaps no two songs less compatible. But god does it work. Instantly, I’m taken somewhere else. “Show ‘em Chris!” Neil moves over to let his high school friend work his magic on that fretboard.

The volume of songs Peach Pit have in their repertoire, is unbelievable. For a band less than a decade old, the setlist is 22 songs long, and there isn’t a weak link amongst them. Having released their third album, From 2 to 3, last year, I was expecting that to be the track list for the evening. I was wrong. “Because this is our first time here, we’re going to be playing lots of older stuff! For all of you who’ve bought our merch and waited so patiently. Thanks, so much guys! We love you!”

The next hour is a blur. From driving drums and twinkling guitars of 17-year-old Nikki’s favourite song, aptly named Seventeen, to the shredding guitars of Psychics in LA – this set has it all. Old fans, new fans, stragglers off the street – everyone is jumping around, waving their hands in the air, transported to another plane of musical ecstasy. Go with your friends! That was when Smith says “This song is for when your best friend really pisses you off” you can share a look and laugh through the opening notes of Vicky. Go with your heartbroken friend, so you can scream the permanently-stuck-in-my-head hook of Shampoo Bottles. Go with your stoner friends so you can sway to the stoned lullaby that is Tommy’s Party arm-in-arm. Remember the better times. Be like the two guys in front of me, hugging and looking into each other’s eyes.

I’m so glad you’re alive!

I’m glad I’m alive too!

Fuck yeah, dudes. It’s hard not to be with Peach Pit as your soundtrack.

Private Presley has been in my top 5 favourite songs since its release. Wedged between the melancholic love-song that is Figure 8, and the summer picnic banger to end all summer picnic banger’s, Up Granville, it’s a surprise. Those early, gentle guitar notes slide over my eardrums, and I’m spellbound. Vanderkooy’s guitarwork and Smith’s pitch-perfect, dulcet vocals lull me into a dream. McClean comes out on fiddle, and the way he plays is so mournful, so beautiful, so heavenly it makes me want to scream. As we hit the climax of the song; all messy guitars, feedback, and flying hair, I realise this show is going to be one for the ages. Peach Pit is many people’s first introduction to the band, it’s slow, it’s sad, it’s iconic. Smith barely has to sing as the crowd carries us from verse to verse, chorus to chorus. A high school anthem for some, breakup song for others, and something else entirely for most – it’s an absolute showstopper.

Undeniably, and unsurprisingly, one of the highlights for the evening is Alrighty Aphrodite. The lights go orange, Smith abandons his guitar for his iconic, stoic dancing and I pick my jaw up off the floor. This song is So. Fucking. Sexy. It starts slow, with delayed guitar so it sounds like it’s wafting through fog. It’s gentle drumming feels like footsteps. The bass is present and driving. Smith’s vocals are haunting, gentle and sturdy. Exactly like the goddess for which it’s named; it’s magical, mysterious, thalassic, beautiful, and hot as hell. It infects my arms and legs, and my body is no longer mine, I follow where Peach Pit take me, and I happily resign myself to my fate.

As our penultimate finale, Chagu’s Sideturn is so high-energy, so fun, that the ache in my legs from standing is gone, and all I can think about is summertime. It’s so quintessentially Peach Pit. It reminds me of growing up in Seattle. I taste the ocean air of the Pacific Northwest; I stand under those blue skies. I want to curl up in a lawn chair with a Carlton Dry. Chris is an absolute God on the guitar. A force of nature. These guys are proof that simple, skilful musicianship can never be beaten. They dance together, hug while playing and are grinning ear to ear. They might be more stoked to be here than us.

We do a cheer for their Aussie guitar tech, Adam, and with another laugh and lick of the guitar strings, they’re off. Immediately, I’m aching for more. Luckily for me, I had bought tickets to experience the joy, the mystique and the indescribable resonance that is Peach Pit. Whatever it is, these guys have it. Go on and get a taste for yourself. But be warned, once you try some, it’ll become your favourite meal.

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