Republic Bar, Hobart TAS
May 19th, 2018
Supports: Clowns, These New South Whales and Boat Show
Fronted by the prolific, almost-too-happy-for-a-depressed-chick Ali Flintoff (of Dream Rimmy notoriety), Boat Show is a five-piece hailing from the west. They’re a rag-tag collective with no real “look”, instead carrying a DIY and mismatched aesthetic which could comfortably have been lifted from the primordial ooze of early 1990s post-punk and slotted into any Wes Anderson film you care to name. Really, it could’ve gone anyway at that point.
As the first few surges of bass crept in, I’m immediately recalled of The Sweet‘s “The Ballroom Blitz”. The bass is melodic and driving, the drums are relatively simple, and the guitar progressions are catchy. On top of that, Ali’s stage antics are pretty engaging, carrying an innocent cuteness fortified by with a sardonic and acidic edge. It works. The lyrics are coming with a flurry of falsetto and the Sprechgesang that has permeated the scene in recent years, and tour through a range of diverse topics… like being sad, and being sad in a new city (“all my friends are moving to Melbourne, same shit life in a different state”)! Even social issues got a look in, with tracks like “Cis Whiteboy”.
As the set wore on, I must admit I became much more impressed with their music. They seemingly got more into the groove of it as time passed, getting used to the venue and the audience they were serenading. Flintoff at several points throughout the set illustrates this by climbing into the crowd, and doing things like attempting to ballroom dance with audience members while her band play instrumentals. The instrumentals are great, too – there’s definitely a lot of promise there.
It’s hard to know how to place them. In some ways they’re carrying all of the anger and frustration that The Smith Street Band do (and following in the path of Wil Wagner’s vocal stylings, as with so many of their contemporaries), but they’re doing it in a way that has these vibes influenced by some very diverse players. I had moments of Veruca Salt, Romeo Void, and Talking Heads, all packaged up neatly into one very angry package.
All in all, a pretty solid set to start the night. I quite enjoyed it and I certainly want to see them again.
These New South Whales
Hooooooooly fuck, sports fans. I’ve been writing for WoS for about 6 months now, and I don’t think I’ve written any especially bad words yet (it helps when you pick your own work, let’s be honest). Well… I guess I was saving my quota for this one.
Ostensibly these guys are good. I’ve been told they are anyway, and the crowd somehow knows who they are. “Okay, maybe they’ll be decent,” I try to assure myself, preparing for another impending onslaught. My spirits were crushed fairly rapidly once the first notes fell.
When they arrived on stage — half-naked, and with their nipples crossed with gaffer tape like a second-rate Till Lindemann — I was expecting I’d be seeing something like a Rammstein show with fire and industrial sounds. What I ended up with, however, was a barrage of poorly timed and gratuitously overlengthened samples, a singer who looked and moved like Jared Leto‘s Joker (if Jared Leto‘s Joker was somehow even less likeable), and a serious lack of cohesion between the band. The net result was a wall of sound (hey, that’s this publication!) that stripped any joy left from Boat Show‘s set before them and slaughtered it for laughs.
I wanted to like them, I really did. I tried to appreciate the set until my ears literally bled. I failed, a defeated husk steamrolled by a wall of shit-rock and overplayed stage gimmicks delivered with no discernable charisma or poise.
Individually their contributions were serviceable – they’re not untalented musicians and it’d be disingenuous to say that they are. Hell, there were even some GOOD bits from individual members, like solos that I’m sure recorded would sound pretty decent! Actually, pretty much any time the singer took it upon himself to shut the fuck up was infinitely better. I will say that, however, having musical talent and making a good band are not the same thing. That is especially true when gimmick and pretence seems to take the forefront of the assault and displace any semblance of unity and more or less destroys the individual merits hidden underneath it.
I tried hard. But I’m stuck here two days later with a head that feels like it’s been hit mercilessly–repeatedly even– by a freight train and ears incapable of hearing any sound without wanting to bleed more, and I honestly can’t think of a whole lot positive to take away from it in summary. I am almost tempted to look them up on Spotify and see if their recorded works are better, but I sincerely can’t afford to throw my laptop through the wall in a fit of blinding rage.
After the disappointment/rage/pain of the previous set, and a name like Clowns, I’ll be brutally honest and tell you that my expectations for this were about a 1.2/41. They were low. Were these low expectations founded? Well, as it turns out… no. It took all of five seconds for me to feel at ease with what was about to unfold.
As they crash into the first song with an intro reminiscent of the power that The Clash had on several of their records, I notice something about the crowd. In other cities I’ve been to gigs in, there’s this distinct homogenous nature to the audience – the look tends to be the same, like a series of remixes on the same riff. Not so in Hobart – every gig I’ve been to here have been filled with these random collectives of every walk of life, mixing seamlessly and fully. It’s actually really cool to see the lines so thoroughly blurred. Clowns, commanding us from the stage, seem right at home with that.
Immediately the contrast between them and their previous stagemates is stark: they are polished, tight, and above all else, likeable. That likeability brims over with the crowd starting numerous moshes and commencing the crowdsurfing and stagediving that would become staple for the rest of the evening – swelling and moving in on the stage as closely as possible to soak up the sin. It just worked.
Their sound on the night was reminiscent of a lot I heard in my youth, feeling like a pretty good analog for something out of the early 90s in sound and texture. They play in a thrashy style, but not messy – offering technical phrasing where it counts, but not disappearing up its own arse. It’s just good, old-fashioned rock and I appreciate that of them so much.
I was enjoying myself enough that I actually forgot to take notes for a bit. There wasn’t really anything more to say, and if I’m being honest, that’s exactly what I had hoped for.
After their set, the guitarist approached me and shook my hand and thanked me for coming to see his band, something that’s not happened a whole lot while I’ve been going to shows. That, to me, speaks volumes – an appreciation for the ability to share your craft can carry you a long way, and I honestly hope it does – god knows they have a good blueprint to get them there.
I’ve gotta come clean here… I really could’ve written this review about a week ago and had it still be entirely accurate, bar a few minor details like the actual set list. I knew more than well enough ahead of time what I would need to be writing, and actually going to the venue was really just a formality. Any time you see the boys, you know exactly what you’re going to get, and what that is is one of the best live shows – period.
I’ve seen them probably 10 times in the last decade-ish, and every single time they get so much better. When I moved to Hobart, I was pretty sure I was going to have to go back to the mainland to see them again — a chilling prospect, because they are easily my favourite live act by far. On the back of the release of their bloody lovely latest offering, Bloody Lovely (my early pick for 2018’s best release), they announced Hobart was on the docket and I knew I had to go.
If you’ve never been to a DZ show, firstly, and most importantly, you seriously need to work on amending that as soon as possible. But second, you’re always confronted with three main features: blindingly-bright strobes lights, a tsunami of noise, and a sea of inebriated punters being swallowed up by the aforementioned.
When you listen to them on record, you’re filled with this sense of excitement and energy from catchy riffs and driving beats that come at you with fluency and power. Counter to most bands in the modern age, however, these guys aren’t recording artists who play live shows — on the contrary; they’re a live band that just so happens to make records. It shows, and crowds absolutely adore them for it.
In this instance, The Republic can hold realistically about 150-200 — it’s ultimately a dining room with a stage in the corner– but it felt like there were thousands there with the intensity of the vocals being screamed in unison.
While ripping through the top-end with songs lifted from their latest release (“Shred For Summer”, “Feeling Good, Feeling Great”, “Bad Influence”) and an older favourite (“Less Out of Sync”), everybody somehow knew every single word and volleyed it back towards the stage with such volume that it drowned out the wall of speakers screaming at us. This continues more or less unrelenting for the next hour.
There’s some absolute high points in the set. The guitar on “High”, for instance, left me with chills — it sounds that much better, that much more sparkling and bright, and utterly massive, in a room filled with a swell of bodies sufficiently large to topple an unsuspecting mountain. The baseline for excellence of the evening was already sitting at a solid 12.73 out of 10, so that step above is elevating into unfathomable territory. We pay them back for this excellence in kind, moving in unison and becoming one with the blitzkrieg we’re underneath.
Compared to previous shows I’d been to, the crowd were actually surprisingly well behaved. I’d done my best to remove myself from the direct firing line of the punters in a fevered trance clawing and raging at one another like animals, instead opting to hide at the absolute back of the venue. This proved entirely unnecessary — something I can only credit The Republic‘s low ceilings for. This round saw crowdsurfing and stage-diving, but nobody was pretending they can fly and jumping off of a third-floor balcony into the crowd below. It’s hard to tell if that’s a win or a lose, though.
I’ve listened to all of these songs hundreds of times now. I’ve heard every single note that many times it may well be encoded into my genome at this point, every subtle nuance there is to hear — but they somehow still felt exciting, and it felt like the boys are still absolutely loving what they are doing. You can sense the feeling of joy from being in front of a room ready for a good time and blowing it away with atom-bomb- force.
I knew weeks ahead of time what I was getting into, and in honesty, that was an absolute high to ride on. I knew I’d be validated in my expectations, and holy shit, was I ever right. DZ do it like no other, and I’m incredibly thankful to get to see them do that on a fairly regular basis.
Review by Benji Alldridge
Revisit DZ Deathrays‘ Shane Parsons co-hosting Wall of Sound: Up Against The Wall here
These New South Whales
DZ Deathrays – The Bloody Lovely Tour
with Clowns, These New South Whales and Boat Show
May 23rd @ 170 Russell, Melb
May 24th @ The Triffid, Bris – SOLD OUT May 25th @ The Triffid, Bris – SOLD OUT May 26th @ The Triffid, Bris – SOLD OUT