Howler, Melbourne VIC
December 19th, 2019
After spending several years hurtling their way towards Aussie rock stardom, when Children Collide called it a day back in 2012, many were left puzzled. As indie-rock festival favourites, it was a risky move, especially coming so soon after releasing 2012’s Monument. As it turns out, the prolonged sabbatical has failed to dent the band’s fanbase – even after seven long years. Apart from a brief two-show reunion in 2015, the Melbourne locals have kept them waiting.
Thankfully, last month’s release of Aurora brought an early Christmas present, a pair of long-awaited homecoming gigs. Kicking off in Sydney, the trio headed south the following day to shake the foundations of Brunswick’s Howler.
Opening with Chosen Armies, soon followed by Across the Earth, it’s obvious just two songs in that the hometown heroes didn’t come to cash-in, but to hark back to their roots. Children Collide rose to prominence with their undeniably effective formula of queasy chord progressions and cathartic choruses. In an incredibly fertile period for music, their unique sound was both wilfully convoluted and wildly influential. Boundaries were pushed and bodies were bruised.
Tonight was no different.
As for the fans, they haven’t changed either, as huge sections of Howler were word-perfect on Skeleton Dance – a staple of its time.
When the band crash into the next song, Uh Oh, the three-piece – Johnny Mackay, Ryan Caesar and Chelsea Wheatley – proved they do still have the ability to be atypical. The song may not be well known yet, but they brought enough energy to warrant an astonishing blitz on the dancefloor. Future single Mind Spider was also warmly received by the crowd, easily finding its feet within the first verse.
The night then took the band in some fascinating, previously unexplored directions, as the likes of Turrets and Trampoline found themselves reinvigorated and exploring thrilling new territory.
What was most humbling, was after hearing their biggest tracks sung en masse back to them, Mackay seemed genuinely moved – so much so he makes several mistakes throughout the set. But we didn’t care, we were just happy to be there. And happy it finally happened.
Among their stacked catalogue of jerky riffage, Fire Engine and Social Currency haven’t dampened a bit and are a thrilling reminder of just how heavy and fun this band are. Even Jellylegs’s collision of synchronised thrash and soaring singalong are a still a spectacle to behold.
Children Collide are a band whose live performances are characterised by their wild energy, extreme passion and sheer power. And as one of the very best bands that Australia has ever produced, tonight’s show was a shining example of their abilities and career to date. And considering the reception they received, it’s clear they are no nostalgic act, but a timeless rock band for the ages.
Gig Review by Jimmy Russell @jamco17