In an attempt to revitalise their local scene, Melbourne’s Clowns are throwing five unique gigs at …
THE RED JUMPSUIT APPARATUS w/ The Comfort, Satellites & Joy In Motion
Thursday 29th November, 2018
The Triffid, Brisbane
Kicking things off, pop act Joy In Motion are tasked with opening tonight’s show at The Triffid. We know this not because of some deep-seeded intuition about the intricacies of live music acts, but because vocalist and solitary hand-clap aficionado Jake Solway tells us so. Despite the largely empty room and the glazed-over look on people’s faces within the first 20 seconds of the quartet’s first song, Solway is bound and determined to get a handclap going, as the backing track belts out some huge millennial ‘woah-oh-ohs’ from what we can only assume is a chorus of invisible singers back stage. Now look, pop music is fine. Honestly. We’re not complete haters. And it’s no secret that backing tracks exist either. However, the unspoken rule here among artists is that using such tools should be subtle and deft, used sparingly to enhance the quality of your performance and not just be the fucking performance. At numerous points in their set tonight, we hear crisp vocals and clear harmonies when no one is even remotely near a mic, gratuitous synth and key lines (Minus The Bear called, still waiting on those royalties for See Your Face) where the necessary instruments are in absentia, and those bloody ‘woah-oh-ohs’ in just about every single chorus. At some point, it’s kind of just taking the piss, right?
Despite it being 2018, and the world moving ever so closely to The End of Days by teetering on the edge of oblivion, pop punk still isn’t dead and Satellites want you to know it. Garnering some impressive support slots of late with acts like Moose Blood, Hundredth and Brisbane’s own The Brave, the five-piece are clearly stoked to be here this evening, as they blitz through tracks from last year’s Black Dog EP. On tracks like Glass Jaw and Thank You, vocalist Mitch Chamberlain makes it his mission to not stand still, zooming from stage left to right like an erratic ping pong ball. Bassist Dan Goodwin throws down the occasional backing vocal, in between head bobbing and getting swept up in the band’s mix of melodic hardcore rhythms and pop-punk sensibilities. While drummer Riley Boyce evidently needs a sleeveless shirt behind the kit, especially after working up a sweat with furious tempo-setting and beating his cymbals like they owe him money. Special mention also goes out to the band’s performance of Gritted Teeth, where Chamberlain is clearly getting some shit off his chest with a vocal hook that speaks for itself: “I’d rather be a fool that spoke his mind, than a gutless fucking coward.” True, dude. After the curious head-scratching that came before them, it’s just refreshing to see and hear actual instruments being played. Satellites definitely know what they do, they do it well and a few friendly faces in the crowd tonight reciprocate kindly with cheers and raised arms.
With their brand new debut album What It Is To Be only a few weeks old, it’s exciting to see Brisbane’s favourite sons The Comfort up on the stage tonight. Bathed in hues of yellow and blue (no doubt a throwback to their colourful album cover), the quartet get off to a little bit of a shaky start, hampered by some obvious technical difficulties. All things considered, album openers Heavy Heart and Dissolve bring the band’s strengths right to the front: shimmering, shoegaze riffs from guitarist Marcus Parente, laconic and breezy tempos from drummer Izaac Calrow, and the vocal balancing act between guitarist Liam Holmes and bassist Dominic Harper. Throwing it back to the catchy hooks of Everstone off their impressive Love EP from 2016, everything finally clicks into gear and the four-piece appear to iron out any live kinks. As a cohesive unit, the band then whirls through some deep cuts off their album, much to the thickening crowd’s pleasure. Die Alone still has one of the band’s best choruses, and in a live setting, the track feels raw and visceral. Holmes channels his inner Jim Adkins on the positively rocking Futures, while Harper gets to flex his muscles on Misery, giving the single extra depth and power from his position on stage right. Finishing up with the kinetic Love & Other Drugs, The Comfort give it their all and flail wildly about the stage, commanding attention with powerful riffs and emphatic performances.
Now, Floridian rockers The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus are certainly no strangers to our southern shores. As vocalist Ronnie Winter—decked out in a wardrobe of ineffectual California cool, complete with some Ray Charles-aping indoor sunglasses—attests within the first few tracks of their streamlined and focused set tonight: “We try to come here every two years, but now we’re back in just a year. We thought we’d come back earlier for you guys. How do you feel about that?” And judging from the roaring applause and sea of woots and hoots, everyone’s pretty stoked about it. Officially, this tour run is in support of the band’s fifth studio album, The Awakening, released earlier this year. And while the band dish out meaty cuts like Fighting Everything and On Becoming Willing (Winter also makes point to mention the success of the latter on their native Billboard charts; the Christian one that is), it’s fairly obvious what fans are here to see this evening. Even the playfulness of the album’s title track, which feels a little bit close to something we’re calling ‘Hillsong Audioslave’, fails to get the crowd up and pumping for a minute or longer.
Prepared for this bait and switch, the band quickly pivots into cuts from their 2006 breakout record, Don’t You Fake It. The lofty chorus of Misery Loves It’s Company showcases the huge set of pipes Winter’s working with, as he effortlessly controls his impressive vocal range like a seasoned pro. In Fate’s Hands features some tasty licks from lead guitarist Josh Burke and Ronnie’s brother Randy on rhythm guitar, who provides coarse backing screams that throw us right back in time to the days of purposefully curating a Myspace Top 8. Moving into more sombre territory, Cat and Mouse gets a massive sing-a-long from the crowd, even as we’re lining up at the bar for the first of many mid-set beers.
Half-way through the set, the light’s dim and the stage tech helps Winter with an acoustic guitar set-up. After instructing everyone to just “be quiet for a little bit,” which, thankfully, the crowd obliges to do so, Winter begins to tell the heart-breaking story of the recent murder of Queensland woman Toyah Cordingley. Now, we’ve covered this particular in depth here, so we don’t need to rehash the details. Suffice to say, Winter’s heartfelt sentiment was very touching, where it was obvious that Toyah’s story had moved him and the band, and that they wanted to give back in what little way they could. Delivering a rousing performance of Your Guardian Angel, which was Toyah’s favourite song, the Brissy crowd do their best to help lift Winter’s strong vocals to soaring new heights.
At the set’s end, we get a taste of the band’s glory days with singles False Pretense and the revelatory Face Down, an anti-domestic violence scene anthem that has profoundly stood the test of time. For this one in particular, the venue is bathed in a glow of phone screens and Snapchat videos, helping us to see the smiling faces and mouths miming the infectious and hook-laden chorus. As the group close out with The Grim Goodbye, Winter implores the Brissy crowd to take heed of two important points: “1) Jesus loves you. And 2) Drive home safe.” Now that’s the type of benevolence I can get behind. Praise be.
If you have any information regarding Toyah Cordingley’s murder, please contact Crime Stoppers 1800 333 000.