After a seven year split, Brisbane punk-rockers Speedlab made their triumphant return to music with …
TROPHY EYES w/ Dear Seattle, Maddy Jane & Stumps
Thursday 11th October, 2018
The Tivoli, Brisbane
Are we the only ones who think that having doors at 6:30pm is, well, how you say, “taking the piss?” Look, we get it, it’s a school night, but god dammit: I’m an adult, ok? I have to do things. After bailing on work post-haste, we fortunately arrive in the Valley with time to spare, and even enough for a cheeky pre-schooner at the Jubilee.
Devouring this frothy delight with far too much relish, we then trundle up the road to The Tivoli to witness Newcastle’s finest and tonight’s headliners, Trophy Eyes, do their thing. Given the earlier hour, it’s hardly surprising that it’s a rather sleepy affair inside. We post up at the back on the room with only the company of a one Young Henrys for consolation. There’s a track from the recent (and excellent) The Story So Far record playing over the PA, and we remark internally how that seems rather fitting. Glancing around the room and taking in the sights, we also spy a framed Bog Saget poster from his The Dirty Daddy Tour in 2014, and again remark how that seems rather fitting as well. (Giving voice to an internal monologue is a bizarre thing.)
While we’re waiting for first act Stumps to get going, tour manager Mark Bawden (RIP Break Even) comes on stage to inform everyone that second support act Maddy Jane sadly won’t be able to make tonight’s show, and as result, everything has now been moved forward. As consequence, Stumps won’t be on for another forty minutes. I guess we definitely needed those 6:30pm doors then. Resolutely seeking out the positives in life, we use this opportunity to duck back to the Jubilee for the inhalation of a chicken parmy, while amusing ourselves by watching “Krazy Kathy’s Karaoke” go through their initial event set-up. Riveting stuff. Once more, we shuffle back up to the Tiv, back to the back of the room, with yet another beer for comfort/solitude.
Arriving at the actual musical portion of the evening, when Stumps do get going, it’s immediately obvious what we’re in for: tucked-in shirts; upbeat guitars on straps that are super high and tight, so the dudes look like they’re playing ukuleles; upbeat indie rock tunes with a heavy dose of that good ol’ post-punk aesthetic. Working through tracks from their EP, Just Another Stay at Home Son, the quartet give an earnest and endearingly messy performance, even if that mostly comes down to the rough mix. Vocalist and guitarist Kyle Fisher definitely has a few warbley tones up his sleeve, as evidenced on the track Piggyback, and at times he seems to lean heavily on some Ian–Curtis-on-quaaludes inspiration. As for those high notes though … swing and a miss. All in all, the four piece manage to get bodies swaying in the largely milling-around crowd, and go down rather well.
In terms of between-band people watching, tonight is a total doosie: fashion that appears to be Splendour-meets-active wear (sweat essential; maybe?); hair and make-up styles that angle for that Empire Records–Hackers-cracked-out-90s look (regrowth optional; choker necklace mandatory); one dude in those pastel red skinnies that somehow still exist (*gasp*); a group of girls in matching denim jackets, skirts, socks and shoes in all-acid-wash-and-black combos; oh, and that one woman that we swear was wearing what can only be described as Matilda cosplay.
There’s a huge round of applause for main support Dear Seattle when they take to the stage. The Sydney lads have garnered a huge following over the last year, with a steadily rising profile, and when they launch into the stellar The Things You Do, the sing-a-long from the Tiv is emphatic and sincere. As the long hair quartet rip through banger after banger track, with quality cuts like Cut You Deep and slowburn Quiet, it’s clear there’s some fans of the neo-grunge revival sound in the house tonight. The group throw a curveball into the mix with a brand new track, tentatively (and somewhat suggestively) titled Dr Phil, and vocalist/guitarist Brae Fisher is more than happy to walk the crowd through the call-and-response chorus melody. When the crowd nails the practice run, Fisher remarks that it was “top shelf,” and appears to be surprised and pretty chuffed with their efforts.
Moving to the end of the set, The Meadows is suitably rousing, and still has one of the best ear-worm choruses we’ve ever heard in a long, long time. During their set, we can’t help but notice Trophy Eyes front man John Floreani taking in the show from the vantage of the sound desk, amid fielding constant pleas for impromptu photo-ops from fans, which–we’re pleased to report–he handles with the calm, cheerful, measured and thankful expression of a seasoned music veteran. Dear Seattle’s newest single Maybe starts off with a lyric that goes “I don’t wanna go to university/’Cause I don’t think they offer a fuckwit degree,” and frankly, we feel personally attacked, but it’s also dead-on and we smile wryly regardless. As Fisher hints at the band’s writing process for a debut album, the commitment to Afterthought as their set closer offers a tantalising glimpse at what’s in store for the band’s future.
Trophy Eyes absolutely have that confidence, and then some. From the outset, their set tonight is one of emotional highs and lows, delivered with fun, passion and sincerity.
There’s a certain confidence you have to have when you’re a bunch of young dudes from Newy who call their third full-length album The American Dream. It might be hard to pin down, but here’s the honest truth: Trophy Eyes absolutely have that confidence, and then some. From the outset, their set tonight is one of emotional highs and lows, delivered with fun, passion and sincerity. Their set is almost split in two, delineated by new and old. Leading with Lavender Bay, Broken and Something Bigger Than This, we’re witnessing a more-polished, moody and operatic ensemble. There’s a noticeable inclusion of pre-recorded strings and orchestration in the background, not to mention the bombastic intrusion of confetti cannons to punctuate the real ‘got-ya’ moments in the bridges and tightly-wound choruses. Autumn gets its live debut here as well, before the band charge into More Like You, with Floreani spins around with his arms outstretched, amping up the crowd with endless requests for energy. There’s the surprise inclusion of Hurt, a non-release single, which also goes down rather well, alongside the dramatic Miming In The Choir, which causes one dude in front of us to start screaming the lyrics at ‘I’m-at-the-footy’ volume.
In the second half, the band circle back to their Chemical Miracle material, which the crowd are both well-prepared and appreciative of. Heaven Sent is still a straight-up banger, but it’s a shame that the excellent lead/rhythm guitar interplay between guitarists Andrew Hallett and Kevin Cross is drowned out in the mix, sounding a little flat and dull. Breathe You In and Suicide Pact make for a nice combo, varying in tempos and mood, with bassist and back-up vocalist Jeremy Winchester have a grand old time prowling his corner of the stage with a huge smile slapped on his face. We’re surprised to hear Daydreamer in a live setting, but it goes down a treat, followed by Floreani going solo, bathed in red hues and performing acoustic renditions of Tip Toe and A Symphony of Crickets. A strange choice for end of set, but it makes the return to glorious cuts like Chlorine and You Can Count On Me that much more enjoyable. With their set coming to close, we’re sure there are a lot of Trophy Eyes fans lamenting another day of work/uni/life/etc. ahead, wishing that it could really be Friday Forever. And just for tonight, just for them, perhaps it might be.
Catch Trophy Eyes at the remaining dates:
Thursday 18th October //The Gov, Adelaide
Saturday 20th October // The Forum, Melbourne
Tickets are on sale now via trophyeyesmusic.com.