Trophy Eyes / Apart From This / Raccoon City Police Department / Our Past Days / Dear Seattle
The Bald Faced Stag, Sydney 08/10/2015
Review: Matt Doria | Photos: Billy Zammit
The last Trophy Eyes show to blow Sydney up was all the way back in January. Considering the blokes would smash out a gig (or four) every other weekend before then, the nine-month wait for their Homecoming Tour had left us with a John Floreani-sized hole in our lives that we were desperate to fill. There are a couple of bands out there pretty good at doing what Trophy Eyes do, but to put it simply, no band are a better Trophy Eyes than, well, Trophy Eyes. Needless to say, there was no way in hell we were going to miss this show, even if it was being held at The Bald Faced Stag.
Local rockers Dear Seattle powered through a 20-minute set generously overstuffed with crushing drums and seductive riffs. Though the four-piece seemed awkward at first and looked amateurish in their composure, they sounded anything but. They were loud, coarse and passionate, an emotively charged eruption of groove-tinted indie rock with a considerably gritty edge – mostly thanks to the venue’s mixing, but still gratifying nonetheless. The fact that they’re from the Northern Beaches makes perfect sense; this is body-boarding, volley-balling sandcastle music for the sun-loving emo in all of us.
Next up were the fellow locals in Our Past Days, a pop-punk band that didn’t sound like a rip-off of anyone in particular (an honest rarity in 2015), but whose vocalist [Matt Doherty] is quite possibly the biggest stereotype of pop-punk culture that we’ve ever seen… And we saw Man Overboard last month! The dude is a total legend though, with top notch vocals to match. The band’s pseudo-abrasive energy and kinetic pliability gave them an enthralling sound that we’re simply unable to compare with another act. The obvious stand-out from their set was recent single “Bloom Where You’re Planted”, which melded playful bursts of pop together with wailing guitar solos. It was the first song of the night to have the crowd in motion, and as the quintet wrapped up with two further bangers, they body-slammed their way onto our list of bands to keep an eye on.
Raccoon City Police Department are a fantastic band with some absolute gems in their live setlist, but it would be insincere to imply that their set tonight resembled that of an enjoyable experience. Levi Cooper’s vocals were mostly inaudible for the former half of their set, washed out by ear-piercingly loud guitars that sounded more like the in-flight screams of sleep deprived toddlers than cohesive playing, despite the three shredders actually having some solid talent. The latter half of their set saw some much-needed improvements being made, aside from Cooper’s microphone apparently electrocuting him when he went to touch it. One upside was closing track “Lungs” – a progressive crooner that built into an explosive breakdown, and a moment almost worth enduring the aforementioned suffering for. Almost.
As if the sound engineer held a personal grudge for Raccoon City, following band Apart From This were great. Rough and moody with a spellbinding psychedelic bite and bursts of convulsive ardour sprinkled throughout their 30-minute set, the Melbourne quartet went above and beyond their A-game tonight. Their performance all came down to one thing: riffs. Will and Tim Maxwell were demons wielding axes, possessing us with the sweet, sweet curse of fist-pumps and headbangs as they squeezed out the final drops of hype for the night’s headliner.
It hasn’t even been a full year since Trophy Eyes gave us all the feels with their debut full-length Mend, Move On, but the Novocastrian sadcore punks are already tearing shit up with more exhilaration than some of the biggest acts in the scene. The quintet have always put on a quality show, but in the nine months since their last Sydney gigs, they’ve improved a thousandfold. Wearing the same Skate Borp shirt that he was when the band played UnFun Fest last year, Floreani was more animated, more interactive, and more embracing of the tireless vibes circling the room – he was also wasted, but that’s neither here nor there. On disc, Floreani sounds raw, raspy and vulnerable. Tonight? He sounded commanding, alive and embedded with guttural fervency. He laughed amongst fans in-between songs and encouraged us to jump up onstage… Until someone did. “Okay, maybe no more stagediving,” the frontman said sheepishly when one punter wound up being violently dragged out by security guards. “Be nice to each other, but also… Bash each other,” he joked.
Trophy Eyes are noted for their gravelly and depressing sound, but tonight’s set was built first and foremost on unrelenting sprightliness. Their setlist consisted mostly of cuts from the debut, amped up and dialed to 11 on the mosh meter. As the band broke out into recently released B-side “Tired Hearts”, the audience went utterly mental. Washing machine circle pits were spinning out of control in the centre, while those upfront were showing off their impressive lyric-memorising skills. “Prom Queen” sat in the middle of their set and served as a faultless encapsulation of the five-piece, starting slow and emotional before quickly taking a sharp left turn into holy-fucksville. The festivities ended abruptly after 45 minutes, with no warning or indication that the band were done sucker-punching us with their ire. There was no encore either, but that could be attributed to the fact that they’d powered through almost their entire discography before walking off.
Precipitous ending and shitty sound be damned, this was one hell of a show. “Trophy Eyes” and “smiles” are two terms you wouldn’t usually associate with each other, but as the hundred or so fans huddled their way out of The Bald Faced Stag, it was hard to find a face that looked anything other than ecstatic.