Drown this City + Danger! Earthquake + Capone + Autumn in Alaska
The Workers Club, Melbourne
17 June 2016
Review by Rod Whitfield
Photo by Andrew Basso
This night was four slightly different takes on the post-hardcore sound on a wet, chilly Melbourne evening. The temperature certainly rose, however, within the four walls of what has just about become Melbourne’s premier small rock venue. Melbourne five-piece Autumn in Alaska put out a tight post-hardcore sound that is kind of punky at times, a little gothic at times, and utilises some pretty effective syncopated rhythms and stop-start dynamics. Their use of samples is interesting too, they use some interesting sounds (at one stage it sounded like a piano accordion between the riffs), but it’s never overdone or overbearing.
They have a pint sized frontman who happens to possess a set of lungs that must take up half of his body, and who at times spent more time in the crowd than he did on the stage. Which I personally happen to like. Apparently he’d had a bad cold for several days, but you wouldn’t have known. Add in some great movement on stage and Autumn in Alaska put on a nice entertaining opening set.
Capone do the post-hardcore thing with a strong sense of song-craft. Their apocalyptic guitar sound was offset nicely by a dirty/clean vocal trade-off that is quite effectively executed. These guys also have a strong and movement-filled stage presence, and ‘off-stage’ presence for the bass player, and their set was a short, sharp blast of heaviness that seemed to whizz by.
Danger! Earthquake have a slightly different version of the sub-genre again. They utilise slightly straighter grooves than the bands before them, and a more contrasting vocal approach. They have a male/female trade-off, with the bloke’s vocals deeper and more guttural, whilst the female’s voice is very melodic, almost poppy, which provides great contrast to the dirty vocals and the hammering music. Unfortunately, this was apparently the girl’s last gig with the band. I hope they bring in another female vocalist for the dynamics it creates. These guys, and girl, put on a very entertaining set, getting the crowd pumping and jumping with their massive grooves.
Now for the main event. Possibly the most incredible thing about this show was that this was Drown This City’s first gig. Ever. They were launching their debut EP, False Idols, which is blessed with world-class quality. Could they match their recorded output in their live show?
The answer is no; they didn’t match it. They smashed it to pieces.
I’m sure most people reading this will have experienced a gig where you come out of it thinking that you’ve possibly just witnessed the beginnings of something very special. That was exactly what I was feeling, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if a number of the sold-out crowd walked away feeling the same. This band truly put a different spin on the over-subscribed post-hardcore sound. The electro/techno influence plays a far bigger part in their music than it does with most other bands of this ilk, and this provides a massive point of difference. I am absolutely no techno aficionado, but when it’s such a kick-arse setting as this, I become a fan.
An even bigger distinguishing factor is the female vocals of Alex Reade. She is another pocket stick of dynamite, short in stature but enormous in voice and presence. Her work on the EP is pure pulse pounding vocal insanity, but could she re-produce that in a live setting? Again, she did not, she took it to another level above. Her vocals stripped the paint off the walls of the Workers. The band was tight as a clenched fist, the sound was massive, the tracks from the EP lifted another gear live and the new tunes they played sounded incredible. And the frenzied gathering responded with moshing, fist-pumping enthusiasm.
And this is all on one gig in their entire career as a band. Imagine what they’ll be like when they have a bunch of tours and hundreds of shows under their belt? It fairly boggles the mind. You could say I’m kind of excited about this band. Make sure you check them out when they play near you, they will blow your mind sideways.
One day the people who were there to witness this will be able to say ‘I was there at the very beginning’.