THE GET UP KIDS + CITY RIOTS + WE SET SAIL
THE HI-FI, BRISBANE, 05.08.11
After you have spent your Friday slugging it for the man, selling overpriced and expensive homewares for an excruciating nine hours to overpaid white women, husbands under the thumb and elderly couples who have a zest for restoring old caravans, there are only a few things you want to do when you get home. Some of which would be removing your work trousers, pouring a glass of your cheap student-accommodated $24 a bottle scotch, lighting a cigarette and settling down in front of Seinfeld with your feet up, your junk loose, not having a fuck in the world. Or, you are lucky enough that The Get Up Kids are playing in your town, alongside two of the most promising acts in Australian music … Fuck sitting at home watching Seinfeld with my balls out, I’m going to the punk rock show.
The time I had between when I got home from work to when I had to be a the show was minimal. I had two hours to stuff my face with day-old Red Rooster leftovers, iron my shirt (looking good for the ladies, right?), get naked, shower, get dressed and drive all the way across town on about $10 of gas. As much as I love The Get Up Kids, chilling at home drinking scotch without pants sure sounded appealing at this point of the evening. I got going and finally managed to find a park that may or may not have been illegal. Who gives a fuck that it was a 15 minute walk from the venue and it was only 11 degrees and windy as all shit out? Finding a car park in West End on a Friday is like stumbling across the Lost Ark, or some other Indiana Jones bullshit like that.
After the crisp 15 minute walk to Brisbane’s Hi-Fi Bar I walk through the doors at approximately 8:30pm. Half an hour late. Perfect timing. Because everybody knows if you don’t get to a show early then you are forced to stand around and drink beer with the roadies, merch guys and a few of the groupies waiting in the front row. Fuck that. You want to be walking in the door at the moment that first band goes on so you can avoid awkward social situations and if you are forced to network with people you can listen to the music, nod your head, smile and raise your eyebrows every now and again and bust out the occasion, “Ohhh really”. Trust me kid, my system is foolproof. Networking and business is for offices and suits, shows are for the music. Once these lines are crossed everyone will be fucked. I don’t want to talk to you, I just want to see some punk fucking rock and roll. As I walk in and make my way up the short, wide, semi circular staircase of the Hi-Fi I can already hear the distorted guitars and sounds of the night’s first band, We Set Sail.
We Set Sail aren’t like your average band. They are one of those bands whose sound is hard to describe without just rattling off a list of some of the best bands in alternative, instrumental and shoegaze music over the past 10 years. Taking the stage in a shared uniform of skinny ripped jeans, tight plaid shirts and low cut Vans sneakers, the band looked like they had just come from their support slot at some DIY punk show with Joan Of Arc, Pavement and Cap’n Jazz at some suburban American gym hall back in the early 90′s, and their sound agrees. Showing elements of progressive hardcore and punk rock, We Set Sail can be likened to 90s underground scene bands like Saetea and Circle Takes The Square but also shows the musicianship, subtleties and diversity of more recent bands such as Brand New and Moving Mountains.
As the band move through into their second song, the intricate nature of the music becomes more and more evident. The passion that this band shows for what they are doing and what they are trying to achieve is second to none and everyone in the room is captivated in a matter of minutes. Their music paints soundscapes that give your imagination and creativity freedom to go and do whatever the fuck it wants. It evokes emotion, passion, intimacy and in a more suited setting and atmosphere, has the potential to be some of the most stimulating music that you have ever heard.
An elevated stage and crowd barrier meant the band can’t use their usual stage set-up, so guitarist and vocalist Paul Voge has to hide side of stage behind his newly acquired beard instead of standing up front playing with his back to the crowd. It doesn’t matter where they’re standing though, I could have left happy after only seeing two songs. Shit, the way this band makes music I could have gone home, smoked a joint, put their shit on repeat and written all night. That’s the thing about We Set Sail, much like genre heavyweights, Explosions In the Sky and Mogwai, they are inspiring and thought-provoking. Their subtle, passionate and specifically used vocals are timed to perfection and the use of triggers to activate the Rocky, Al Pacino and Richard Dawkins quotes playing over the soft and beautiful instrumentals signify glimpses of absolute brilliance and leave you in a state of ponder over taboo topics such as religion and self worth and discovery. Ultimately, the drummer is the one behind the band and keeps everything in rhythm and time, even triggering the overlaying quotes and speeches throughout their set. I know that’s what a drummer is supposed to do but in a time when the latest drum beats are made by some eight-year-old kid on his MacBook Pro it’s nice to see that some musicians are still kicking old school.
When all your songs go for eight or nine minutes, a half set just isn’t enough for most bands to showcase their entire catalogue of beauty, triumph, depression and musicianship, but We Set Sail pull it off with nothing but elegance and beauty and an underlying sense of casualness.