The Pink Room of YES opens its doors and plays host to three incredibly exciting Australian bands as Brisbane dance-punk outfit DZ Deathrays, touring with new album Positive Rising: Part 1, bring their European tour to the drizzly north-west of England along with fellow antipodeans Wharves and Planet, the former of which making their UK debut in front of an already-raucous crowd, clearly already split the beer atom open to welcome in the weekend.
Clad head-to-toe in black, New South Wales four piece Wharves have a slight throwback sound to the crunching, assertive indie rock of the early 2000s. Hugely confident and owning every last square inch of stage with frontman Matthew Collins leading the band with great swagger, throwing shapes that accentuate the angular riffs that sit atop Fraser Perrott‘s danceable beats.
“Man You Want Me To Be“, a powerful but refined dance-rock hybrid is a guaranteed floorfiller and even this early in the evening draws a huge response from the Pink Room.
Wharves have been able to build their popularity in the UK, particularly Manchester as they have been championed by a number of radio stations and internet outlets, particularly Radio XS, so when announcing new single “Blame” it is welcomed like an old friend- the sound breaking wide open like an outback roadtrip with Matthew climbing onto the drumkit, an effortless showman. The twin guitar freakout of “It’s You“, Wharves‘ set closer, feels streamlined and focused as the sound soars out and over the adoring crowd, powerful but never overbearing. There’s only one chance at a first impression and Wharves have made the best one possible.
Almost entirely through word-of-mouth and on the back of a number of tours, Sydney‘s Planet have amassed a die-hard following in the UK, which was clear from the start as every word sung and every riff played was bellowed back oftentimes louder than anything Planet could actually create.
The clock turned back a decade or so by Wharves is moved back further as Planet feels firmly indebted to the anthemic everyman style of the mid-1990s, with Tom Peppit‘s echoing, chiming guitar lurching into a huge, Supersonic sound that could sit happily on one of the early Shine compilations. Every song is treated as royalty, and rightfully so-“Northern Sky” feels like a lost treasure from Creation Records‘ roster, singer Matty Took‘s lyrics and delivery able to captive with ease. “Aching Dream“, a hazy washed-out dreamlike singalong, is Planet are their finest- this is truly a star-making performance to a clearly onside YES– this is a band that would easily conquer the world. It’s just a matter of time.
It takes 3 songs for the Pink Room to descend into absolute chaos- after droning, cinematic opener “Hi Everyone“, DZ Deathrays‘ bludgeoning mixture of post-hardcore and grimy dance-punk (with the slightest hint of surf rock thrown in), heavy but groovy with melodic chops hidden beneath: think 1989 Melvins waking up on the beach after a night on the VB longnecks- interlinked guitars (one downtuned, Sleater-Kinney style) offer a sound edging towards the heavier end of skate-punk at times when Shane Parsons and Lachlan Ewbank‘s close harmonies sit together above the adrenaline surge, the low-tuned sludge a soundtrack of bodies leaping across the room, a flesh-and-blood tidal wave crashing against the edge of the stage.
Along with YES‘ in-house lighting, DZ brought in their own equipment- flashing LED bars adding a DIY punk dimension and extra intensity as the trio slow to a crawl, dissolving into a wall of distortion before blasts from drummer Simon Ridley resume the frenzied attack, the grungey verse-chorus-verse given an extra element with atmospheric electronic drums, a pulsing dance undercurrent that really allows the band to stand out with their individuality.
The Positive Rising material goes down a storm as expected, but when DZ Deathrays reach back to their previous albums, the response is crazed, the Pink Room almost exploding entirely when “Gina Works At Hearts” kicks in. The Brisbane trio are an absolute force to be reckoned with both in studio and on stage, and as the chaos before them reaches a climax with Offspring-esque “Shred For Summer“, Lachlan‘s straight-to-the-point lyrics summing up both the band and the night as a whole: It’s something simple, to make you feel good.
Words and photography by Liam Moody.