Words by Kate Lockyer
Images supplied by Gabi Rankin (@gabirankinecreative)
The Space&Ages merch launch night more than proved them as a band taking off in the local music scene. Brisbane these days has no shortage of up-and-coming bands making the rounds in valley venues, but venture out of the valley to another live music staple The Bearded Lady on a Sunday night and you may find an equally intoxicating lineup.
The boys in the band – Phinehas Spence, Baxter Dalgliesh, Samuel Kickbusch, and Hayden Perfect – put together a thrilling show to officially launch the Space&Ages merch, which was eagerly snapped up on the night. Their pals Colleen Ave and Couch Surfers kicked off the night in style.
Colleen Ave has the charisma of all our beloved Aussie indie rock bands, earning this cred by nailing covers from Ocean Alley, Spacey Jane, and The Rions. That said, their originals were doubtless some of the best songs from their set, and while they may have tapped into a popular contemporary sound in Aussie music, their sound also packed in a blast from the past with 80s synth and saxophone mixing things up. Despite having six band members onstage, the music was not in any way overcrowded, each instrument adding a new layer to the mood of the tracks.
Colleen Ave’s songs came with some heavy lyrics, from a resigned “It’s like the apple never falls that far from the tree”, to a tune about being six sheets to the wind and wanting to drive straight into the wall. They hit just the right tone though, and the relentless energy of the music swept the crowd along, with fiery guitar solos, marching drum beats, and looping melodies across the vocals and guitar. Their last song, an original, was packed full of that sweet, sweet love-gone-wrong vibe. It had all the ingredients of a solid indie rock song, with a strong lyrical hook – “blamed it all on everything but myself”, imagery of thunder and lightning, jangly guitars, and a driving beat.
Second band of the night Couch Surfers brought us a grungier, punkier vibe. Their first couple of originals let us into the angsty emotion behind the tunes and introduced us to vocalist Chloe’s penchant for leaning into the lower register of her voice while keeping its sweetness. Can’t Sleep kept us on our toes with a switch up in rhythm and a timely crash of drums in the chorus. Their cover of Valerie came with space-age sounding wiry guitar alongside deep vocals, while Teenage Dirtbag had the band showing off their 90s/Y2K sound and grooves.
By the time main attraction Space&Ages took to the stage, The Bearded Lady’s back room was packed, with many new faces among the crowd. The band put out a high energy from the start with their electrifying rock sound, interspersed with moments of gentler emotion. The first few songs get us in the mood for more, with Phin’s sultry vocal tones, Sam’s guitar a force to be reckoned with, and Hayden and Baxter’s unparalleled, energetic rhythms. Their track High for Free will be their first single, slated to drop in the next few months, and Phin’s belt at the top end of his range is a highlight in a searing performance.
The next song, Temporary Bliss, is more mellow, with Ocean Alley vibes. The low-voiced verses are enthrallingly confessional, and buzzy bass and fuzzy guitar as the drums beat down get the room clapping along. Higher-pitched vocals near the end are spacey, before the band resumes bouncing around onstage to finish with a descending riff and a massive drum solo.
Human Nature begins with a muted riff on the electric as the lyrics begin, and we hear the depth and earnestness in Phin’s voice and almost chime-like quality in the timbre of Sam’s guitar. He sings, “Maybe it’s a part of my human nature / But I’m not gonna stop fighting for ya”, in the chorus, and as if to bring us back to reality there is a crashing instrumental, bursting the serene bubble the song had created with a thick layer of sonic goodness. An outspoken classic rock solo starts the next song – Tendencies. The band’s energy matches the bravado of the intro, helped along by an audience familiar with this catchy tune from previous gigs. They quickly have the room shouting along to the chorus.
The ease with which the band switches gear from full-throttle, swaggering rock song to softer, reflective tunes, without losing the essence of their sound, is impressive. The next track Phin says is about the difficulty of relationships, but he adds, “even after a breakup it’s important to see the beauty in what was”. Peaceful guitar licks and echo effects add to the atmosphere of this track, about bittersweet acceptance, “dreaming of city lights and getting stoned… and though the love didn’t last every moment in love is bliss”.
Then, a cheeky cover of Sex by The 1975 features an insanity of a guitar solo by Sam and a guest appearance from Harry Harvey on guitar. Special mention also has to go to the impromptu drum improv at the end of the song, which has the crowd screaming at Baxter’s feet. From there, the band launches into another song that is well-known by the crowd, this time with Harry and another special guest Chris Dwyer, who joins Phin on vocals as they hedonistically declare, “Spendin’ all my money / On things that never really do me any good”. Hayden’s bouncy bass gets your feet moving, really the hero of this track.
The tunes pause for a quick beer chugging comp between Elanor and Aaron from the audience to win a some of their new merch – a Space&Ages shirt. They break into another cover they have nailed the delivery on, classic track Should I Stay or Should I Go. They deliver more charisma and a warmer vocal timbre than the original, with low, almost whispered vocals, until the intensity of the chorus sweeps away the audience. A tremendous instrumental solo shows off the band’s impressive technical chops, and the switch to double time near the end gets everyone hyped up even further.
…Hyped up, of course, to chant “one more song” with gusto. Their last track El Dorado had all the best elements of their sound, wistful instrumentation that switches effortlessly to their louder, rockier sound and Phin’s smooth voice. The crowd is enthralled, their phone lights glowing and swaying to the softer beginning of the song, but dancing around and clapping along by the last chorus. The night was a fantastic success – unsurprising, when it is filled with three fantastic local bands.