Words by Sam Wolstenholme
As an avid gig goer, most of the time when I attend hyper-local lineups I will at the very least have an enjoyable night out, kicking back with a few beverages and listening to some pleasant live music. But sometimes, I will attend a local gig that will demonstrate in no uncertain terms that there are those local gems who are bursting with talent and blow all expectations out of the water, bands who are screaming to be on much grander stages. This has been the case for me at Stranded Bar tonight for Brisbane-based “sob rock” trio Upsetter’s debut EP launch show, co-headlined by Melburnian rockers Reside and supported by Morningside and Linora Drive.
When local emo kids Linora Drive begin their set, initially there is only a smattering of punters curiously hovering near the stage. Yet the quartet’s infectiously catchy sound, which I would describe as No Doubt meets Paramore with a charming Aussie tinge of Missy Higgins, instantly captures the crowd’s attention, and suddenly a surge of fans materialises to almost pack out the room. This band is joyful and comfortably confident in their performance, and when frontwoman Kira announces that this is only their second gig, I am genuinely blown away. There are a few tech issues with balancing out the levels between both lead vocalists/guitarists, but once those are smoothed over, we are able to hear, crystal clear, the remarkable coloratura soprano vocal range of Grace, frontwoman #2. Linora Drive are an absolute delight to watch and listen to, and the crowd are lapping up their jolly emo bangers (a fun oxymoron) – I will definitely be keeping an eye on this band.
Morningside are next up, launching into a unique blend of bratty Blink 182-esque punk with thrashy drums to give the sound a brash 1970s edge. Where the mood in the room was previously one of more casual fun, this instantly stirs up a more chaotic thrill. This is thanks in large part to their frontman who is completely embodying the Sid Vicious, reckless rockstar image as he jumps atop any foldback, block or platform he can find and practically starts a solo mosh with continually frenzied movements. A few punters have left since Linora Drive’s set, but Morningside’s relentlessly energetic performance reels them back in soon enough. There’s a great cover of “Berlin Chair” by You Am I, and the second-last track in particular is a real belter, giving Millencolin meets Sydonia vibes. For all their chaos, Morningside have delivered a tight and controlled set tonight.
Somehow, this is Upsetter’s first gig in Brisbane – and second gig ever – yet they have attracted a huge crowd for the full playthrough of their debut EP “Doomgaze”. This turns out to sound like exactly what’s written on the tin, as the trio paints a velvety soundscape of sad, shoegazey post-rock complete with warm, expansive bass tones and pretty clean guitar melodies. Frontman Jasper’s dulcet vocal tones echo Kasabian’s Tom Meighan, and the overall sound is reminiscent of sleepmakeswaves meets Cog with the reliably hooky chorus melodies of 90s alt-rock. Upsetter delivers a very tight performance for so early on in their career, and Jasper is so heartfelt in the way he expresses his gratitude for the multitude of punters present to witness their first steps in their live gigging journey. Tracks like “Martyr” have a good groove to them and a gritty edge with some punchy drum work, calling us back to attention before we drift off on an otherwise dreamy shoegaze cloud. The crowd reception is raucous towards the end of the set, which wraps up with “Emotional Hygiene”, a banger combining sludge rock petulance with spacey synths for a hint of mysticism. It’s been a fantastic performance from Upsetter tonight – we’re all feeling our feelings much more than we were before, and I’m still impressed by the fact that this is only their second gig.
After a year in gig hibernation, Reside have travelled up here from their stomping ground of Melbourne to join Upsetter for the two exclusive EP release shows, but from the quality and energy of their performance, you wouldn’t know they’re only just getting back into it. This band delivers such a unique sound that blends flavours from so many genres into a layered, lush and complex musical offering. There’s “Heroine”-era Thornhill vibes happening here with silky sweet vocal harmonies, jazz and funk stylings, and then feral screams and angry punk-shoegaze passages for a contrast that should be jarring, but it just works, especially in a live setting. The six-piece barrel through a catalogue of tracks that completely stand out from each other, and I’m really struck by the originality of this band’s compositional style. Even though there’s a smaller crowd here than there was for Upsetter, the punters who have remained seemed to be fans already as they gather right up close at the foot of the stage and sing along to a few numbers. It’s a fun and dynamic set from Reside tonight that has definitely left me wanting more.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – don’t sleep on local bands, because if you do, you’ll really miss out on the place where greatness begins. Tonight’s show has proven that to be true.