The crowd that made it to the Enmore theatre before the music started was noticeably young, the average age sitting solidly at around 18. A collection of $70 op shop threads and $5 white K-mart T-shirts huddled close to the stage, as a teenager on pingas loudly declared he was going to try and make friends with everyone at the gig.
For those involved with Sydney’s DIY music scene, Passing is somewhat of a supergroup. The DNA of acts like HANNAHBAND, Canine, Michael Crafter and Snape float around between each of the band – and if those names mean anything to you, you already know the magnitude of such a collaboration. For those that don’t, there’s never been a better time to discover their collective abilities; here thrown into a blend of first-wave emo and hardcore intensity. Vocalist Naif Martin thrives in the frontperson role, throwing themselves into direct and fearless lyrics detailing identity politics and gender dysphoria against crushing baritone guitar and a rolling onslaught of drum blasts. We’re only in single digits for Passing shows thus far, but there’s already an excitement around what they’re capable of. Seeing them in the flesh, one is witness to that outstanding potential being realised.
Up next are Worriers, who are in the midst of their first-ever tour of Australia and are weeks away from the release of their third album, Survival Pop. They’ve brought vinyl copies with them – just because they could – and there’s a clear excitement about getting to play these songs for the first time. “Future Me” is rousing and rollicking, while “Gaslighter” takes a slower, more rhythmic turn and explores new territory for the melodic punk outfit. Older cuts like “Cruel Optimist” and “They/Them/Theirs” also make their way into the mix, garnering a strong response from the mostly-unfamiliar audience. Those in the know were always certain of the impression the band would have on Australian audiences, but it’s something else entirely to watch as more and more ears prick up and the band are given the attention they deserve.
It’s as full a room as the Red Rattler has ever had by the time Camp Cope take to the stage. They’ve just had an absolutely mammoth week of headlining Poison City Weekender and taking Worriers around the east coast of Australia for some comfortably sold-out shows. This is set to be their last show in Sydney until 2018, serving as a fond farewell to their instant-classic debut LP. It begins the way nearly every single show of theirs has done since their 2015 inception: The unmistakable bass riff of “Done,” the big-swinging kick-in of the drums and the audience singing the song back to the trio louder than the PA itself. It’s very, very easy to see the impact that Camp Cope has had on its captive audience, and the full room watching on inspires nothing short of admiring awe. A second LP awaits, but only a single new song is played tonight. It plays off a similar musical dynamic between the three, but the aggression and swell of emotion that’s thrown into the cathartic lyrics (Sample: “Now tell the dead man/That you’re the one dying/You prick”) indicates that there’s something brewing that may even eclipse that of the self-titled album.
With a sincere thank-you and one last rousing rendition of “Lost: Season One,” it’s bye for now to one of the country’s most beloved bands – but, of course, not forever.
– David James Young