A new album, a huge festival, and a massive national tour are the items ticked off The Smith Street Band’s recent to-do list. Last years More Scared of You than You Are of Me landed two songs in the Hottest 100, and the Smithies ability to sell out so many shows on their two month, nation wide tour is a testament to their unchallengeable position as one of Australia’s biggest bands. On the 23rd their tour brought them to UOW’s Unibar with tour supports Bec Sandridge, Astonautalis, and Press Club.
Openers Press Club are a powerhouse of punky, energetic, indie rock. Exploding onto the stage frontwoman Natalie Foster didn’t stop moving the entire set, and while the rest of the band took a while to warm up once they did it was a killer set full of energy, with a great use of dynamics. Press Club are a band definitely set on delivering their set flawlessly, and they achieve this while getting the room moving along. Set highlights are easily new single Suburbia, the a capella opened Late Teens, and the high energy Crash.
Astronautalis may seem like an odd choice as a support for an indie rock show, but once he gets going it’s not hard to see why he was picked. With incredibly well produced tracks, amazing flow, and a unique take on the hip hop genre Astronautalis is like no other rapper you’ve ever seen; his live persona wouldn’t be unusual at a hardcore show. Highlights were Skeleton which ended with a microphone-less yell into the crowd, a flawless freestyle that referenced the tour and the town, and set closer Kurt Cobain.
The last support for the night was Wollongong local, indie rocker Bec Sandridge. Having played the Unibar more than any other artist on the bill Bec is acutely aware of how amazing a venue it can be. Leaving no time for anyone to catch a breath Sandridge worked up a sweat busting out tune after tune flawlessly. Harmonies are on point, drums are tight, and a broken string late in the set didn’t seem to phase Sandridge in the slightest.
Bec’s classics, High Tide, You’re a Fucking Joke, and In the Fog are all amazing tunes that get the entire crowd grooving along, but it is the set closer I’ll Never Want a BF that steals the show. The latest single is exactly the kind of indie pop that works best on stage, poppy, dancy, fun, and full of energy, and Sandridge’s live portrayal is simply perfection.
Finally the time had come for The Smith Street Band. A chant of “Smith Street” took over the crowd, and ambient guitar seeps from the stage as Wil Wagner takes to the stage, egging on the crowd’s chant. Opening with It Kills Me To Have To Be Alive the rest of the Smithies now six piece line up came to the stage with Wagner’s cry of “But I’m reaching out!”
The first thing that is noticeable with the larger Smith Street band is how much more energetic every member seems. Launching into Birthdays new members Lucy Wilson, Matt Bodiam, and the amazing Jess Locke all fit right into the mix, with the addition of harmonies bringing the crowd for a more intimate bridge, and the extra energy at the end of the song punching things back up to eleven.
The crowd was singing along to every word as Wagner and friends cruised through Surrey Drive, and Song For You. Wagner then took a serious turn to talk about his mental health issues and diagnosis’, introducing the bands I Don’t Want To Die Anymore.
The Smith Street Band are punchy and energetic, with classic I Can’t Feel My Face having the added energy of Astronautalis, who came out to join in the shouting of the chorus before delivering his own freestyle verse that works amazingly well. The Smithies then filled out a set, smashing out the absolute tunes The Arrogance of the Drunk Pedestrian, Something I Can Hold In My Hands, Surrender (which ended with a nod to The Front BottomsSkeletons), and More Scared’s Shine.
The stage then stripped down to a four piece for some old school Smith Street songs; When I Was A Boy I Thought I Was A Fish with backing vocals from bassist Fitzy, Young Drunk with a cheeky Enter Sandman intro, before finishing off the main set with a full band Passiona.
For the encore Wagner and Wilson took to the stage alone, and opened with an amazing rendition of No One Gets Lost Anymore’s Belly of Your Bedroom, the rest of the band taking to the stage for the drop. The room shook as this was followed up by Death To The Lads, with the crowd taking over vocals and Lee Hartney’s solo being a set highlight. The Smithies then closed the show with I Love Life, and from the performance on stage it was easy to see that they did.