Timothy Carroll and Oscar Dawson of Holy Holy stand to the side of the Gold Coast’s tiny Elsewhere stage, and down a tequila shot with the security guard – all while an eager and unaware crowd wait patiently before an empty stage. Midway through an epic eighteen-stop tour, it must take some kind of fuel to deliver night after night. Carroll turns to Dawson and says, “Can you give me a slap?” Dawson obliges; winds back his arm, strikes both cheeks with an open palm. It’s a surreal little piece of showmanship before launching into their set. I look around to see if anyone else has noticed, but the crowd is entrenched in the smoke, drifting from behind the drum kit, like a cigarette-filled club circa 2005.
The duo are joined on stage by touring drummer Ryan Strathie, bassist Graham Ritchie and keyboard player/producer Matt Redlich. The set kicks off without fanfare or introduction, launching straight into scorching single History. Instantly, Dawson’s stellar guitar work stands out; it’s even more enthralling than what we hear on their recent maiden album, When The Storms Would Come. On stage, through speakers, it’s got the wailing magnificence of Led Zeppelin or Fleetwood Mac.
As the smoke clears, the crowd howls, and we’re taken to milder territory with meandering ballad If I Were You. In our recent interview with Carroll, he revealed the song’s prophetic significance. Like a premonition, life imitated art – Carroll penned the track, and later moved away to Tasmania. He sings with conviction, digging deep into those inner caverns of emotions and memories. Abstract in nuance but clear in tone, he might just be one of the most stirring live voices in Australian rock.
A Heroine is explosive, with its throbbing melody reminiscent of Crazy Horse. Meanwhile, recent single Sentimental and Monday garners a big response, with the audience cheering wildly at the song’s soaring peak.
Mammoth single You Cannot Fall For Love Like a Dog closes the set with more than seven glorious minutes of huge guitars and a sweaty dance floor. Before they have even unplugged the crowd begin to chant for an encore, and as there is no real back stage to disappear to, the band went straight for it, with a rendition of Neil Young’s Southern Man.
There are bands and there are shows, and then there are moments that remind you just what music is supposed to be.