Since rising from the ashes of the Mustang Bar (shudders), Woolly Mammoth in the heart of Fortitude Valley is quickly becoming one of the best places to catch gigs in Brisbane. It’s a balmy Friday night and they’re hosting one of the final dates of the East Coast EP-launching Barely Moving tour of heavy psych masters Upskirts tonight with some special guests.
Local quartet Shady Bliss kick proceedings off very, very nicely, their new single Deluge is a gorgeous instrumental track that they mesmerise the modest early evening crowd with and old standards like The Clouds Are Almost Over and Monster are solid psych jams with some subtle grunge undertones that provide a really nice and laidback start to the evening. I’m lucky enough to meet and have a brief chat with one of the band members (I think?) over a cigarette afterwards and he asked me to give a shoutout to keyboardist/vocalist Chrissa. Hey Chrissa, you’re alright.
Some more Brisbane residents in Twin Haus are up next. They released their debut EP Waxen Myriad in March of last year, headlined a ripper of a Psych Night earlier this year and are known as being an outstanding live act, the crowd understandably beginning to swell in number and sway along to some more stellar psych rock. Their latest single Blood Tapes is mind-bendingly good, burning along very softly before creeping up and positively chokeslamming us all into the dirt with some monster riffs that are even more gargantuan live than on record.
They have shades of Foals in a lot of their music, I personally loved both Night Locust and old standard Lumberjack Loveshack for this reason, and the bouncing and upbeat Blackwater from their EP is a total crowd-pleaser as well. By the end of their rather rapturously received set the dancefloor is getting just a little cramped, so thank God we have a little bit of breathing room for a beer and a dart in between Haus and Upskirts.
I’ll be completely honest, I’d never actually heard of Sydneysiders and tonight’s headliners Upskirts before about 2pm this afternoon when the Friday beers were frosty and my night was wide open. All it took was one track (see below) to have me hooked and incredibly keen to catch them live as well as incredibly remorseful that I’d been sleeping on such a fantastic up and coming Australian band.
The Woolly Mammoth area isn’t exactly an aircraft hangar in size and so the Godzilla riffs of songs like Mind’s A Burden and the aforementioned Where are just about shaking the walls and certainly rattling the teeth of everyone in attendance, an experience I’ll never not enjoy.
The tracks from their new EP are a solid collection of psychedelic rock. Much more progressive and juiced up in both size and scope, they translate to a live environment ever so nicely and the Upskirts boys know how to get a crowd going with a well-timed jam here and there.
It’s a reverb heavy set that stands many a hair on end The fuzzy solo from their latest single Open Yourself To The Sky has everyone in attendance in awe before we’re all kicked back into clarity with the ten-tonne guitars that close the song. Lo-fi slow burner Nothing Happens In Roseville is an auditory treat, dreamily filtered vocals over some initially sleepy guitars, progressing hypnotically and building to an absolute hammering crescendo.
The crowd enjoys every moment of it and so do I. The chemistry between the band is easily palpable, the musical gifts of each member interacting so very fluidly to create one heck of a sound. If Upskirts weren’t on your radar already then live shows like this will catapult them straight onto it (and if you want to get to know them a little more personally, we got the hot tip on their favourite tunes). Hats off to the bands and to Woolly Mammoth for a bloody good night of psych!
Barely Moving is out now via Inertia Access