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TROPHY EYES // Better Living Through Chemicals

TROPHY EYES + Our Past Days & Ambleside – The Brightside, Brisbane – 4 February 2017

Chemical Miracle is one of those defining records for a band. Sure, Mend, Move On was a heck of a record too, but Trophy Eyes exceeded all the hype when Chemical Miracle dropped—and there sure was alotta hype, man.

So here we stand: The Brightside, Brisbane, 8pm on a Saturday night immersed in a 5-1 male-to-female crowd (that’s being generous, too), almost four months since Chemical Miracle dropped waiting to see the Drunk Punk Poets from Newcastle perform to a sell out crowd with a bunch of old friends.

By 8:30pm the first few rows were a sea of Trophy Eyes t-shirts and baseball caps. As Adelaide band Ambleside took the stage the remaining floor space quickly filled and the hardcore group immediately had the front-row-devotees fired up. Within a few songs the blood was pumping, sweat pouring and fists flying; vocalist Daniel Stevens was even confident enough to throw the mic out, which worked in his favour—the few dedicated pitheads cooperative.

I bailed after about half of their set to the courtyard. From outside, through the dense brick walls of The Brightside, buried underneath the sound of passing traffic and nearby conversations, Ambleside sounded a lot better: I didn’t have to listen to those unrelenting, untamed vocals, though the echoing bass lines and distortion made quite an ambient shoegaze soundtrack from the courtyard. They weren’t bad; they just have a lot of opportunity to become a much better and distinctive band. It was too early for all the aggression of Ambleside, but in the best way possible, they sure as shit made everyone realise how great Trophy Eyes were going to be.

Back inside for Our Past Days outta Sydney: half way through their second song and the pit had doubled in size, there was still a line up to get in and the smell of sweat and spilt alcohol was slowly filling up the venue. They’ve played with Trophy Eyes before, and it’s easy to see why they brought ‘em along on this tour: they’re fun. Straight up easycore, baby, and the crowd love it.

They look like your cliché pop-punk band, but have enough balls in their breakdowns and melody in their hooks they aren’t the least bit cliché. Well, not as much as you originally thought. Sadly, you can’t reinvent the wheel. I’ll never be Lester Bangs and Our Past Days will never be Set Your Goals. But we can still pretend.

Their set runs smooth as Vaseline on a baby’s bum and their blend of pop of hardcore glide the energy of the show towards your standard jump-up-and-down pop punk pit; the crowd desperately reaching for the mic, shouting lyrics back. Punters were throwing themselves into it, completely content to be covered in other people’s sweat, swapping their war-torn, drenched t-shirts for dry, new ones at the merch table.

On wax Floreani sounds clean, polished—still raw, rough and raspy but scrubbed up and produced. Tonight he’s full fucking throttle and draining himself; straining his vocal chords, performing raw and real with a commanding sense of grimy veracity and ravenous intensity.

Hometown heroes and old pals of Trophy Eyes, Columbus is the last support of the evening playing to an almost capacity crowd at this point. By the end of the set the venue would be full, pushing and pulling in the mosh pit, anticipating the headliners everyone was so desperate for. Until that point Columbus held down the fort and for thirty minutes, even if you thought Brisbane is kind of a shithole, you were proud of your hometown, if only because it had something to do with Columbus.

Being a three piece they’re a high-energy outfit; despite the other openers having more band members, Columbus played with an infectious, inviting velocity that galvanises the crowd and has them jumping and singing along with most every song. Playing support to Trophy Eyes for the second time in recent memory (the bands know each other pretty well—don’t forget Trophy Eyes vocalist John Floreani features on the Downsides of Being Honest, which goes off, by the way) Columbus are a perfect fit with their hard, fast and melodic punk rock anthems. They deliver a tight, professional set emitting good times and all the promise of what was to come.

Business time: the lights dim, the crowd roars and Floreani and Co. emerge from behind The Brightside’s red curtain for The Chemical Miracle Tour. And Boy Howdy, you bet it was epic, and exactly what the whole building was erupting for.

Nosebleed comes out firing, straight off the bat sending the crowd into a frenzy, as if they had been held back previously, only Trophy Eyes having the potential to unleash the mayhem. Followed by Breathe You In and Counting Sheep—three standout tracks from Chemical Miracle. They’re a powerhouse: hard and fast and loud and relentlessly churning through their set. Ain’t no rest for the wicked tonight, just savage stagediving and misguided male aggression.

On wax Floreani sounds clean, polished – still raw, rough and raspy but scrubbed up and produced. Tonight he’s full fucking throttle and draining himself; straining his vocal chords, performing raw and real with a commanding sense of grimy veracity and ravenous intensity.

He pulls the reigns in and halts the pace for his new mate Zak to take the stage and command the electric energy of 500 punks in Trophy Eyes t-shirts. And don’t we get a treat: Zak requests his girlfriend to join him on stage, and right then and there, after confessing his everlasting love for her, gets down on his knee and proposes. The crowd erupts; the lovers embrace; Floreani smiles, applauds and announces, “We don’t have any nice songs so we’ll play the nicest sounding. This is for the newlyweds” before Heaven Sent echoes through The Brightside.

Floreani works the crowd like a seasoned pro as they move to the end of the sixty minute set including In Return, a favourite from Mend, Move On, Home Is and Rain On Me. Bobbing his head up and down in his jeans, tucked in blue-striped shirt and red baseball cap, he commands call backs and is being held in the crowd like the statue of liberty; guitarists Kevin Cross and Andrew Hallett shred heavy, crisp rhythms to the driving stamina, clarity and precision of Callum Cramp’s performance on the pigskin. They play Chlorine, and with a looming anticipation we’re almost finished submitting ourselves to the sweet sucker-punches of Trophy Eyes, before Daydreamer closes out one of the better shows I’ve been to in a while in such poignant, punk style.

“Daydreamer / No ones going to love you like you love them / It’s like your old man said / It’s not your fault / You’re just different / Alone and different”

Catch Trophy Eyes on their Chemical Miracle Tour with Columbus, Our Past Days & From Oslo.

Friday February 10, Party In The Paddock, Tasmania
Friday February 17, Fowlers Live, Adelaide SA
Saturday February 18, Northcote Social Club, Melbourne VIC (SOLD OUT)
Sunday February 19, Northcote Social Club, Melbourne VIC


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