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LIVE REVIEW: RedHook @ Crowbar: Fierce, Fiery, And Full Of Surprises

Updated: May 12, 2021

Credit: Kyle Davis

Following the recent release of their debut EP, ‘Bad Decisions’, RedHook has hit the road in celebration. However, the band presents themselves with more than just an EP in hand, but with a contagious energy that not only creates a show of surprises, sweat, and showstopping tunes but fosters an inescapable feeling of joy to all those in the crowd. Even with an earlier session under their belt, RedHook’s late Sydney show cemented the band as a must-see live act, pouring all they had into the night and creating a fan-centered spectacle that was sure to be remembered by all!

Taking place at Sydney’s beloved Crowbar, this was my first gig since the venue announced their dire crowdfunder campaign, needing a necessary $100,000 in order to keep their doors open after the many ramifications and gut-punches from COVID-19. After seeing their counterpart in Brisbane already shut down, this call-out became more than essential. Achieving their monetary goal through bidding on musical items and donations, RedHook’s gig only cemented the prominence of such an important venue to not only Sydney nightlife, but as a home for music, and music lovers alike. With their mysterious ambiance, dedication to music, and intimate concert room, it would be near impossible to imagine life without it- but gigs, such as RedHook’s double feat on Saturday begin to show that this venue is not going anywhere, anytime soon!

Opening the night was alt-metal band, Wolf Creek. From the second the band marched on stage, they owned it. Igniting the room with an intense passion and energy, it was clear to see that whether there were five people or two thousand people in the room, Wolf Creek perform with a love of music and a passion to do justice to their sound in mind. Frontman, Chase Bosward, in particular, stole the show- rounding up the crowd by commonly abandoning his post on stage to charge up the floor, actively involving crowd participation, and truly leaving all he had in the traces of his many movements of the night. Playing a collection of their own tracks, Wolf Creek displayed the duality, and playability of their recorded music, and its ability to harness an undeniable amount of energy live. However, to many, their intense feat culminated in a showstopping cover of Bring Me The Horizon and Yungblud’s smash hit, ‘Obey’. Of course, collaborating on their own terms, Wolf Creek brought out star of the night, Emmy Mack, in order to represent the same dynamic between Oliver and Dom within the original song. Such a well-selected cover certainly got the audience off their feet and constructed a high-energy environment that was set to be maintained for the sets to come. Wolf Creek submerged every minute of their performance with a need to impress, and fulfilled this by performing a non-stop set filled with passion and intensity; the markings of what was to be an entrancing opening that defined the rest of the night.

Next to take the stage was a standout supergroup, Vilify. Arriving on stage with a subtle apprehension- elucidating that the night’s set of shows counted as their first-ever live performances, in a way, Vilify abolished any set of standards people would have formulated. From the very first note unleashed, it was clear these standards were not needed anyway, because they were only there to be demolished. With passion, intensity, and a point to prove, Vilify was nothing short of exceptional, putting on a performance that was genuine and perfected to the core. Commanding the room, Vilify used the stage they stood on to solidify their soon upcoming live presence, and more importantly, to offer their body of work to the audience at hand; that being a body of work that is only building. At the start of this particular band’s journey, Vilify has shown more than huge potential but has proven to be an upcoming fighting force within both the Australian music and live show scene. Even after their departure from the set, the band left a lasting impression on many in the room, and I hope we continue to see Vilify foster this same passion within their future endeavors.

Of course, the third time's a charm! The night’s third act saw the moment we were all waiting for, that, of course, being RedHook’s celebratory set; a night dedicated to ‘Bad Decisions’ (and of course a few sneaky, old tracks too)! Bursting with energy and anticipation from the side stage, as soon as the lights dimmed, the band assumed their positions for the incredible night ahead. The band, in particular Emmy, holds such an alluring and enticing stage presence; a mixture of overtly creepy and entrancingly haunting! As the show proceeded, many fans began to get their first look at the EP from a live perspective! Without fail, the band captured the same unique energy and transferred it to the stage, putting on a performance that was not only true to themselves but allowed the EP to shine in its many facets and dual capabilities! Within the EP, RedHook skillfully showed off their many faces; aggression in songs like ‘Kamikaze’ and vulnerability within songs like ‘Alien’- proving to be some of their most compositionally and emotionally jarring work yet. Within the live setting, this contrast not only remained but created a showstopping diversity to both the setlist and energy created. ‘Kamikaze’ saw earlier performers, Vilify, take the stage to command the audience with brute force and a mesmerizing scream-off with their respective, talented vocalists. ‘Alien’ constructed a sentimental tone to the night that for a moment, submerged the audience into the room- the reality of being there rather than being just a crowd, a moment to think among the carefully constructed chaos- a magical feeling! Aided by glorious transitions, the night weaved through many emotions, vibes, and energies, but all culminated in the celebration of this amazing body of work.

As a long-time fan, this show also created something so special in the sense that it truly was a fan-orientated event. Where to begin… The endless surprises began with RedHorn, a brass ensemble made up of some familiar faces from local bands that amplified the beautiful EP opening track, ‘I Don't Keep Up’. You could just tell the band was having fun, and this too radiated to everyone down below- a feeling of joy brought upon by some bros and their brass! Another notable moment was Emmy’s first stage dive! Skipping past our little practice run, this monumental occasion took place during the band's final song, a cover! Etched into my head is the phrase,

“They say you should never end with a cover, but they've never heard our cover of ‘Guerrilla Radio’”

Presenting one of the most insane covers of such a massive song to take on, RedHook unified the crowd through a universal understanding of the weight this track held- not only back then, but of course to maintain a good reputation for RedHook shows! Matching the energy of some earlier songs such as ‘Cure 4 Psycho’, the night ended with a mosh heavier than ever!

Still, I want to take you back to just a few songs before, to perhaps one of the most fun mosh experiences myself, and I'm sure many others have had. A pillow fight? During the existential and self-reflective anthem that is also the namesake for the EP, ‘Bad Decisions, the entire lineup of the night joined the band up on stage, hurling a dozen pillows into the sea of people beneath them. It was hard to look at the stage at all of this song, but it was so easy to be present; enjoying the night with the people around you and having so much fun surrounded by the music we all love. Trudging out of the venue, walking on a floor that looked like snow was a peculiarly heartwarming moment, and truly was a mark of one of the most chaotic, but meaningful shows I had ever attended.

After the release of their astonishing EP, my standards for RedHook were admittedly extremely high. However, without fail, the band exceeded all expectations to present a show that was fun, engaging, but most importantly, true to themselves. Tying it all together was of course the incredible lineup, Wolf Creek and Vilify both marking the night with their own personal touch and understanding of the duty they had ahead of them. Each band created unmistakable energy that built such a positive feeling surrounding the show, making it truly special. Both on and off stage, RedHook have proven, and continue to prove, they are a major force to be reckoned with, and will undoubtedly continue to rule our stages (and earphones) for many years to come! Bring on the next RedHook show!

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