Updated: Jul 29, 2022
A night of impressive fashion fell upon us at the Fortitude Valley Music Hall with 3 premiere pop punk baddies playing for us eager little audients. First up we had Those Who Dream, sailing from the shark-infested bays of Perth, W.A. Then we got bedazzled by the lemonade ADHD of Melbourne's Between You & Me. And finally the headline heavyweight defenders, Short Stack showed us how it's done. The venue is spacious & moody, with dark silks and warm honey lights. Ambient, with a sprawling end-stage before us. It is here that we lay our scene. Blink 182, The Ramones & Fallout Boy play over the speakers, with the crowd sheepishly singing along and mingling. The house music cuts, the lights dim and our first players take to the stage.
A ground-shattering synth intro blares as Those Who Dream descend. The drummer skips out from the shadows, springs over to the kit and we begin. They are a 2-piece, with nary more than guitar and drums to eke out the music, and eke it they do. Some sort of All Time Low safe pop assaults us, with a sultry twist. They're tight. And they whip out a heavy guitar slam bridge. They're certainly not stage-shy, pumping up the crowd and working the room effortlessly. Next they give us a sweet intro and a slow build. The guitarist x vocalist has got moves though, and he grabs the mic & goes walkabout.
How do they create SO much sound though? The next little ditty starts with a chug and the hottest hits of 2008 and we gobble it up. So Fresh! You can hear the influences, but they've refined them. They flit seamlessly from breakdown to DnB, and always with the hypeman audience interaction of the singer leading the charge. They get us singing with some call & response, and the drummer is ever the metronome.
"Once again, we're Those Who Dream, we're from Perth, W.A. You're looking good! You're looking sexy tonight. Let's hear it for live music in 2022! We're gonna give it all we've got tonight!"
They slow down next with an emotive roarer and the whole crowd's feeling it. The flow. The smoothness. The MC mastermind hypeman. It reminds me of some Day To Remember shit, but clean. Hands up in the air, and the crowd goes all Patrick Sway-zing. It's cool to see all the cherubic all-ages faces really getting into it. But nothing can prepare us for what happens next.
The swap. The drummer jumps on the tom and the guitarist jumps on the main kit. Some multi-instrumental shit happens from the rhythmic freakazoids. "Who's never heard of us?" They ask. We have now. They move into a new song, "One of My Kind," with a swelling intro & intimate crowd-teaser vox. A weird space angel pre-chorus and mechanical jungle drums, with a dollop of Travis Barker cymbal smattering. The guitar comes in for the 2nd verse. Staccato slashes lead into a big progression and the crowd is incited. Hands together for a surprisingly hard breakdown, a big ol' stompy chonker and a guitar face-melter solo to rolling applause. The drummer goes back to the kit and they drop the bad news:
"Just a disclaimer - Something came up tonight. Fuck TNT! They fucked up our delivery. There is absolutely NO merch tonight. They stole our shirts man, that's not cool."
The crowd chants 'Fuck TNT' as they move into their last song. Our ears prick as we hear a deeper guitar register. The bass has arrived. I do love a Royal Blood bass & drum romp, and they go all Willy Wonky and the Chocolate Funktory on our asses. They slap us in the face with a BIG chorus and use the whole stage. The mind wizard is tuning strings on the fly, and a flying jumpkick into the breakdown chorus. Actually doicent. They get us all down for the jumpy jump, and bass & drum take us to the dark side, and we fkn gun it. We take flight. A foot between a thousand feet and floor. A beautiful doomy goodbye, and they've made some fans on the East coast tonight. The lights pick up and Tom DeLonge's voice joins us over the house speakers again.
Next off the ranks is Between You & Me. They're a 5-piece, dishing out uplifting party pop fruitbowl punch. The drummer has the biggest pecs around and the audience brings hands together. The singer's got springs in his boots, sporting twirls and mic-leans and 2-metre tall jumps in his repertoire. He begins the sermon:
"This morning was a bit sketchy for me. I had a Red Rooster wrap. I was squirting out my arse hole. A bit TMI, maybe..."
And so it begins, with a jumping crowd. They go full Fallout Boy mega-vocals and the guitarist takes a title shot for jump champion with a frisky mule lunge. The drummer is doing octopus cosplay with his arms a-blur and the singer get's us at war with gravity again on the count of "1, 2, jump, JUMP!" The next song begins with some palm-mute harmonics and some choppy chop on the guitar and the second chorus takes us on a date with some drum & bass gruel. We even get an uplift piano section. The crowd is a sea of hands, and the bassist goes all Happy Feet on us.
The band has some really funny Mark & Tom rapport, and I make my way to the sweat section. It's time to go on Pit Patrol. We've got jumpies, thwoin' hands and a summery guitar flange distort solo. The energy is palpable, and floorboards pulpable. The drums syncopate our face in to resounding applause. "TAKE IT OFF" the crowd decrees, and the singer begrudgingly obliges. Bare chested, tatted & eyelash batted, we begin our second act with a slow sludge drums & bass intro. Tight, doggies. The crowd starts singing louder than the speakers. Ghetto Timothy Charlemagne asks us "Where's my circle pit at? Let's get some energy up in this shit!" And they did. Ten thousand volts injected directly into our craniums get us jumping again.
This is their last song. And the crowd fills their lungs up. Huge yells in the chorus from Charlemagne and they open up a PG-rated wall of death. He jumps in. He's fkn done it. Astonishing. He's walking on heads and they leave us in the afterglow. Finito.
And now for our main course. Short Stack. You just can't rain on their parade. It begins with the obligatory "Stacey's Mom" singalong to the speakers while we wait and The Stacks do their sound check. The crowd swells to 2000 bursting capacity and 'Teenage Dirtbag Baby' comes on the stereo. This is the biggest singalong so far. The lights go dark and start to strobe. A cacophonous entrance and a light show feast for the senses. The band may have cut off the fringes, but they're still sharp on the sound. The singer reigns over all the stage, and rips out some surprisingly heavy vocals for just a second. And then we move into the next ditty. 'House of Wolves' jungle drums mixed with the 'Lust For Life' Iggy riff, but... happy?
The Bandana Baddie on bass pops off and we're all singin' along. They're an interesting band. You can hear Sum 41 riffs and Blink 182 chord progressions, but then in an instant they'll whip out some ridiculous guitar wizard solo out of nowhere. They are masters of the call & response, and get the whole audience involved. The singer & bassist are a comedy duo and get us all laughing our tiddies off. They get us chanting "Fuck you Andy!" and we find out it's his birthday. A sporadic slurred rendition of 'Happy Birthday' for the Bandana Baddie, and they hype up their new song. Some huge drums stabs to a Veronica's 'Untouched' bop and the insatiable crowd gets hot n bothered. All of Brisbane jumps.
Some fine trigonometry on the guitar, and our brows are sufficiently raised. The Birthday Boy chimes in to hype his brother out "You guys hear the musicianship there? That was some goooowed musicianship." They throw blow-up balls into the crowd and go into an emotive little number. Chuggy chug into quiet sections, broken up by HUGE screamy bois from the singer, a huge break and then a guitar bridge. He's actually got some fingers on the lad.
"I'm gonna make you guys a deal. We're gonna play a really cool song, and you're gonna dance like you've never danced before."
They rock it out, with the bassist on the move. The crowd drooling, and the singer belting. And then the true climax of the evening. The mighty drum solo. Straight in, with a 'CELLZ' MF DOOM-type opening, some hectic dubstep Crossfaith shit. The ground's shaking and the audience is swooning. The buzzroll and build into the omega breakdown blowing us a new mind-hole.
Up next is 'We Dance To A Different Disco, Honey,' and the interact wizards build the crowd into a frenzy. Thunder drums and everyone creams their jorts. Activate the slow clap, and we move into a ballad for the next one. Some sensitive stuff, before "Andy. They want you to do a shoey. Andy's a pussy."
And then back into the sultry sad smokey eyelined guitar. "This song goes out to my friend Andy, because he's a wet blanket." The whole crowd sings. It builds and builds and builds and then the drums kick in. The whole crowd goes jumping jort snorter and some minds were lost. Some squiggly guitar scales into a goodbye. And then the encore.
Skull symbol logo leering in the background, they reassemble:
"We're gonna play a song we haven't played since we were in high school."
A cover. 'All The Small Things.' And don't we fuckin' know it! The blow-up balls get a work out and the whole crowd does a sing-a-ding-dong-ling-along. Their final song sweeps the boards next, with the singer ditching the guitar and going full-frontal. So animated, he's still got gas in the tank and the drummer sweats endurance. It's 'Sway, Sway Baby!' and the audience is frothing out of their little minds. The jorts have been creamed. THE JORTS HAVE BEEN CREAMED.
And with that, the crowd was well served.
Many hi-fives for the bands and may the piercing screech of two thousand fans never leave their ears. You gave us a night to remember and I'm glad it finally happened. This gig was 3 years in the making, and really highlights how back-on-track the music industry is after The Ronies came and went. WE BOUNCIN' BACK BOIIIIIIIIIIIS. A huge shout out to Darcy Goss for the photos and Frontier Touring for making it happen.
Those Who Dream:
Between You & Me: