Over the past year, Melbourne alumni Northeast Party House have made the transition from fun-loving party band into a fully-focussed musical entity following the release of their highly anticipated debut album Any Given Weekend earlier this year. It seems that simultaneously, as the band came of age in a literal sense, so too have they matured on a musical front. That is not to say however that they have dropped the “party” from their performance. The opening night of their ‘Kick Ons’ tour at Melbourne’s Shebeen proved just this; all the while reminding fans exactly where their roots lie (in partying!!).
To kick off the first night of the tour was Brisbane-local-turned-Brooklyn-transplant Wax Witches. Beginning as the solo project of Alex Wall – perhaps better known as being the front man of Bleeding Knees Club – Wax Witches’ live show was brought to life on stage with the aid of a four-piece band. Although the crowd was still sparse, this didn’t stop Wall and co. from unleashing their wall-to-wall sound: that is, one filled with wailing vocals and piercing guitars. The self-deprecating lyrics of ‘Friend Zone’, taken from their 2013 debut album Celebrity Beatings, provided a light-hearted and slightly sarcastic vibe that seemed to sum up Wax Witches’ bratty punk appeal. Like the headliners, it was clear that Wax Witches don’t take themselves too seriously; but still managed to maintain just enough focus to hold the audience’s attention for 40 minutes of hard-hitting tunes.
By the time Northeast Party House took to the stage, it was obvious that Shebeen was at its capacity. For a group who have sharpened their craft on stage for many years, it’s clear that they feel right at home in front of a large crowd. They kicked things off confidently with the appropriately titled ‘Stand Tall’, which set the atmosphere for the rest of the night with its slow build and punchy melody. It’s not hard to see how they’ve faced comparisons to bands like Foals and Bloc Party before, but their eclectic mesh of organic guitar riffs and synthesized beats combined with their laid-back attitude speaks boldly for itself. Vocalist Zach Hamilton-Reeves may only be 21 and indeed the youngest member of the band, but his unbroken concentration on stage would suggest otherwise. However, he couldn’t help but let a youthfully exuberant smile show to the crowd’s adoration.
The set progressed to their more recent offerings such as ‘The Haunted’ — perhaps one of the more solemn tracks from their debut. It was recreated with the determination of a band who have evolved alongside their fans; from catchy hooks to sharp bass lines. The crowd’s agenda was as clear as the bands: to party. The wildly anthemic crowd-favourite ‘Youth Allowance’ provided the perfect opportunity to do so later in the set. There are few things that feel more symbolic of Australian youth today than an entire room shouting; “let’s all get on youth allowance, let’s all lose our shit allowance”. Barely a person in the room was still during this song, with the audience feeding off the band’s electrifying energy.
Returning to the stage for an encore after what felt like merely an intermission, Northeast Party House delivered their complete electronic reworking of Violent Soho’s ‘Covered In Chrome’. While the song in its original form takes on a guitar-fuelled, raw garage rock vibe, the cover performed initially for Triple J’s ‘Like A Version’ has seen it transform into a fast-paced, pulsing festive anthem – with the band all but making it their own. Bringing the night to a close in their signature raucous fashion, Northeast Party House showed their fans that although their sound has matured, they haven’t relinquished their party ways completely. The following day the band cheekily posted on their Facebook: “Only one show in and I’ve already lost my phone, wallet, passport and the respect of my bandmates…” So it’s safe to assume they aren’t hanging up the party-boots anytime soon.