As put eloquently by word wizard Will Wagner “It’s the night of champions, not the night of emergency dental work”. From the moment one entered The Corner Hotel there was a certain atmosphere that overcame you, that attributes to the fact you are very likely to experience what was lovingly tokened “The Night of Champions”. First to whisk audiences into another realm and heightening the anticipation which floated in the air like an aural lovechild between punk and folk were Melbourne’s own FLOUR. Effortlessly demanding audiences attention from the get go, their set paved the way for the anticipation fuelled night that lay ahead.
An ambient ringing entered the bandroom that transitioned quickly to a thunderously playful punk-pop harmony. Offering a certain teen-movie-meets-nostalgia vibes, The Side Kicks (hailing from Ohio) drew on the roots of punk-pop while adding their own ambient fluency that filtered their entire set. Joined on stage for their final song by tour mates alike, equipped with sunglasses and Tamborine’s, their set began to truly bring together a sense of brotherhood among the bands, ending with an energetic peak leaving audiences wanting more.
Queue here an expertly juxtaposed and a contrastingly dirty rap song, energy levels picked up right where they left-off, catapulting fans into a set fuelled with unrelenting vigor. Between the drummer doting a pair of pink love heart sunglasses, through to the vocalist channelling the intensity of that kid in your class you were especially nice to in the event one day he would snap, Andrew Jackson Jihad erupted onto the stage. With sound rooted in a particular raw urgency, audience’s undivided attention was commanded. As the room was thrown into a set that saw the vocalist staring into your very soul, they concluded their with the reappearance once more of tour mates. Andrew Jackson Jihad were swiftly joined on stage and given silver glitter smiles, to which they quickly distributed to members of the crowd. Going on to deliver a final song, the outfit left the atmosphere with an overarching sense of intensity fused equally with unity.
From showcasing an intricate plethora of punk, pop and folk, through to Andrew Jackson Jihad entering to the sound of gritty rap-the stage was set for a headliner that infamously does not disappoint. Cyndi Laupers’ timeless ballad ‘Girl’s Just Want To Have Fun’ setting the stage for The Smith Street Bands’ much-anticipated emergence. Receiving a reception you would expect from a band that have consecutively sold out date-after-date on their tour, their humbleness still rained supreme. With a sound that’s so purely Australian, The Smith Street Band never fail to deliver a set containing a cocktail of all that is good about our local alternative music. Throughout their performance the crowd seemed to unify together for every song-every word being passionately echoed back to vocalist Will Wagner.
When it came time for ‘Wipe That Shit Eating Grin Off Your Punchable Face’ a ferocious sing-a-long shook the walls of The Corner followed by interludes between songs that offered moments that reinforced their humbleness as a collective, The Smith Street Band exhibited a genuine appreciation for their fans, from looking out for injured members of the audience through to dedicating songs to their parents. The Smith Street Band’s tight performance emphasised that even with such a large momentum behind them, they haven’t lost their appreciation for what got them there along the way.