-By Luke Keatinge
Saturday night saw The Bird hosting the launch party for Hip Priest’s debut album, Christmas Day at McDonalds. The energetic indie rockers were supported by a killer lineup of local talent that included Pool Boy, Regular Boys, PUCK and Verge Collection.
Pool Boy kicked the night off, captivating the early crowd with their swirling synths and haunting vocals. Their minimalistic eerie electronica set a seductively melancholic mood for the evening, with tracks like Palace and TV a showcase of this band’s uniquely atmospheric sound.
Regular Boys were up next, playing a bunch of songs off their EP Have a Go and bringing us into a realm of sounds completely their own. Their music evokes something to the degree of dreamy indie rock mixed with a carefree Australiana sound, coated in loose, drone-y guitars and scratchy riffs. Their off-kilter lyrics channel a kind of Courtney Barnett quirkiness and simplicity, delivered through monotone and almost satirically doleful vocals that work really well. These guys gathered quite the crowd given their early set, and the playful Cool Toy was a standout, as well as the super catchy Bad Behaviour. This young five-piece have a really distinct, laid-back sound that I really like.
The third set of the night saw PUCK jump on stage, with the three piece diving straight into their anthemic fusion of guitars and drums as soon as the lights dimmed. Whereas the other bands of the night can’t be so easily classed under any particular genre, these guys are a metal band, plain and simple. And they do it so well. With tracks like Eye of the Day and Knowing Better from their self-titled EP, their crashing, booming drums, distorted guitar riffs and head banging bass-lines hit you with an aggression and ferocity that you can’t help but move to. It’s powerful, almost primal stuff, bolstered by vocals from drummer Liam Young that can be clean and refined, or just as gritty as their instruments.
Verge Collection were the last supports of the night, and their easy-listening, Aussie indie pop got the crowd cheering and smiling just as much as the band. Obvious set standouts were Feel Bad Songs, Class of ‘09 and Our Place, which had the whole crowd singing along to its chorus “And you’re still on your P plates!”. But the cheeriness of these big songs was balanced with a few surprisingly heavy numbers, showing that they’re no one trick pony. These guys have such an infectious optimism underlining their songs that just makes you happy. But as well as this, there’s a genuine relatability there. Their lyrics are products of everyday thoughts and ideas; slices of Aussie life told through super catchy melodies and big, bright guitars. They have a real endearing likeability to their music; an honest, Aussie charm. Just straight up good vibes.
Finally it was time for Hip Priest to take the stage and close out the night. But before the quartet began their set, guitarist Axel delivered a memoriam to the late, great Prince by reading from an oversized copy of Purple Rain: Prince and the Revolution. An unexpectedly comical but fittingly respectful way to open their set, Priest then went straight into their high energy jams. Opening with Orion off the new album, the intensity was set instantly. The set that followed included tracks old and new, delivered through an enthusiastic storm of guitar pedals, delays, slides and reverb. A passionate set that always had the crowd moving, each song was a perfect display of the band’s raw sound. Standouts for me have to be Bath Salts, a twisted love song with a great melodic hook, and Bamalam, the short but sweet opening track of the album that’s 94 seconds of non-stop goodness. Their music and live show are reminiscent of that fun, 90s carefree indie rock feel of bands like Weezer or Circa Waves. Whatever you wanna call it (the band themselves opt for terms like ‘deli meat pop’ and ‘dad rock’) their music is killer.
With a super fun main set, along with entertaining banter ranging from missing Dads to missing Blastoises, Hip Priest’s launch party was a great showcase for a bunch of talented Perth bands, and an impressive debut album.
Photo Credit: Amber Bateup Photography