Queuing in the rain is never the best start to any gig experience, but that is what several hundred pumped-up students and I do before being welcomed into the garish, retina-burning interior of Oh Hello! nightclub. Pumping beats, two-metre tall He-Man cartoons on the walls, and multicoloured lamps suspended from the ceiling just about describes our surroundings for the evening. This is a student event, so free and/or cheap stuff is a must; the freebies coming in the form of popcorn and fairy floss, and the cheap stuff involving drinks promotions, helping us to forget the weather and anticipate a great night of music.
First on the bill is Sydney pop duo Palindromes, except… nothing happens. There is some movement of people on stage that looks to be them setting up, but not a note is played, and we left to contend with the DJ’s seemingly-endless supply of indie remixes. Time drifts by without a hint of the opening band, unless I was so absorbed in the adventures of our camp hero from Castle Grayskull and watching Arnie pump iron on the big screens that I missed them – in which case I’d appreciate anyone letting me know if they are any good, or indeed what the f… happened.
Over an hour after Palindromes are meant to start, Tourism take the stage and lift the energy level in the room immediately with their engaging blend of indie guitar pop and cheeky north-of-England attitude. Lead singer Joe sings in his distinctively-charming Derbyshire accent and his four-piece band play tight, quirky guitar tunes in the style of early Arctic Monkeys, with a hint of the melodies of cult Liverpool band The Las. “We don’t have to go to school tomorrow!” Joe announces to the guys and girls at the front, much to their appreciation, before guitarist Adrian vomits on his guitar without losing his massive grin. Tourism obviously weren’t thinking of Google when choosing their band name, but they are worth checking out if you can find their website among all the holiday promotions and flight offers.
It’s also at this point that one skinny tie-wearing hipster and I have the following exchange:
Hipster: Is this Art Of Sleeping?
Me: No, it’s Tourism.
Me: They’re called Tourism, The Art Of Sleeping’s support band!
Hipster: Does the support band come before or after Art Of Sleeping?
Me: *palm face*
Thankfully The Art Of Sleeping step up and inject some class into proceedings and effortlessly provide the highlight of the night. The Brisbane five-piece’s dreamy, measured, folk-rock sound instantly demands attention, and they have the melodies, instrumentation, and great choruses to keep you enthralled until they decide they are done.
They fire off two up-tempo numbers to get the energy of the audience up, with second song ‘Voodoo’ sounding particularly fantastic before ‘Like A Thief’ slows things down and allows us to fully appreciate Caleb Hodges’ voice, before he thanks the home crowd for coming and tells us how great it is to be back in Brisbane.
Hodges then introduces the next song – a cover of Neil Young’s ‘Cowgirl In The Sand’ – by saying “this song normally has a twenty-minute guitar solo, but we cut it to eighteen”. They do the song justice, and guitarist Patrick Silver peels off a nice-sounding solo.
Penultimate song ‘Above the Water’ – The Art Of Sleeping’s most recent single – soars in all kinds of epic ways, before closer and Triple J favourite ‘Empty Hands’ ups the quality even more and provides the perfect finish. The grateful band show their appreciation and invite fans to speak to them after the show, before leaving the small Oh Hello! stage, and the DJ starts up again.
The Art Of Sleeping undoubtedly have the quality to make it, and deserve to be playing in bigger and better venues. Personally, I would love to see them headline somewhere like the Zoo or the Tivoli, with their own appreciative audience in tow. At their present rate of ascent we shouldn’t have to wait too long.
P.S. – Fellow AAA reviewer Kirsten was at the same venue last week, and mentioned the smell as being a strange mix of good and bad. The burnt sugar odour from one side of the room meets the acidic vomit stench from the toilets at the other, and joins with the normal beer-and-squashed-lemon-slice bar scent to form quite an eye-watering mix. This is probably more information than you need to know.