The last time I saw Children Collide perform in Adelaide, I left before the gig ended because it got way too rowdy and I couldn’t be arsed having to watch my back constantly, quite frankly. The music was great, however, and so here I am again, having fought off the rain and a serious case of mid-week laziness, waiting patiently inside Fowler’s Live for the now-duo to perform.
Adelaide’s Bad//Dreems are on tour with Dune Rats and the Children Collide boys nationally and honestly, their set was one of the worst I’ve seen in a long time. I’ve always hated the audio mixing that’s gone on in Fowler’s in the past and tonight was no exception – the amount of distortion and audio imbalances was ridiculous and really brought the band down. As a bunch of musicians, Bad//Dreems are your run-of-the-mill rock infused indie 20-somethings whose stage presence stems mainly from the way they thrash their respective instruments. The bassist and the drummer were possibly the most entertaining members of the band to watch, as they drove the set home with some awesome percussion and bass lines. As a whole though, I didn’t really find anything about Bad//Dreems that stood out and made them unique, which is odd, considering the amount of hype and support the band has garnered on a local level over the past few months.
I’ve always had the misfortune of missing out on seeing Dune Rats whenever they’ve been in town, but everything I’d heard about the duo pointed to some image of teenagers rocking out in their parents’ garage and fucking shit up. Considering that they’ve also announced a series of ‘secret’ house shows on this tour as well, I figured I was in for a good time tonight. The duo battled with the same mixing issues that had plagued Bad//Dreems, but instead of letting it tear them down, Dune Rats simply took the opportunity to shred on guitar and thrash drums until the audience couldn’t distinguish between what was intended and what wasn’t, music-wise. The crowd danced and moshed along happily as the duo worked through popular tunes “Pogo” and “Wooo!”, the latter of which showed off the impressive wailing skills of Danny Beusa. As I tried to pinpoint any other artist Dune Rats reminded me of, they launched into an attempt of a cover of “Blister In The Sun” by The Violent Femmes. Dune Rats have that bratty, reckless garage rock feel down pat and while they are actually decent musicians, a lot of their pull comes from how much fun they bring to their stage shows, in a similar way to the lads from Bleeding Knees Club, say.
So, as the stage is reset for the headliners, a beeping starts filtering throughout the joint and the – now sizeable – crowd is told to evacuate because something has tripped the fire alarms. I would just like to point out here the amusing nature of the scene; God forbid there was an actual fire tonight because it seemed like people were more worried about the fact they had to leave their fresh beers inside. Won’t someone think of the children?
Anyway. After a brief interlude outside, resulting in drunken applause for the fire brigade who spent a grand total of ten minutes inside, the gig was back on. Children Collide emerged to rapturous applause and after a blistering opening number where Johnny Mackay and Heath Crawley engaged in a musical duel, it was clear that I was seeing the best set I think I’ve seen Children Collide play in a long while. Though they sounded great at The Gov the last few times, I hate to say it, but I think Fowler’s provided a better setting for the band tonight. The sound was tight and the flow of songs was near on flawless. The crowd was gagging for every guitar riff and vocal Mackay threw out during the evening; the circle pit which began somewhere at the start of “Skeleton Dance” and wound down during the epic sing along that was “Farewell Rocketship” was testament to the fact that the Adelaide crowd was not ready to pull out early, even if it was a Wednesday night.
The new material Children Collide played sounded great; I love the groove based numbers on Monument and clearly, both Mackay and Crawley relished the opportunities to smash them out live. On tour with them is Mitch McGregor on drums and he did equally as well in taking up Ryan Caesar’s spot behind the kit. If there had been any doubt as to whether or not the band would survive Caesar’s departure and Mackay’s relocation to New York, it’s definitely quashed by now – tonight we saw a new phase of Children Collide and they’re as powerful and relentless, musically, than ever before.