In 2010, I remember coming to Rocket to review one of my first shows in Adelaide; I didn’t know anything about the band, except that they’d just won Triple J Unearthed High, but I thought it was a good place to kick off this music journalist career of mine. What eventuated that night was a hectic few hours of blistering punk-pop music and more than a few drinks being smashed in the aftermath. Fast forward to August 2012 and I’m back at Rocket for the same band, except they’re not the same band anymore; no longer are we looking at Howl, the high schoolers, instead we’ve got Hunting Grounds, one of the country’s most promising up-and-coming young bands.
There’s barely a hundred people inside the venue when Them 9’s begin their set, but that’s to be expected with a venue (or city) like this. It’s unfortunate for everyone who missed the Ballarat trio, because they sounded great. Led by Josh Haire on guitar and vocals, Them 9’s effortlessly blend heavier rock stylings with some great blues riffs and bass lines. Gaz Harrison, also of Yacht Club DJs fame, was behind the drums tonight and proved to be quite entertaining to see playing an actual instrument. Between his furious drumming and the delivery of bass courtesy of Josh Murphy, it was really entertaining to watch the pounding bass and percussion being generated on Rocket’s small stage. Look Them 9’s up if you haven’t heard of them before, or get to the Karova Lounge early this weekend to see them in action – you won’t be disappointed.
The last time I saw Adelaide’s City Riots, a few of their boys were powering through tracks by The Beatles at a little shindig The AU Review earlier in the month. Seeing them in their element in their hometown was something I was happy to finally see, and it seemed like the decent crowd that had assembled for them enjoyed proceedings just as much. What’s noticeable about the band from the onset is that they’ve clearly been working hard while they’ve been out of the local limelight over the past year or so. Their set was tight and hinted to some great things to be featured on their forthcoming debut record. The jangly, guitar-driven indie pop which drove much of City Riots’ set was an instant hit and with Ricky Kradolfer’s distinctive vocals thrown into the mix, it’s not hard to see why they’ve been picked up for tours all over the place – the band has the potential to become a great commercial success.
Although Hunting Grounds wound up taking to the stage later than originally advertised, people didn't seem to mind at all. It’s not long into their set before guys in the crowd are hollering at them and girls are screaming for more as Hunting Grounds worked their way through a set which showcased their acclaimed debut record Flaws, as well as some other treats. The band sounds great tonight, which is an impressive feat in itself considering Rocket isn’t known for its stellar track record in audio mixing, and their blend of alternative synth-pop music comes through strongly without much hindrance. The music is forceful and it’s clear the band has their live show running like clockwork; the change overs in lead vocals/guitar duties between Michael Belsar and Lachlan Morrish are seamless, while the energy created between John Crawford and Tim Street brought everything up an extra level. The transition from the brutal vocals of Morrish to the softer harmonies of Belsar and Galen Strachan has always been a high point of Hunting Grounds’ live show and with Flaws, the band really went and made it a large part of how the songs have been written and performed. A few covers (Gorillaz’ “Clint Eastwood” and No Doubt’s “Hella Good”) plus some songs ‘by a band named Howl’ were thrown in for good measure, before Hunting Grounds wound things up with a rousing rendition of “In Colour”.
As I said before, having seen Hunting Grounds both at this stage of their career and back in the days when they were still finding their feet on a live, national stage has given me a sort of older sister perspective; watching the lads develop and evolve their musical style and creative direction has been quite interesting to watch, yet seeing them perform time after time really rams home that they’re still the same group of best mates, keen to party.