I hadn’t seen The Medics before tonight, but over the past few months, I haven’t been able to escape reviews and the radio singing the Cairns band’s praises; safe to say, I’d been looking forward to tonight’s gig at Jive for some time. The four piece of course, have recently enjoyed many successes at this year’s National Indigenous Music Awards, with their debut record Foundations, but surveying the crowd tonight, it was clear that The Medics had a strong following of fans from way before this recent bout of recognition.
Unfortunately, I, A Man was just finishing their set when I arrived at the venue, but they had pulled an appreciative audience, which was nice to see. People were dancing instead of doing their usual ‘stand at the bar and awkwardly chat’ routine, which wasn’t too surprising, considering that Jive is the stomping ground for many an indie music lover; I, A Man, as frustrating as their name is to my inner English major, manned the stage well as openers for this evening so I took that as a sign that the rest of the live music to come would follow the same trend.
Sincerely, Grizzly, another comma-enthusiastic band, were up next and it was when they took up their instruments that I finally realised I had never seen them live before. They’re one of those bands who I’ve heard and know so much about through mutual friends over the years, so I just assumed I’d seen them perform before; tonight, the locals played a set which drew much praise from the crowd, but it felt as if they were playing it safe most of the time. The sounded good onstage and it’s quite easy to see why the band has been earning many-a support slot recently, but it wasn’t anything outstanding. They seemed to be simply running through of the motions, as it were. In any case, I’m looking forward to seeing them in a headlining capacity when they launch their EP next month.
For most of the night, Kahl Wallace and friends had been standing near me, taking in the support bands; to look at him, you wouldn’t expect him to sound as soulful and intense as he came across onstage. This is in no way a derogatory comment about The Medics’ front man’s general appearance (I think he’s quite a looker, in fact), but quite honestly, even as I watched the band generate such swelling, moody music not twenty feet in front of me, I struggled to grasp with the fact that these young guys were making such concentrated and mature music.
The breaking of one of Jhindu Lawrie’s pedals early on in the set was only one simple demonstration of the force behind The Medics’ live show; the pace and flow of the songs were kept tight (except when Charles Thomas experienced bass issues partway through) and whenever Wallace or Andrew Thomson acknowledged the crowd, it was clear that everyone in their immediate vicinity was completely under their spell. Lawrie was great to watch behind the drums, his curls flailing madly as he pounded the kit along in sync with Thomas’ brilliantly executed bass lines. Wallace’s aforementioned vocals were commanding, both passionate and coarse – he seemed reserved and shy when talking to the crowd, but as soon as he began to strum his guitar, Wallace truly came into his own. Foundations was showcasing excellently tonight, with a set consisting of hits (“Griffin”, “Beggars”) and the lesser known songs (“Ocean Eyes”, “Rust”) providing an excellent insight into the band’s debut, especially if you hadn’t given the album a proper listen yet. “Joseph”, predictably, brought the set to a close; the audience chanting along and enthusiastically groping for Lawrie and Thomas as the both partook in some audience-interactive craziness, with Lawrie climbing Jive’s balcony and Thomas taking an ambitious jump off the stack to the right of the stage.
I like going to shows where I never quite know what to expect; sometimes I’ll see a band that is all hype and no substance, and other times, I’ll wind up falling in love with the support acts who I hadn’t previously heard of. The Medics are a much hyped band sure, but they’re just as unpredictable as a live act as some of the best unheard support acts I’ve covered over the past few years. You want to listen to their music when they perform live, not because you have no choice as you’re having loud instruments forced upon you, but because they know how to write attention-demanding songs and know how to translate them effortlessly to a live arena.