Live Review: The Smith Street Band + Joyce Manor + Cheap Girls + Milhouse - Annandale Hotel, Sydney (31.08.13)

the shit street gang

Sometimes you can walk into a venue for a gig by a band and you can instantly feel the vibe and know how the night will play out. Walking into the sold out Annandale to see The Smith Street Band I was met with the feeling that we were going to be for a good night. There was positive energy flowing over the crowd as there was Coopers flowing from the taps. It is amazing how this little band have encaptured the Aussie scene. Wil Wagner literally lives and breathes for the music. He wears his heart openly on his sleeve and that’s love and passion that is so damn infectious, it is difficult to not be reeled in with the performance.

On the back of a brilliant new EP Don’t Fuck With Our Dreams the band (Wil affectionately renames The Shit Street Gang) are giving fans one last tour before a massive US trip to support Frank Turner on his 8 week tour. Opening with the title track from the EP, a glorious song about taking a bad situation (the attack and stabbing of one of the members from The Bennies) and turning it into a positive mantra to dig their dirty heels in further to keep the dream of playing music alive. It’s following, as it does on the EP by ‘Ducks Fly Together’, a touching song for a new love where Wil exposes his sometimes vulnerability. It’s at this point, where he shakes off the illness in his head and launches himself wholeheartedly into the show as only one expects from Wil and The Smith Street Band. He screams, he stage dives, he rips his shirt off, he drinks and plays with all his heart to entertain the few hundred in attendance.
The band cover tracks from both Sunshine & Technology and No One Gets Lost Anymore records including the beautiful ‘My Little Sinking Ship’, a song Wil wrote for his sister many years ago. The crowd, joined the front man in singing at the top of their lungs to each and every song with as much gusto as Wagner. So wrapped up in the music he overlooked a few songs on the set list and when the band finished was reminded he missed the tracks so he brought the band back on stage to play them.

The night kicked off with one the last gigs for Milhouse. It’s a shame to see a talent punk band give it away and it was nice to see a healthy crowd come out early to catch them play. they ended their set with a cover of ‘Postcodes’ by The Smith Street Band which was a nice touch. Cheap Girls sound a mix of Weezer’s pop hooks and Jawbreakers melodic attack. The only disappointment was that band didn’t seem to be at 100%. Perhaps the tour had taken it’s toll. (And when I say tour, I mean the drinking!). Joyce Manor ripped some life back into the room with sharp cuts of garage inspired punk that seemed to suit opening for The Smith Street Band.

There is no doubt that The Smith Street Band are working towards bigger and better things and there is none more deserving than this band. To see a group who are so passionate about music and see their love for it, all you can hope for is that no one fucks with their dreams and they continue to shine.