Daniel Lee Kendall has a very sweet, understated stage presence. The youngster from Bensville had the difficult task of warming the stage for a mammoth line-up of Australian talent, and he did well to win over the large crowd who had gathered early to stake their places at the front of the stage. Kendall’s vocals are very smooth and Jack Johnson-esque, and while his gentle tones were at times a bit too same-y and safe, his music is very pretty. His acoustic cover of Passion Pit’s “The Reeling” received a rapturous round of applause from the audience, as did Triple J favourite “Lost In The Moment”. An awkward robot style jig before he walked off-stage showed that not only is the man a gorgeous, talented performer with a penchance for whimsical folk infused pop, but that he doesn’t take himself too seriously either. Definitely an artist to watch out for this year.
Andy Bull quietly snuck onstage, and without introduction, proceeded to blow the punters away with a passionate performance that was engaging, comical and a delight to witness. His theatrical vocal style and mish-mash of genres sound even better live than they do on record, and he was thoroughly entertaining, telling anecdotes between songs and making fun of his own hipster beard. The friendly revelry between Bull and band mates Alex and Dave made the set seem as though it was a party with a few hundred of your closest mates. Highlights of the set were a cover of Tears For Fears classic “Everybody Wants To Rule The World”, and the ever amazing “Dog” that was still enchanting without Lisa Mitchell’s vocals.
Next up were Perth four piece The Chemist, who were rather underwhelming live. I’ve always found The Chemist to have a weird aesthetic with each one of their songs being a mini-epic that can sound completely different to the next track, and while I enjoy the variety, live the band seemed to be lacking the energy and charisma needed to hold the attention of the crowd – and it was definitely a set where they weren’t at the top of their game. There was a mass departure after they played “Lullaby # 1 (mercy)” rather early on in the show; the crowd (who were a mix of excitable teenage girls and hipster elitists) chose to line up for drinks and the bathroom in preparation for the headlining act, instead of sticking around for the remainder of their performance.
Hungry Kids of Hungary were, in short, really fucking amazing. Having seen them play countless times in the past two years and grown tired of their sound, I was unsure how another set of the same old tracks would go down, but HKH surprised me with a blistering performance that showed how far this band have come since playing ‘The East’ to a half empty band room back in 2009 and now selling out The Hi Fi, and cementing their place as one of the finest purveyors of indie-pop in the country.
Kane Mazlin and Dean McGrath are engaging front men, and their sweet do-wah harmonies are sounding better than ever. The addition of a fifth band member to their touring show made for an even bigger sound than usual, and the crowd went off as HKH opened with a new track before launching into fan favourites “Scattered Diamonds” and “Closer Apart”. Andy Bull joined them onstage for a charming rendition of “Last Waltz”, and then the boys kicked it up a notch, racing through “Eat Your Heart Out”, “You Ain’t Always There”, “Wristwatch”, “Coming Around” and “Let You Down”, leaving the audience in a sweaty, happy daze as they walked off stage to cries of more. HKH played a short, two song encore, which included a bold cover of Smashing Pumpkin’s “1979”. A brave move by the Hungry’s as they risked alienating the many hipster Pumpkins fans who were present, but the crowd lapped it up and the night ended on a high with a killer version of “Set It Right”.
Hungry Kids of Hungary raised the roof off the Hi Fi on their final escapades tour, which sadly will be their last headlining show for the year as they get busy in the studio with album number 2 (which, judging by the sound of the new tracks they played, is something to get very excited about). Their set was truly amazing, and I look forward to seeing what they come up with next time they’re in town.