In the dark corners of Hobart, surrounded by many a fast food restaurant or club, sits the Odeon Theatre, the premiere setting for the majority of all age concerts to grace Tasmania’s capital. In the wake of their new release, More Afraid Of You Than You Are Of Me, The Smith Street Band make their grand return to Tasmania after performing at this year’s iteration of Party in the Paddock, this time bringing with them Joyce Manor, Ceres and Allison Weiss.
Admittedly, the album hasn’t been in my regular album rotation since it was released, however it was still an impressive fourth album for the Australian rockers. An array of oddly named songs combined with a few random lyrics here and there would normally equate to a below average record, but the passionate delivery from lead singer Wil Wagner and the production from renowned punk rock star Jeff Rosenstock made sure that this album would be one to keep an eye on in 2017.
As the crowd packed into the grand Odeon Theatre, American indie pop band Allison Weiss took to the stage. Aptly led by frontwoman Allison Weiss, the band performed an entertaining set, livening up the slightly inebriated crowd. Surprisingly, the band sound even better live than on record, a feature often lost on bands of this genre. Allison Weiss’ live set brought a bigger feeling of summer than their most recent record New Love.
Following Allison Weiss was Australian punk rock outfit Ceres. Ceres’ sincere lyricism and abrasive vocals created a great sense of intensity throughout the growing mosh pit. It became no secret that Smith Street Band lead singer Wil Wagner and Ceres lead singer Tom Lanyon were close friends when Ceres brought Wil out to perform their collaborative single “Stretch Ur Skin”. After performing some of their better known songs like “Happy In Your Head” and “91, Your House”, Ceres did exactly what an opening act should do, entertain and hype up the crowd. Ceres’ vigorous performance was followed by the highly anticipated Joyce Manor.
Joyce Manor’s pop-punk performance emulated serious Fall Out Boy and Blink 182 vibes, sending me back to my snot-nosed early high school days. As per usual with Hobart crowds, there was quite a bit of shoving, drink spilling and yelling during Joyce Manor’s performance. A potential cause of this was the fact that Joyce Manor didn’t really engage with the crowd much. Allison Weiss and Ceres were very engaging and were continuously telling the crowd that they were so happy to be there, we’re a great crowd, etc. to the crowd but Joyce Manor decided to just play their songs and leave. Despite this, the crowd were thoroughly pleased by Joyce Manor and the other two supporting acts.
After what felt like hours of chanting, The Smith Street Band finally emerged for their first performance in Hobart that wasn’t at the Brisbane Hotel. Wil Wagner wasted very little time launching into their first song, “Suffer”. The grandiose guitars that open the song set the crowd alight as Wil Wagner’s thundering voice accompanied the instrumentals perfectly.
Following “Suffer” were the songs “Song For You”, “Forrest” and “Birthdays”, three songs from the new album. A personal gripe over The Smith Street Band is the fact that a majority of their lyrics have no real cohesion, something which was heavily exemplified on their new album More Scared Of You Than You Are Of Me. This was never the case with their earlier music, with Don’t F*** With Our Dreams being an incredibly well written EP. From Don’t F*** With Our Dreams came the emotional “Ducks Fly Together”, (my personal favourite Smith Street song). Following ballads like “Surrey” and “25”, Wil took a break to engage the crowd. Wil has been vocal about his love for Tasmania in the past and tonight was no different.
The man had a great stage presence and had the crowd hanging onto every word he said, like a messiah leading his people. After powering through fan favourite “I Don’t Wanna Die Anymore”, the pace and vibe of the event was slightly slowed and calmed by the more relaxed tracks “The Arrogance Of The Drunk Pedestrian” and “It Kills Me To Be Alive”. The Smith Street Band then took it back to their debut and sophomore albums and performed “Get High, See Mice” and “Young Drunk”, respectively. “Young Drunk” is one of Smith Street Band’s most commercial and well-known songs so it was relatively odd to hear it be played over a modified instrumentation. Regardless, “Young Drunk” was a crowd pleaser. At this point, the crowd started becoming agitated with the lack of room in the mosh pit, which caused shoving and drink spilling, yet another common attribute of the Odeon Theatre. Wil took the opportunity to yell at a drunk guy in the front row, which made the crowd laugh, calming them down before the next song “Run Into The World”.
Arguably the best moment of the concert came when Wil Wagner invited Ceres’ lead singer Tom Lanyon to stage, so that the crowd could sing “Happy Birthday” to the birthday boy himself, creating a very heart-warming moment. The crowd went crazy for “Passiona” after a short anecdote about the passionfruit flavoured beverage of the same name. The decision to play “Death To The Lads” at any time other than the very end of the concert baffled me. What made it worse was that “Death To The Lads” objectively fell kind of flat compared to the studio version. There seemed to be a slight lack of passion behind the delivery, which was rather strange since Wil Wagner’s delivery up until then had been perfect. The crowd didn’t seem all that bothered but on a personal level, the most anticipated song was also the most disappointing.
Luckily, The Smith Street Band picked their form back up with three gritty, intense performances of “Shine”, “Surrender” and “Young Once”. During the performance of “Laughing (Or Pretending To Laugh)”, the crowd seemed to be in complete awe of lead singer Wil Wagner, listening to solely his voice for almost the entire song, in a moment that seemed to bring harmony to the previously aggressive crowd. Choosing to finish on “Throw Me In The River” was slightly questionable, the general vibe of the concert was that of anarchy and chaos, so ending on a banger would have been the more preferable choice over a love song, objectively.
All in all, the concert was great. A very fun vibe, no gripes about the instrumentals, an unadulterated atmosphere and a sense of camaraderie between rabid Smith Street Band fans made the concert a night that will be looked upon more favourably. However, the concert wasn’t without its faults. Slight disappointment regarding the big songs, an overly abrasive and sweaty crowd (although what should I have expected) and lack of a big finish were slight letdowns, but definitely not enough to ruin the night of a Smith Street Band fan.
The Smith Street Band are currently touring Australia. Grab all the dates on their Official Website. More Scared Of You Than You Are Of Me Is available now.