Review: Christian Stanger
Pictures: Luke Petty
It was raining all week and the future forecasts up until Thursday had promised Brisbane a Sunday drenching. It was not to be. The Riverstage remained dry for the last date of a brand-new traveling rock festival on the now-packed, Australian calendar.
Into the current clamour of festivals and mini festivals comes Daydream Festival. It’s pretty much a noise-rock festival with each band on the bill showcasing this genre in some form, and if shoegazers Slowdive hadn’t been forced to withdraw due to injury, this would have been far more apparent. But with Modest Mouse’s penchant for the odd yelled introspection with indie-rock feedback and Tropical Fuck Storm’s reputation for a wild, volatile and loud live show, ear plugs abounded, and we were geared up for a glorious, if tinnitus-inducing afternoon.
Cloud Nothings knew what they were there for and they played up to the crowd immediately with ringing guitars and scuzzy feedback with the volume cranked to get punters’ ears warmed up for what’s to come. No Future/No Past sees the band showing some teeth and gives Dylan Baldi the chance to let go vocally as he screams the chorus from the band’s much-lauded Attack On Memory release from 11 years ago. This was a turning point for the band and these tracks cut right through any pretence of jangly indie-rock some of the band’s interludes from preceding tracks might indicate. They are at their best when lost amid squalling sound. Wasted Days ends the set with swelling guitars as peddles are stomped and floor toms are smashing as Baldi screams, “I thought I would be more than this”, almost indecipherably.
Brooklyn’s Beach Fossils were up next after a 20-minute interlude and they mellowed things out for the most part, bringing dream pop heaven to the hillside for 45 minutes. The setlist was heavy on new material as the band showcased Bunny, the album to be released in June. If you were hoping to hear the sweet, dreamy soundscapes the band produce in the studio, you may be disappointed in the live setting as with the amps turned up, there is a more abradant edge to tracks like Don’t Fade Away and the apt closer, Daydream.
There could not have been a starker contrast between the approaches of Beach Fossils and Tropical F*** Storm. While Beach Fossils brought bright and positive tones, the drum-beats and menacing hum from the first 20 seconds of TFS’ show starter, Braindrops was of a fierce, serrated origin. Garrett Liddiard leads us into his darkly poetic stream of consciousness as vocals from keyboardist/guitarist Erica Dunn and legendary bassist, Fiona Kitschin (“the hours are long, but the hours are very very long”) cut through creating texture and contrast as the song dissolves to chaos, as so many do.
Favourite from the band’s beginnings, You Let My Tyres Down is greeted with an almighty roar from the appreciative crowd before we again swept in an unholy marriage between noise, grit and melody.
Few bands have tackled the edge between listenable, accessible jams and art-punk/noise-rock in the way that TFS have. Regrettably, I never saw The Drones when they were knocking around and I’ve always kicked myself for missing out on seeing Sharkfin Blues being performed live, but now I feel like I don’t have to. TFS are definitely a worthy replacement as they carve their own entry in the annals of Australian alternative music.
Finally, it is time. Modest Mouse, who last visited Brisbane more than 15 years ago make their way on stage and after waiving away the applause, singer-songwriter, Isaac Brock eases his bandmates (arranged on two tiers) into The World At Large with a softly strummed Wicks Custom – as good an opener as fans could have hoped for. It was all eyes on Isaac for most of the night. The man is captivating and there is nothing quite like his idiosyncratic vocal delivery.
More off-kilter thrashing, into softly spun bridges follows with a personal favourite, Teeth Like God’s Shoeshine before diving into the mainstay indie-pop of Dashboard. The following set touches on each album with seminal work Good News For People Who Like Bad News given special attention as a banjo is ferried out for a performance of Bukowski – and the crowd did indeed scream “sacrifice the liver!” New material mixes with the old but the crowd is with the band for all of it and the usual Brisbane habit of talking during the quieter, more introspective moments is thankfully absent.
Isaac had to stop the show and call for a medic early in the performance as a crowd member was overcome by allegedly “too many fiestas” following Fire It Up. The band followed up this false alarm, appropriately enough, with Fuck Your Acid Trip from their most recent effort, 2021’s The Golden Casket.
The set rounded out with an encore packed with deep cuts from the band’s 90s epoch. Wild Packs of Family Dogs, I Came As A Rat with both delivered with fire to the appreciative audience but Cowboy Dan, stole the show as Isaac screamed at point-blank range into his pickups as he mashed his guitar into his face. This was all the intensity I needed to see to end an amazing afternoon of music.
Since I first listened to this band, 20-plus years ago, Isaac Brock has taught me that if you’re a poet who can kinda sing, you should definitely sing at the top of your lungs so everyone knows it. And if there are notes you can’t hit, scream them! This is high art, and why I will always love this band.