grandson + Bakers Eddy @ The Princess Theatre – [LIVE REVIEW]

Review: Jack Price
Photography: Justin Gittins (Radical Imaging)

The Princess Theatre has seen a lot of national and international action lately. Tonight it is home to American-Canadian artist grandson, the genre-bending songwriter. The punters lining up waiting patiently to enter the venue are the usual mix-match of characters, with one distinct noticeable difference – big, black crosses painted across the eyes of some faces in the line. A clear reference to the headliner’s message of disillusionment and awakening.

To begin the nights festivities, New Zealand‘s Alt/Punk quartet Bakers Eddy take to the stage to wind up the patiently awaiting crowd, kicking off with a very jaunty “Hello!” from frontman Ciarann Babbington, before jumping into Concertina. The band introduced themselves more before moving into Sober, showing their alternative rock side, while encouraging the crowd to clap along to the tune.

After a quick technical glitch with Ian Spagnolo‘s bass amp, Babbington announce they would play 3 songs they’d never played before, the crowd delighted with this news bobbed and bounced along to the catchy pop-punk arrangement, before closing their set with Hi-Vis Baby. The Bakers Eddy boys delivered a delightfully bright and shiny experience, with twins bassist Ian and Alex Spagnolo on guitar playing around on stage, and adding the aggresiveness to their set, drummer Jamie Gordon delivering some gravely vocals.

As the stage lights dimmed, the crowd cheered the lowly mic stand holding a street sign stating “I LOVE YOU, IM TRYING“, the recent album from grandson, as they waited for the headliner to take to the stage. Unfortunately, their patience would have to endure as the set-time came and went. Finally the room darkened as the crowd whooped and cheered as Queen‘s Bohemian Rhapsody played over the house PA. Obsvisoulsy the entire crowd joined in singing along to the classic anthem, cheering to themselves afterwards.

A single spotlight illuminated the stage as grandson finally took to the stage, sunglasses on and freshly buzzed hair, shouting “Brisbane how the fuck are you feeling?” He and his bandmates, Leo Varella on guitar and Tobias Kelly on drums, kicked off the set with Two Along Their Way, with so much energy and charisma, the crowd burst to life. The stage presence of grandson himself with his gesturing of lyrics and encouragement of the crowd to jump and sing along was electric

The trio lead into Something To Hide which both mellowed the atmosphere and pumped up the crowd during the choruses simultaneously. Again, grandson used his whole body for the performance, feeding his energy to the audience who ate it up and spewed it back at him.

As his first time playing shows here in Australia (not his first time visiting, as he stated in the recent interview with Everblack), his engagement with the crowd made for a super intimate experience. He bantered with and addressed the venue between songs, which considering again that it is his first tour here was pretty much packed.

After addressing the under-age fans up on the mezzanine and encouraging them to make the most noise, grandson addressed the adults in the room, informing them all to party like they were 17 again, clearly not realising that us 30-somethings with work tomorrow were going to be feeling sorry for ourselves regardless of how we partied. Alas, he went on to lay down some rules such as jumping is mandatory, singing along is a must, moshing is encouraged and pick up those who fall. Pretty considerate of him to look out for his fans. “And if you have a problem with any of that…” grandson began before a punter chimed in with “Fuck off!” which the he couldn’t argue with.

After finishing his speech, he and his compatriots sprung into Rain from The Suicide Squad soundtrack. I’ve seen a flew shows now at The Princess Theatre, but never have I felt the venue’s floor move the way it did for grandsln. The entire room was jumping at the comand of their director, less those that were filming the spectacle. Clearly this pleased him as he said post song “This is gonna be good, we’re having fun”. During Darksidegrandson requested the crowd form a moshpit in the centre of the heaving mass of fans, spliting the middle with punters gearing up to go to battle.

grandson explained that tonights show, every show, is more than a collection of music, its a political project. Standing up for the downtrodden, being the voice for the silent. Powerful words indeed and a message he conveys undiluted through his music. As he explained the concept of the following track, WWIII, he added that whilst it was written from the perspective of an American solider waiting to return home from service, could be interpreted to every single one of us, battling out the day by day stresses that life through at us.

“We’re gonna find out how many day one grandson fans there here” grandson announced after asking how long the crowd had been listening to his music. Playing some of his earlier work, Apologize was up next. While most of the crowd knew the track, it was indeed intended for the OG hardcore fans. Stick Up was next which ensured mosh pit to form again with it’s high energy and aggressive lyrical tone.

“I dunno how music gets all the way down here from fucking LA, but this sure as shit is fun” said grandson as they began Best Friends. “We’ve got some fans that have been listening for a long time, we should have done this a long fucking time ago!”
What’s a show without a sing-along? As grandson expressed he wanted help on the next track, Dirty, he requested the audience sing the line “is there anybody out there that’s paying attention”, the walls of the venue echoed with what sounded like a thousand voices thundering the line during the song.
As grandson has a strong emphasis on mental health in his work, the next song was truly an emotional and intimate moment between artist and fans as he got down from the stage to join the crowd, circling around him as he began Heather, a beautiful track dedicated to a lost fan. He also dedicated the song to anyone who couldn’t be at the show, anyone lost to anyone there. There were teary eyes and faces as torch light from mobile phones illuminated the scene.

With only have a couple more songs left to the set, Despicable was up next, followed by the heavier We Did It!!!. The entire set was heavier in terms of the music than grandson’s studio work and less reliant on instrumental or syth tracking, due to the performance from Leo and Tobias, who were amazing respectively.

And then it happened. The LA rapper had pushed the Aussie spirit too far. As he announced for the final track, Water // Blood, “we have a tradition on this stage, we’ve done this in hubdreds of cities” someone in the crowd shouted “Shoey!!”. A handful of shoes were thrown on stage at his request and of course grandson obliged, joined by guitarist Leo.

Once the infamous deed had been done, he began distributing bottles of water to the crowd with the instructions not to open them until told. As the chorus opened and he began opening his own bottle of water, the bottles the crowd had been given were armed and ready. Water started spraying across the room from every direction. The final chorus began and a moshpit began to form. Quick thinking punters burst into the middle, sat down and began rowing, quickly joined by more and more people before the majority of the room was now joining in.

As the band left the stage after saying their thanks and goodbyes, the crowd cheered before turning into a chant, calling for an encore. grandson emerged to the crying crowd, acoustic guitar at the ready, saying”Im gonna play you one of the first songs I ever wrote” and struck up Bury Me Face Down.

After calling his bandmates back to the stage, he declared “Enough of this I dunno if I’m gonna be okay shit, you are fucking perfect” to the crowd, before kicking off Stigmata. Finally, to close the set, he introduced a track dedicated to his mentor, Mike ShinodaRiptide.

grandson and company thanked the crowd, it was clear he thoroughly enjoyed the crowds performance for the evening. Not a bad start to a first headlining tour in Australia for an artist that bends and melds genres to his whim, finding a place in the heart of hip-hop, metal, rock and alternative fans hearts. As for the crowd, they seemed just as chuffed with the evening as they spewed out into the night, chatting and discussing the evenings events. Hopefully grandson is back to give them more to talk about soon.

Remaining Dates : 

Saturday 3 February
Liberty Hall, Sydney Lic AA

Sunday 4 February
170 Russell, Melbourne 18+

General tickets on-sale at