Words By Natalie Blacklock.
The Cutaways ‘Wax Woman’ Album Launch, presented by Crowbar Brisbane and Team Glasses, smashed through their hometown of Brisbane. Since forming in late 2016, The Cutaways have been prolific in the Brisbane live scene with a slew of headline slots as well as supports for local mates including; Grenadiers, Frenzal Rhomb, The Bennies, The Hard Aches and WAAX and internationals including Against Me!, The Menzingers and Signals Midwest. The Brisbane based four-piece are known for their unapologetic and emotive brand of more ‘rock’ than punk, yet more ‘punk’ than rock, which slaps audiences’ right in the face with some pretty big ticket themes – identity, acceptance, growth, relationship breakdowns and attempts at building new ones, strength and empowerment and new record ‘Wax Woman’, released in May, is no exception. Engineered and recorded by Mark Perry (The Gifthorse, Deafcult) at Underground Studios, and mastered by Dan Randall at Mammoth Mastering, ‘Wax Woman’ traverses through blistering guitar lines, bone-rattling percussion, and driving vocal hooks, exploring frontwoman Emmy Hour’s deeply personal journey as a trans person, which is equal parts hard-hitting and addictive and a clear next step for the Brisbane sweethearts.
Playing host tonight is Brisbane’s ‘Home of The Heavy’, Crowbar. Just shy of their 7th Birthday, Crowbar has become a staple on the Metal, Punk and Hardcore scenes as a beacon of good beers and friendly faces on an otherwise dreary Brunswick Street.
Boasting 3 separate venue spaces in one (the bandroom downstairs plus “Black” and “Church” upstairs), Crowbar, owned by former keyboardist from The Amity Affliction, Trad Nathan and partner Tyla Dombroski, have recently expanded the Crowbar family down south into the bones of Sydney institution, The Bald Faced Stag, providing yet another steady platform for heavy music locally.
First up were Desperada, a newly formed local Brisbane-based three-piece. Joe Jackson (Vocals / Guitar), Jackson Row (Bass) and Lachy Walker (Drums) grew up in different parts of Queensland and previously met while playing in heavier bands, however once moving to Brisbane have put together an outfit that fuses the sounds of Australian legends like Paul Kelly with 2000s emo heartthrobs Break Even. Their debut record, ‘Born Not Raised’, released earlier this year echoes heartfelt sentiment and earnestness throughout in the same vein as the likes Luca Brasi and The Getaway Plan with a ‘spoken word’ quality akin to The Peep Temple. Ripping through a handful of tracks from their debut, including Hell or High Water, Gentle Bones and Boys Don’t Lie, Desperada quickly found their groove. Approaching the end of their set, they dropped a heavy cover of Midnight Oil’s The Dead Heart, and the quicker-paced Godspeed before closing with the emotion-laden Bitten By The Black Dog written by a friend of the band who lost his battle with depression. Overall, Desperada offered a solid insight into their band and provided an impassioned opening to the evening.
CNT EVN were next to grace the stage. Described as a quartet of “messy punks with a bit of synth”, their fresh sound has seen them become a formidable band about town, pulling crowds and fans along for the ride. Following the release of debut EP ‘Demo’ (mixed by Henry Gachette and mastered by Greg Jard) in September 2018, the band; Rae Hatch (Vocals / Keys), Anthony Gray (Guitar), Rita Braby (Bass) and Gemma Wyer (Drums) have been snagging numerous support slots for the likes of Brisbane’s Good Boy, Sydneysiders Straight Arrows and Melbournians Bench Press. Frontwoman Rae Hatch’s energy is electric yet playful and reminiscent of Kat Friend from The Gooch Palms, as the band powers through their tracks including Endless and Petrified before winding down with Stab Me In The Front. CNT EVN are bringing something different to the table, using the classic punk with energetic fast-paced riffs, thumping drums and howling vocals to carve their sound into the local scene.
As the mid-point of the night hit, local punks Vestiges woke up the growing crowd. Influenced by the sounds of highly passionate yet serious melodic hardcore like The Nation Blue, Miles Away and early My Disco, Vestiges have two EPs (‘I’ and ‘II’) currently under their belt. The 5-piece band; Adam McArthur (Vocals), Matthew Crawley (Guitar / Vocals), Daniel Pimm (Guitar), Craig Johnson (Bass) and Christopher Preindl (Drums), have been gaining a strong support base since their formation in 2017and have recently played a bunch of local shows supporting big ticket bands like Totally Unicorn and Modern Life Is War. The bandopened their set with an Acknowledgement of Country before jumping straight into a slew of tracks including Kaltukatjara, Eurombah and Nauru, which saw frontman Adam McArthur escape under the front barrier of the Crowbar Brisbane stage and into the crowd on more than one occasion.Vestiges punched through a solid back-end of the set featuring Meanjin (the Turrbal name for the land that became Brisbane) which called on the audience to make a point of calling out casual racism, sexism and homophobia in their workplaces, families and friendship grounds, the aptly titled Instrumental as well as sneaky guest appearance from The Cutaways bassist Marcus Wilson. Showcasing a distinctive fusion of quality hardcore punk sound and social / political statements, it will be interesting to see where Vestiges go next.
The only international act on the line-up were TOP nachos. Hailing from New York, the two-piece; Eli Frank (Vocals / Guitar) and Kenny Hauptman (Drums) write slacker-style garage goof rock that touches on the more important topics in life such as catching your grandma smoking weed, getting high and eating pastries, and exploring the world of Tinder. Following the release of their first full-length record ‘Dank Side of The Moon’ last year, this tour sees TOP nachos visit Australia for the first time. From the outset, it is obvious that TOP nachos are here for a good time – forgetting the week that has been and just having a little fun. Evoking memories of fellow American, Jeff Rosenstock (Bomb The Music Industry!) playing this very stage, TOP nachos have a strange way of making mundane day-to-day tasks sound exciting as hell as frontman Eli Frank screamed about making Margaritas and heading to the grocery store. After recounting their experience of every overseas band’s Brisbane rite-of-passage (meeting a Koala at Lone Pine Sanctuary), Frank questioned the audience’s fondness of 1960’s / 1970’s Pop Powerhouse The Bee Gees before getting into an upbeat cover of seminal track Staying Alive – which was made all the more amusing given how close we are to the band’s childhood home of Redcliffe. Frank and Hauptman followed up with another well-received cover, this time tackling A Thousand Miles by Vanessa Carlton. They rounded out their set with standout track from ‘Dank Side of The Moon’, Canada, cleverly mixed with Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You in the final chorus. For their first visit to Australia, TOP nachos have definitely made a lasting impression on this crowd.
The excitement and anticipation for the headliner, The Cutaways, was evident as the front of the bandroom fills with a stack of familiar faces from past Cutaways shows and Brisbane music identities scattered through the crowd. Officially launching their debut record, ‘Wax Woman’ called for a party and a party is what the basement dwellers of Crowbar received. Frontwoman Emmy Hour (Vocals / Guitar) with Ben Fishlock (Guitar), Marcus Wilson (Bass) and Peter Bosworth (Drums) take the stage to a raucous reception. After opening with older track Walk Me Home, taken from their self-titled 2016 EP, it was clear that this was going to be one of The Cutaways most polished performances yet. Following up with Can’t Get The Boy, which featured searing backing vocals from guitarist Ben Fishlock and album title-track Wax Woman in quick succession; the strong crowd were hanging on every word. Older cut Dislocated was stunning and clearly demonstrated the strength in Emmy’s vocals. Hitting the middle of the set with guitar-heavy, singalong friendly All The Way To The End and Dead Name, which really drove home the deeply personal nature of this record for Emmy and the band. In what has become somewhat of a tradition at Crowbar, a round of Jameson shots delivered to the stage were quickly downed, proving some things will always stay the same. The catchy pop-punk sensibility and perfect amount of whoa–oa’s continued to come in spades as the crowd danced and screamed along to most recent single, In The Street, for which the band recorded their first official video clip. The unmistakably groovy Muscle In provided the perfect track to air drum to whilst absolute banger and clear favourite of those in the front row, the lyric-heavy The Million Tiny Pieces offered everything: great lyrics, a catchy chorus and a tasty bass line that instantly gets stuck in your head. Finishing off their set with Break Ups and Aches, the smiles and the exhaustion on the faces of The Cutaways said everything the audience needed to know – ‘Wax Woman’ is a massive part of their heart and soul – and one they should be incredibly proud of releasing into the world!
Without a doubt, the truest experience of The Cutaways is at a live show. This Brisbane four-piece are a testament to honing one’s craft on the job, as their honest and deeply personal performances add something almost indescribable to their music, earning them a strong reputation as one of the most prolific and best loved local acts. Alas, as the party wound up down in the bandroom, it seemed to be just warming up upstairs – with many a punter using it as a chance to kick on and catch up for a beer and a chat with their mates, celebrating one more night in Brisbane.
Do not be the one who misses The Cutaways next time they are on a stage near you! For dates, locations, and ticket information on upcoming shows, click HERE.
Saturday 10 August – Crowbar | Brisbane (18+) [Supporting Frenzal Rhomb for Crowbar’s 7th Birthday Week Party]
Thursday 15 August – Netherworld | Brisbane (18+)