Sydney’s alt metal dynamos RedHook have enjoyed a meteoric rise since bursting into the Australian metal scene only a few years ago. The talented trio have become a Triple J mainstay, toured internationally with hard rock legends Three Days Grace and appeared at Download Festival in Australia and the UK, all with only a few infectiously catchy singles to their name. Now the band are stepping it up even further by celebrating last week’s release of their hotly awaited debut EP ‘Bad Decisions’ with a national tour.
Tonight, they kick off the festivities with a sold-out show at The Brightside supported by local pop rockers Skies Collide and All Hours, in a noteworthy celebration of female talent in Australian heavy music. Having been a fan of RedHook for quite some time, but never having actually seen them kick ass live, I am very keen to see what all the fuss is about tonight.
First up are All Hours, who describe themselves as “pop punk metal”, and this could not be a more apt description. Almost immediately when they launch into their set, I am struck by the unexpected melting pot of genres that the five-piece has wrapped up into their signature sound, often alternating from energetic hardcore breakdowns to bubblegum pop, and sometimes both at once. The band marries uplifting, catchy songwriting and Paramore-esque clean vocals with frequent guitar shreds and sharp screams right out of A Day To Remember, with some Good Charlotte-style punk sensibilities thrown in for good measure.
Despite some issues with the live mix – the lead vocals are never quite loud enough and the backing vocals sound a little off in some places – All Hours pull off a charming and dynamic performance, delivered with such character and playfulness that you can’t help but smile as you watch. Certainly, the steadily growing crowd seems to think so too, as a fun, heavy cover of Amy Shark’s I Said Hi gets some great audience engagement. This band takes me back to the glory days of Fallout Boy and Short Stack, though All Hours put their own spin on that classic pop punk sound with the added edge of a meatier rhythm section to bring some metal grit. A highly enjoyable set from these guys.
Soon afterwards, Skies Collide take the stage, and the five-piece are energetic from the getgo as they immerse us in their irresistible cinematic pop rock soundscape. An excited crowd immediately gathers at the foot of the stage as synthy goodness emanates from the PA to build the atmosphere in the room. We discover that this is the band’s first show in two years, and they really give it their all, delivering a very polished performance with a sense of presence that is far too big and commanding for this small stage. They clearly belong on far bigger stages at far bigger shows.
I am instantly hooked by Skies Collide’s gorgeous sound that interweaves delectably dark melodies with modern rock sensibilities to give a very Tonight Alive meets Anberlin feel. The final three songs in their set are highlights for me – their heaviest track of the night gets a great mosh pit going as vocalist Britt’s powerhouse vocals soar over a particularly punchy rhythm section. This is followed by a “dance party” for a nice change of pace, complete with disco beats on cymbals and a jumping crowd, and the set ends on a high note with the band’s newest single Bloodstream, which really gives me the feels. This is an excellent return to form for a vastly underrated band – definitely check out Skies Collide if you haven’t already.
Finally, the moment we’ve all been waiting for has arrived – the lights fade to black, an atmospheric intro builds the tension and the crowd goes wild as RedHook burst onto the stage and crank the vibe in the room right up to 11. A jump pit breaks out almost straight away and the crowd sings along ecstatically as the headliners rip into their set with endless amounts of energy and attitude. The band’s signature Spiderbait meets Rage Against the Machine sound packs such a punch live, and I’m so here for it.
RedHook are a super tight unit, delivering a truly flawless performance with as much bravura as any of the big international players out there and much higher entertainment value, thanks in no small part to lead vocalist Emmy Mack, whose personal presence and cool factor is off the charts. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a charismatic frontwoman at work, and with such astonishing technical versatility as a vocalist – honeyed clean vocals pierce through the punchy guitars and drums like a ray of light, contrasting with her feral screams and expert rapping ability. Mack has the crowd eating out of her hand with her hilarious banter in between songs and her natural ability to get people fully engaged in this joyous live music experience.
Popular numbers from their new EP, such as Cure 4 Psycho and Your Heroes Are Bullshit, really raise the roof, with the band really reaching their zenith during the latter song. There is a real mood in the room of rage and defiance during this badass anthem, and it turns out there’s a reason for that. In a sobering but important moment of solidarity, Mack reveals that Your Heroes Are Bullshit was written to call out the bullshit behaviour of some of RedHook’s original influences and previous (now fallen) heroes such as Marilyn Manson, and how this has impacted so many artists in the music industry and beyond.
The whole headlining set is jam-packed with highlights that make it a special experience that really sets the tone for the rest of the tour. Between a spontaneous sax solo from guitarist Craig Wilkinson, a delightfully messy wall of death that unfolds during Turn Up The Stereotype, and Mack unexpectedly teaming up with the vocalist Days Like These for a duet on new single Kamikaze, there’s surprises in abundance. Though the standout moment for me has to be the band tossing pillows, of all things, into the crowd and a glorious pillow fight erupts in the mosh. I haven’t had this much fun at a gig in a long time, and it will go down as one of my favourite Brisbane gigs I’ve ever attended. And sure enough, I really can see what all the fuss is about now – RedHook are a unique and unforgettable force in Australian music, and they’ll play you the best damn gig you’ve ever seen. Better get your tickets, and fast.
BAD DECISIONS TOUR
All tickets on sale via weareredhook.com
FRI 30 APR | BRIGHTSIDE, BRISBANE QLD
SAT MAY 1 | CROWBAR, SYDNEY NSW ** SOLD OUT **
SAT MAY 1 | CROWBAR, SYDNEY NSW (SECOND SHOW)
FRI MAY 7 | CROWN & ANCHOR, ADELAIDE SA ** SOLD OUT **
FRI MAY 7 | CROWN & ANCHOR, ADELAIDE SA (SECOND SHOW)
SAT MAY 8 | NORTHCOTE SOCIAL CLUB, MELBOURNE VIC ** SOLD OUT **
SAT MAY 8 | NORTHCOTE SOCIAL CLUB, MELBOURNE VIC (SECOND SHOW)
FRI MAY 14 | PRINCE OF WALES, BUNBURY WA
SAT MAY 15 | AMPLIFIER, PERTH WA
SUN MAY 16 | HQ, PERTH WA (AA)
SAT JUL 31 | FULL TILT FESTIVAL, BELLA VISTA FARM NSW
FRI OCT 29 | DISTRICT X, SYDNEY INTERNATIONAL REGATTA CENTRE NSW
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With thanks to Good Intent