Beddy Rays performed at 170 Russell in Melbourne on Thursday, 22nd September. Brenton Harris reviews.
Slated as a night of celebration for Beddy Rays‘ recent self-titled debut album, the night kicks off in style thanks to SA duo TOWNS. The duo’s hook-infused ’90s indie rock finds favour with the early arrivals, as guitarist/vocalist Aston Valladares and drummer/vocalist Daniel Steinert display a musical connection that would be the envy of many acts.
Since shifting to Melbourne a few years ago, Wellington crew Bakers Eddy have earned a reputation for playing absolute blinders. To nobody’s surprise, they bring the floor to life with a set of delectable punk-pop gems. Vocalist Ciarann Babbington has a voice and stage presence that screams “I was born to do this,” belting out every song while wearing a big, cheeky grin.
The way Bakers Eddy bounce off each other gives the impression that deep friendship lies at the centre of their musical output. They look and sound like best mates living their best lives, and that vibe only intensifies when members of Beddy Rays join them to crank out ‘21’.
Beddy Rays have the crowd in the palms of their hands
Most bands would struggle to follow the frenetic energy of a Bakers Eddy set, but Beddy Rays experience no such issues. Walking out to the sound of Manfred Mann’s Earth Band’s ‘Blinded By The Light’, the Redland Bay surf-punk rockers have the crowd in the palms of their hands from the first note.
Guitarist and vocalist Jackson Van Issum plays the role of conductor for a shambolic choir, leading a room of adoring fans through several tracks from their debut album, including ‘Coffee Stops’, ‘Week on Repeat’ and ‘Feels Nice’. Hundreds of voices unite to sing the chorus of ‘Wait A While’, while the audience call and response during ‘FOTU’ is deafening. The addition of the group’s manager on guitar for the latter frees Van Issum to throw himself fully into crowd interaction mode.
The bond between Van Issum and his bandmates, bassist Bradley O’Conner, guitarist Lewis McKenna and drummer Benjamin Wade, gives the show a vibrancy that many acts would kill to be able to replicate. ‘On My Own’ and ‘Sort It Out’ keep the feel-good vibes high, while the tender ode to a lost friend, ‘Brin’s Song’, brings a tear to many in the room. Lighters and phones are held in the air as Van Issum takes on a more serious, intimate tone, providing a moment of relatable emotional release.
That relatability is key to the connection Beddy Rays have forged with their audience, most of who are around the same age as the band members. The band’s loyal followers lose themselves in the upbeat surf-rock of ‘Handful’, giving the sense they can see themselves in the stories of Beddy Rays’ songs.
As the clock ticks closer to curfew, Beddy Rays amp it up another notch with a charismatic reading of Thelma Plum’s ‘Better In Blak’ before sending the room into absolute chaos with their signature song ‘Sobercoaster’. A staple of triple j since its release, every voice in the room joins the band in a celebratory chorus.
A desperate cry for an encore follows and the band respond with a couple of party-starting partial covers in the form of TOTO’s ‘Hold The Line’ and AC/DC’s ‘Highway To Hell’ before the entire touring party joins them for an unhinged ‘Better Weather’, ensuring we all head out onto the streets of Melbourne in peak public holiday-eve party form.
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