Hockey Dad at The Corner Hotel, Melbourne, Friday March 9, 2018.
Words | Kieran O’Sullivan
Upon entering The Corner Hotel I instantly felt relieved that I have a current Working With Children Check, as the crowd resembled a news report about Schoolies more than a Friday night rock ‘n roll show. Schoolboy bumfluff moustaches and the kind of haircuts designed to live solely under cover of dad caps abounded as the teenage anticipation built.
Brisbane’s Boat Show kicked things off with heaps of energy, edge and a welcome sense of fun. Frontwoman Ali Flintoff sold their infectious, shout-along, punk anthems as the band blasted assuredly away.
Next to grace the stage were Pearl Jam Juniors… err, sorry, Dear Seattle, who wear their ‘90s/’00s influences proudly on their sleeves. With a sound reminiscent of their classic grunge heroes along with elements of bands like Silverchair at their most anthemic, these Sydney-siders possess a strong sound and stage presence. Singer Brae Fisher is an accomplished frontman with a powerful voice, and is engagingly likeable. Seemingly genuinely moved that so many people care for his band and their music, he humbly and repeatedly thanked the audience and the other bands on the bill. It was a thoroughly enjoyable if slightly derivative set, highlighted by an inexplicable cover of Puddle of Mudd’s 2001 hit She Hates Me that the crowd went bananas for. But it was songs like Afterthought which gave a glimpse at a depth of songwriting and a potentially more distinctive sound for the band. Certainly worth keeping an eye on.
After the (by this stage, predominantly shirtless) crowd led us through a brief and somewhat surprising sing-along of DJ Otzi’s Hey Baby, the air was thick with the scents of nostalgia, adolescent pheromones, Lynx Africa and expectancy. These kids were ready for their headliners!
The booming sound of The Vengaboys’ 1999 hit We Like to Party introduced the lads on stage, and they immediately launched into a set of songs that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on a 1999 Punk-O-Rama compilation CD. In support of their latest album Blend Inn, Hockey Dad sold out four* nights at this Melbourne music institution: no mean feat for a pair of 20-somethings who’ve been at it for less than five years.
The first thing you notice about Hockey Dad is that they look just like the majority of their fans. This rabid crowd of sweaty Skater Bois in oversized t-shirts and worn out sneakers were moshing, crowdsurfing and shouting along at the very top of their lungs to songs written by guys just like them… and I think that’s a lot of the charm.
Being a two-piece will save you money and probably a lot of arguments in the rehearsal room, but it can leave your live sound a bit flat, and Hockey Dad were left a little exposed here. Without the benefit of studio production to highlight any subtle nuances between tracks, they all kinda sound the same – not that it affects the fans who continued to writhe, wrestle and shoey their way to the bitter end.
After hearing rumours of the previous night’s finale of The Vines’ Get Free accompanied by guest vocalist Phil Jamieson (Grinspoon), I was interested to see what was in store for us. The boys did indeed grace us with their take on that classic, but this time were joined by Amyl and the Sniffers’ Amy Taylor on vocal duties. In short, it was calamitous: Amy was out of tune and out of time, seemingly unfamiliar with the song, while our hosts wielded their instruments with abandon. A disappointing and avoidable finale to an overall enjoyable gig.
While they’re certainly no Hockey DUDS by any stretch, there’s still plenty of room for growth and development. All tonight’s bands have some things thing in common: they’re young, talented, have great followings already, and will only get better with age. On the basis of tonight, I for one am looking forward to what’s to come.
*A previous version of this article stated Hockey Dad had sold out three nights at The Corner Hotel. It was, in fact, four.
Hockey Dad’s Blend Inn is out now via Inertia.