Stonefield at Howler, Melbourne, Thursday August 2, 2019.
In full, five-piece band mode tonight – Leah and Andi Senior, Jesse Williams, Tam Vantage and Luke Brennan – Leah Senior bewitches early arrivals with her pure vocal tone and evocative lyrics that resonate thanks to careful diction. When Senior’s sister Andi joins in, their sibling harmonies elevate shiny guitars and sparse drum beats that always complement rather than compete. Leah Senior delivers dark folk music with just the right amount of grit. If you’re searching for an entry point into Leah Senior discovery, we recommend the lilting beauty of Pretty Faces.
Gone are the novelty flesh-tone onesies with exaggerated merkins and drawn-on boobs; Bitch Diesel rock their own individual styles these days. They play nonchalant punk that’s raw and flawed. Bandmember names are listed as The Stang, Silver Skidmark and Charger, and with lyrics such as, “I’ll give you a tug, ’cause you’ve got a real nice mug,” you better believe these badass bitches are in on the joke.
Stonefield take the stage looking like total bosses in matching corduroy suits, each in a different autumnal hue such as chocolate, burgundy and rust. These four Findlay sisters, who put the rural Victorian town of Darraweit Guim on the map, have been fiercely authentic since birth – and on their latest, Stonefield utilise psychedelic keys and riffs of doom like never before. If you detect the distant slither of King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard on Bent (especially during standout track Dead Alive), this is probably because two members of that band – Stu Mackenzie and Joe Walker – produced Stonefield’s fourth studio album.
We always knew these gargantuan tracks would translate into caterwauling beasts live, but Stonefield crank it up one louder this evening and we’re left awestruck. Sleep rouses the crowd and Hannah’s effortless, debilitatingly powerful guitar solos are an absolute treat to behold as she bucks and sways, possessed by the majesty of her own riffs. Holly’s basslines twist around her sister’s riffs like mating snakes, which results in several face-melting emergencies in the front section. Seated on her drum stool and singing into her mic in profile, Amy is restricted in terms of the eye contact/connection she can make with her audience, but goddamn can she play! And she’s such a pro that she doesn’t even wince when a strand of her hair gets stuck in the mic stand during a particularly thrashy drumming section. Sarah’s trippy keys during 66 require next-level phalange agility.
All those years spent jamming in a shed on their parent’s farm have definitely paid off and Stonefield’s stoner instrumental jams demonstrate unrivalled sibling synergy. Whether you prefer head-banging or just politely nodding along, Stonefield’s dexterous artistry and far-out live performance will definitely take you there. Post-show sore neck guaranteed.
Bent by Stonefield is out now via Flightless.