“Thankyou for coming to our show, we work really hard to create an environment that allows every single person to feel safe, comfortable and a part of our big beautiful family. If you experience, see or hear anything at all that makes you feel uncomfortable please let a security guard, bar staff or us know and we will do everything we can to deal with the situation in the appropriate manner. Please, no crowd surfing and no shoeys. Eat pizza, pat dogs and support your friends. <3”
This was the message on a poster pinned near the entrance of The Corner Hotel’s bandroom last evening, and it set the scene for the wholesome kick-off of The Hard Aches’ largest national tour to date; the evening also celebrated release day for their brand-spanking-new album, Mess.
Melbourne trio FACE FACE began the stacked line-up with a confident and vulnerable tone, with Everyday gaining the biggest cheers from the modestly-sized but charmed crowd. Another trio, Sincerely, Grizzly were up next. The self-confessed “Diet Coke of everything you love” were welcomed back to Melbourne with open arms, their whirring riffs and lingering vocal perfect for fans of Brand New or Pianos Become The Teeth – thumbs up from me. Last but certainly not least for support slots were the adorable Antonia & The Lazy Susans, fresh from a road trip from their home base in the Blue Mountains. The youthful four-piece showed no signs of fatigue as frontwoman Antonia Susan stood on her tippy-toes to deliver her innocent and relatable lyrics. The group finished their set with Home Here With Your Friends, the lead single from last year’s popular EP Closure.
By this stage The Corner was near capacity, and as I watched the nervous girl next to me confirm that she would make the last train out to Belgrave, it was clear the crowd were more than ready for the night’s stars to begin. As The Hard Aches made their way onto stage wearing their #ittakesone shirts – a movement close to their hearts, championed by punk trio Camp Cope – singer Ben David and drummer Alex Upton jumped straight into Mess, inciting an early mass sing-a-long through the hook “We’re not burning out!”
I Freak Out and Glad That You’re Gone from 2016’s I Freak Out EP received huge receptions; in fact it was amazing to hear how much of the new album the crowd knew, considering it had been out for less than 24 hours. Sharehouse horror story Get Outta My House and long distance love-themed Warm Blooded have clearly become immediate fan favourites.
Craig Selak of The Bennies was welcomed out to help deliver Outline, and he handed out high-fives, hugs, and kind words about the night’s headliners in a touching sentiment (echoed by the enthusiastic crowd). The evening’s second guests were the returning A&TLS frontwoman Susan – sporting her acoustic guitar – and Camp Cope’s Georgia Maq, to perform my personal favourite and “the song from the radio”, Happy. It was just as special live as through your speaker. Maq’s stage presence was magnetic; swaying her arms along with Upton’s drumline, you couldn’t wipe the smile off her face as she watched her close friends perform the biggest headline show of their career.
Mess by The Hard Aches is out now via Anchorhead.
The Hard Aches still have six shows left on their tour, in Adelaide, Canberra, Newcastle, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. Get tickets here.