Hockey Dad Brisbane Review @ The Triffid

Hockey Dad played The Triffid (Brisbane) 5 October, 2018. Hockey Dad played The Triffid (Brisbane) 5 October, 2018. Image © Robbie Atkin-Robertson

I quietly totalled the number of times I’ve seen Hockey Dad perform.

Four gigs in total, including festivals, were counted on my fingers, five including their impending set at The Triffid (5 October).

Tiny Little Houses were a little less familiar, having only watched them once. I entered as the band were rounding off their set as the support. The frontman and guitarist (perhaps even the drummer) donned Hockey Dad t-shirts; despite not headlining the band had seemingly drawn the entire sold-out crowd.

‘Short Hair’ successfully made regular radio rotation upon release, though admittedly it took listening live to appreciate the track. Slow-build verses and an outburst in the chorus, it's angsty sounding, though lyrically the opposite; so much tongue-in-cheek embedded in its cleverly worded line: 'I like to let my short hair down'.

“That was fun,” singer Caleb Karvountzis laughed. “Once again, we’d like to thank Hockey Dad. This is our last song for the night – it’s a shame we have to go.” The four-piece finished with 'Garbage Bin', a perfect example of their wordsmithing prowess. Only six months since I’d reviewed them last, though they appeared years-worth more at ease.

‘At ease’ applied to Hockey Dad too, unsurprising after such extensive touring.

The duo entered without a word, crowd filling the room with excited roars. They started the set with ‘Disappoint Me’, a ‘Blend Inn’ underdog; the words weren’t known enough to recite but the chorus's “oohs, oohs” were cooed.

Hockey Dad.2Hockey Dad - image © Robbie Atkin-Robertson

Their highest-streamed was surrendered early, ‘I Need A Woman’ an innocent, boyhood anthem. “Brisbane, how’s it going?” vocalist Zach Stephenson asked. “It’s great to be back for round two.”

Back-to-back 'Boronia' tracks followed with ‘Can’t Have Them’ and ‘Laura’, another sweet-worded beauty ('I can’t help it, she’s too perfect'). Zach swiftly switched guitars for ‘Blend Inn’ starting song, ‘My Stride’.

“Are you nice and warmed up now?” the crowd was asked, Zach’s instrument tuned off stage. “Billy tells excellent stage banter,” he joked. Billy chuckled, Zach continued: “Billy’s sh.t at guitar.”

Zach's vocal range shone in ‘A Night Out With’ (low in the verses, high in the chorus), next announcing: “Okay, we’re going to play a slow song.” The audience respectfully changed their momentum for the sombre addition to Hockey Dad’s discography, ‘Danny’; it was paired with the band’s most token leisurely mover, ‘Seaweed’ – “You guys are awesome,” Zach praised afterwards.

Click here to read our recent review of Hockey Dad's Sydney show.

‘Beach House’ was perhaps the least familiar of the bunch, released in 2014 though rarely performed live. It was almost strange, hearing a Hockey Dad track and not effortlessly humming its melody.

On the contrary, ‘I Want To Be Everybody’ was almost instantly recognised, the second single from ‘Blend Inn’ followed by fan favourite, ‘Join The Club’. Lyrically, both songs are massive indicators of songwriting progression – and even maturity – the duo switching from lines that scream of youth ('We can’t, we can’t have them, they’re just, they’re just too pretty'), to existential questioning ('Pop the collar, spend a dollar, wear those boots.

Hockey Dad.3Hockey Dad - image © Robbie Atkin-Robertson

You get a rough idea of what they want from you'). ‘Jump The Gun’ proved nicely contrasting, lyrics lighter: 'I don’t want to go home, I’m having too much fun'. They covered ‘Alright’ by Supergrass, before launching into the high energy ‘Raygun’.

Zach sipped what appeared to be straight Jamieson whiskey, swigging from the bottle before thanking the audience. “We’ve got one more song, see ya next time we’re here,” closing the set with their grungiest, ‘Homely Feeling’.

An encore ensued with Zach entering the stage alone, crowd practically silent as he performed an emotion drenched ‘Two Forever’. “Now it’s Billy’s time to shine!” I cheered, the drummer sitting and adjusting the mic; he made his singing debut with ‘Sweet Release’, the duo finishing with ‘So Tired’.

‘At ease’, indeed, and perhaps that’s an understatement, Hockey Dad appeared more at home on stage than I feel in my own apartment. Twelve straight months of international tours radiated from the duo like sunbeams, their two-instrument sound more deceiving that ever, and tighter, crisper than I’ve witnessed.

Though despite the tidy performance, their gig still embodied the gritty elements you’d expect (and hope) from an Australian surf-rock show. Breezy banter (“I hate you, Billy. Nah, I love you. I love to hate you.”), brave crowd surfers, and an unrelenting mosh pit that lolled and rolled like the roughest of Australia’s own oceans.

Hockey Dad.4Hockey Dad - image © Robbie Atkin-Robertson

As for those sunbeams – it wasn’t only their experience as touring musicians that felt luminescent.

Despite the gradual shift in sound from EP one (‘Dreamin’) to their 2018 record (‘Blend Inn’), something about the band’s songwriting, despite being instrumentally simple, is consistently warm and endorphin-boosting.

On each of my fingers, I wear a Hockey Dad gig, five in total (and counting) over only two years. Here’s to the next couple – see how many of the duo’s sets my hands are carrying by 2020.


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