How many times have you showed up to a gig right when the doors are meant to open, only to be left waiting an extra half an hour to get in, and then another half an hour or so for the first band to start? It pretty much happens all the time, it’s just an accepted practice of live music. Knowing this, I didn’t rush to get to The Hi-Fi. I couldn’t remember if doors opened at 7:30 or 8, but 8 seemed safe so I showed up just after 8:30, thinking I’d get there just as people were settling in. I was wrong. As I made my way to the venue, I heard We Lost The Sea already playing, and made it for the tail end of their set.
The whole night seemed to run suspiciously on time, but it was a welcome change – aside from missing the first part of We Lost The Sea’s set. After the passing of vocalist Chris Torpy, WLTS have been playing instrumental sets, however tonight was the last. It was also their last gig before they take some time off to work on their next release, so it was lucky I at least caught part of the set. I never really know what to do with myself during an instrumental set, but while they were playing it just didn’t matter. Admittedly, it felt like something I would listen to as I lay in bed shrouded in darkness, but they were captivating, and mesmerising to see. Each song took you on a journey – albeit a dark, and dramatic journey – but while my body remained against the barrier at The Hi-Fi, each note carried my mind to a far off place. When their set came to a close, one by one each member walked off stage, as the final notes rung out and the curtains closed. It was a dramatic end to a powerful set. I look forward to going on another journey with WLTS when they return.
I had no idea what to expect from Teal, and while they aren’t what I would normally listen to, they played a great set. I didn’t know much about Teal before tonight, and the psychedelic vibe (think a heavier Muse or The Mars Volta) took The Hi-Fi on a collective trip – no drugs required. It’s always great to see a band genuinely stoked to be up on stage, and Teal couldn’t have looked happier. I was a little worried about the lead singer (Joe) as he busted out his best Peter Garrett dance moves (don’t worry, he looked cooler than Garrett) at every opportunity. There wasn’t much breathing room on stage and when Joe let loose I was genuinely concerned he would fall over an amp or on to the drum kit. Luckily, no injuries were sustained. No member of the band was simply playing music though, they were the music. You could see it on their faces, and in the way they moved that the music became them. Teal were a great pick me up after the darker WLTS set.
For a few years, every once in a while someone would bring up The Red Paintings, and every time I would tell myself that I should listen to them. It wasn’t until earlier this year that I actually did. I instantly became obsessed and then like magic, they announced a tour. The Red Paintings is more than just live music – it’s an entire art exhibition. When the curtains opened the stage was dark, with the only light coming from the masks worn by the human canvases as they hypnotised the crowd while they moved rhythmically to Frank from Donnie Darko informing us “the world will end in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes, and 12 seconds.” Then out walked Trash McSweeney (vocals/guitar), Alix Kol (violin/vocals), Emma Baker (cello), Mitch McLennan (bass) and Andy Davis (drums) – and it began. Seeing The Red Paintings live – particularly for the first time – is an experience like no other, and it is something I will probably never experience again.
When I interviewed Trash I asked how they could recreate the huge sound of The Revolution Is Never Coming during a live performance, and he told me that people would often tell him how they sound bigger and more aggressive live than on CD. So it was more a case of recreating that large sound on a record. And those people were not wrong. While The Revolution Is Never Coming sounds huge – how could it not with a 35-piece orchestra and 22-person backing choir – The Red Paintings still somehow managed to sound even bigger live, with a fraction of what was used to make the record. I can only conclude that Trash is a wizard. I know this all sounds rather gushy, but I assume when people say they had a religious experience, that it’s the same feeling I had while The Red Paintings performed. I know they played all of my favourites, “Dead Children”, “Dead Adults”, “Streets Fell Into My Window,” “Hong Kong” – but I can’t remember in what order – aside from finishing off with an encore of “The Revolution Is Never Coming.” I don’t even remember what they opened with – my gut says “You’re Not One Of Them”, but I just can’t be sure. Why? Because as soon as they came on, I was in a trance and I felt apart of everything. The walls of The Hi-Fi disappeared, and so did everyone around me. It was just me and The Red Paintings.
When I wasn’t in awe of Alix’s insane shredding on the violin, I was transfixed by the amazing art being created right before my eyes. This was an invitation to the mind of Trash and it’s not something to take lightly. He looked over everything while they played, I can only assume making sure that only what he needed, and wanted, entered his world. He seemed to be as hypnotised as myself, and I imagine everyone else there, but his gratitude for the fans did not go unheard. Dedicating a song to a Brisbane fan who took her own life, and another to his brother and the girl who takes care of the forums and merch, proves just how much Trash cares about each and every member of The Red Paintings fan base.
When I first heard The Revolution Is Never Coming I was left adrenalised, yet exhausted, I can’t even find the words to describe how I felt after seeing them live. I will say this though, it was over all too soon, and I can’t wait to escape with The Red Paintings again, and again, and again…