Wollongong’s Rad Bar is truly a special place.
For those who don’t know what I’m talking about (which is by no means a shameful thing), Rad Bar is the town of Wollongong’s barely 100 capacity, strictly DIY venue that boasts the crowd of any local show, but carries the same cultural significance as say, the Oxford Art Factory or the Workers Club down in Melbourne. Rich is the history of this space, with the likes of Polaris, Basement, Daywave, and Vices (RIP) all contributing semi-recent memorable sets to the proud history of a live room that helps keep Wollongong on the list of essential tour stopovers for growing artists.
It then made perfect sense, therefore, that Sydney’s Endless Heights should bring their national victory lap of sorts, celebrating February’s lucid and wonderful new LP ‘Vicious Pleasure’, through such a venue. (Read our review of that album right here). It’s the kind of intimate setting where you get to experience music in it’s rawest form. What with tour banners pinned up on the wall behind the bands, not changing the fact that the bands are set up on the floor, with next to no added production, and play their sets literally a bee’s dick from the closest gathered punters – standing right at eye level – evening out the equilibrium of performer and punter.
Such ‘realness’ was well and truly reflected across the entire package of the evening, with shoegaze solo artist Jack R Reilly giving a splendid 30 minutes of thoughtful, heartbroken post-punk to start off the evening. Flanked by a backing band that included both synth and keys players’, in addition to some solid four-part harmonies, Reilly presented the early arriving punters with a wonderful melting pot of folk and punk, utilising silence as well as sheer dynamic power to keep the small audience attentive.
Likewise, Paradise Club brought a refreshing sonic diversity to the bill that made the night feel like a truly rounded-out ‘package.’ With waterfalls of reverb and in-the-pocket timing, the group gave an impressive showing with their ethereal post-punk, not unlike the likes of Black Marble or DIIV.
Their newest single ‘Away’ was particularly beautiful, with the kraut-rock hypnotics of the groove washing over those assembled and bringing an unexpected ‘calmness’ to the evening, one which was well and truly torn open by the tour’s main supports, Harbours.
Now, we are a broad church here at KYS and as such, harbour (sorry not sorry) a wide range of views on this particular Melbourne band ranging from the “yeah, they’re solid” (Alex), to the “fuck no, they’re bad” (Matty) – but the power and energy of the quintet’s live performance was undeniable tonight.
Mixing fresh material with a couple old favourites like ‘Pulling Teeth’ & ‘Is This What You Wanted’, the appeal of their melodic post-hardcore/alternative rock was strong. Closing with the anthemic jam of ‘Take Me Under’, it felt like a wake-up call for the crowd, snapping them out of their previous shoegazey dreams into a sharper rock reality.
This being said, by the time it came to the evening’s headliners, there was still certainly work to do to rev the crowd right into first gear. Thankfully, despite a slow uptake from punters, the energy of what has become the world-touring powerhouse of Endless Heights was infectious as it was stunning.
Tearing through the one-two of ‘You Coward‘ and ‘Goldleaf’, it was clear that the group had well and truly left the punk fury of their youth, embracing a darker, hookier and overall more atmospheric flavour.
“We don’t know how many more times we are gonna play these next few songs again”, said ever ferociously headbanging and fist-swinging front-man Joel Martorana, before the band gifted punters with the one-two of ‘Haunt Me’ and shoegaze triumph ‘Teach You How To Leave‘. These were actually the only two older cuts of the entire night, with the band clearly keeping their feet moving ever-forward artistically and not looking back to the ‘New Bloom‘ era.
The lack of nostalgia may have been jarring for some older fans at first, but the likes of ‘Drain’ and Triple J staple ‘Come A Little Closer’ brought up the energy of those crammed on the floor. Such energy was reciprocated by the band with heartfelt performances of ‘Shiver Down’ and ‘Paralyze’, but it was the crushing march of ‘Run’ that stole the whole show. Both thematically and musically, the song is by far the most ambitious recording the band has ever produced, and even in the tiny confines of RAD, the song’s final and ferocious breakdown still had an earth-shattering effect.
Closing the night out with the pulsating ‘Heart Of Your Lie’ brought about a quick an unexpected end to proceedings, but given the energy, conviction and power of the 45 minutes previous, the effect of such an abrupt stop was jarringly effective. As the final screeching feedback faded and punters shuffled out into the cool, nightly sea-breeze air of Crown Street, one felt that Endless Heights have truly become like a musical espresso; classy, sophisticated but also an immense shot of adrenaline and power that keeps you wanting more.
To showcase such a vulnerable and toxic LP in such a stripped back live setting was always going to take some effort, but when you remove the smoke and stage lights, this band are still as present and as real as ever. And thank God that awesome venues like Rad can still facilitate such quality acts such as Endless Heights.
PC: our Sydney pal, Mitch Strangman – follow more of his killer work over here!