Live Review: Father Deer Hands @ Tomcat

27 March 2023 | 3:07 pm | Dylan Oxley

Their debut live appearance in Brisbane saw Father Deer Hands get the warmest welcome.

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In a world where you can make radio-ready music in your bedroom, and an overwhelming multitude of artists are at your disposal online, it’s hard to set yourself apart and get recognition. A new band that particularly stands out from the crowd in the Australian heavy scene is Sydney emo-punk outfit Father Deer Hands. The quirky quartet kicked off their Sad Souls Don’t Float Upstream tour at Tomcat in Brisbane last night to an intimate room of eager fans.

Brisbane emo-pop act Nervous Light opened the night with their experimental punk sound to get punters engaged. The trio mix big riffs, picked melodies and dirty basslines with electronic samples to create sad songs you can dance to. From catchy hooks to fun breakdowns, Nervous Light warmed the crowd with solid banter in between. The set featured their debut EP in its entirety and an unreleased old song to combine gentle moments and upbeat jams with layered cleans and raw screams.

Up next was Brisbane easycore quartet Sentiment – possibly the funniest crew in the local scene. After minor technical issues, the band launched into their set of angry verses and sweet choruses with spontaneous breakdowns. A mosh pit opened the room, and the band captivated with animated stagecraft for the heavier parts. Each track had chaotic arrangements, and the eclectic set included covers of Good Charlotte’s Dance Floor Anthem and Of Mice & Men's belter Bones Exposed. They ended with a self-titled track representing the band’s many talents in a single song.

Another local support in melodic hardcore five-piece Hollow Doubt kept the energy up from the get-go. Frenetic passages with intricate riffs over chugs and fast breaks set the tone for the frontman’s on-stage antics. One moment he was on the floor amongst the crowd; the next, he was on a wooden ledge before it broke (after which the mic level suspiciously dipped). They ended their set with one last breakdown that split the room and saw a select few let loose in the middle. Hollow Doubt may have been the most boisterous act of the night, yet what they lacked in subtlety, they made up for in spectacle.

Esteemed headliners Father Deer Hands took to the stage with a screamed introduction and immediately turned things up. Opening with Sunlight Dance, the band dazzled with deft guitarwork and dynamic vocals in a passionate performance (has ‘arf-arf’ finally replaced the blegh?). They announced it was their first time in Brisbane and praised the crowd for their strong support of local bands, even having a round of shots handed to them by one fan. The appreciative quartet played their entire catalogue and an unreleased new song, closing with Factory Reset while spinning guitars around necks and jumping down to the floor for a moving finale.

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With a spotlight on emerging local bands and three hours of manic fun, Father Deer Hands know how to bring people together through personal struggles. If the Brisbane show of the Sad Souls Don’t Float Upstream tour is anything to go by, the rest of the East Coast is in for a treat.