GIVING SMALL BACK-STORIES TO A FEW SONGS GAVE MORE DEPTH TO THE ALREADY EXTREMELY HONEST, HEART ON YOUR SLEEVE LYRICS.

On April 15th, Exchange held the first UK date of The Smith Street Band and Restorations‘ joint European tour.

Openers Astpai kicked off the show as people strayed from the allure of the sun and filtered into the cold, dark main stage room of Exchange. With no holds barred, they chucked out amazing performances of each song one after another, occasionally stopping to breathe in the shadow of the sampled ‘Suburban Prelude’ intro. Eventually the audience gave out the seal of approval in the form of unison head bobbing in time with the acrobatic antics going on onstage. Maintaining a constant high energy throughout the set, Astpai finished up with some of their slower, more lyrical songs – probably to foreshadow the next act, Laura Stevenson.

With nothing but a shaky wooden chair and her guitar, Laura was greeted by a silent room of piercing eyes, although they were soon to be left entranced and fixed to the stage as each song played out. The blanket of silence was lifted while her quirky Tegan and Sara-esque on stage audience interaction brought out some laughter amongst the darkness. Giving small back stories to a few songs gave more depth to the already extremely honest, heart on your sleeve kind of lyrics, which just further encapsulated the attention of the room. Laura brought up the mood near the end of the set with a “happier sounding song about being depressed”, leading us into the next band, Restorations.

Appearing like a four-man marching line, Restorations took to the stage with a complementary one step forward from everyone as they jumped straight into the well-known ‘D’. They continued to play a mix of hard-hitting tracks from the popular LP2 as well as a few unfamiliar oldies. Overcoming the fatigue of jetlag, frontman Jon Loudon threw himself into each section injecting raw power into each vocal line, as well as the occasional thrust-your-guitar-into-the-ceiling trick. Dace Klyman’s guitar playing technique also catches the eye, flailing his arms into every strum he makes even the more demanding effect layering and lead sections seem effortless as well as being extremely fun to watch – not to say the rest of the band lacked in anyway whatsoever; they all played with conviction and a smile on their face the whole time. They seemed like they were having fun, as you’d imagine any band playing a UK tour for the first time would.

Holding the weight of a twenty-seven hour flight, The Smith Street Band, maintained the super charged, energetic atmosphere when they exploded into their set, putting in fan-favourites like ‘Don’t Fuck with Our Dreams’, which of course had the entire room shouting out the chorus. After a long list of gratuitous shout outs and thank you’s to break up the set, The Smith Street Band were interrupted by the shouting of “Play one more song! Please!” by a drunken patron (who I can only assume thought the show was almost over). To this, Wil Wagner quickly replied “Well, we’ve got three more that I was hoping to play but we could play just one if you’d like”, delighting the rest of the audience. Playing into their closing song they really gave it their all, ending with more blessings and receiving an abundance of support from the crowd the night ended on an extremely high note.

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