I’ll start by saying that British India are one of the most talented Australian rock bands to grace my ears. Personally for me they’re up there with the likes of Silverchair and Gyroscope. Many bands have tried to reach this level like Children Collide, but haven’t stayed there for long. You know the band’s good when they can last almost ten years with a similar sound, but still manage to make each song full of wondrous variety (personally it’s the lyrics that get me). So you can imagine my excitement when I was lucky enough to score tickets to their sold out show at Capitol, hence why I brushed up on the classics and listened to their new album; Nothing Touches Me, over and over until I was pretty solid in my knowing the entirety of the best songs.
For a pretty solid rock gig, it’s a fairly small place. We luckily got a great spot right at the front of the stage, during Tired Lion and The Grenadiers, this spot was perfection. Sophie Hopes, fuck, if there’s someone else who can throw their mass of hair around and smash out amazing tunes on the guitar at the same time capturing an (unfortunately small) amount of crowd members with just a heavy glare, I don’t want to meet her. She’s won me over, quite easily. Then came The Grenadiers, lead singer, Jesse had a distinguished barber look to him; tattooed arms, thick framed glasses and slicked back red hair. Taking swigs of Jack Daniels whilst screaming out each song at octaves I can’t even imagine exist on any scale. Though what drew me to this support act was the bass player, Phil, even when he wasn’t backing up his mate Jesse, he mouthed each and every lyric to all six songs. The sheer dedication he clearly has to his music is something I admire in a musician; his eyes were lit up, his moves were swift, and his heart was clearly made of solid rock god. Thank you for showing me how alive an artist can truly be!
Then came the anticipated Melbourian foursome, British India Declan Melia fashioning a blue hood, guitar covered in stickers and an attitude to kill waltzed onto stage with his band of merry men, Matt O’Gorman, Will Drummond and Nic Wilson. The great tunes immediately began. No hello, no ‘who’s ready to rock?!’ But isn’t that great? A band that just gets right into it, brings the audience what they so anxiously have waited for. Every song they played was necessary, old and new, and when they reached the fourth song; ‘Tie Up My Hands’, I knew this was going to be a night I’d never forget. Declan said to the crowd, ‘we’ll play new, we’ll play old, and we’ll play whatever the fuck you guys yell out to us before we leave’. The best words I’ve heard a lead singer say to their crowd. No set list and no regime, what do we want? And boy did we respond. Screams for Suddenly, I Said I’m Sorry, Run the Red Light, and guess what? They delivered, every single one. Dedication to the fans is something to be admired.
‘Run the Red Light’ brought the crowd to a roar, the teenager inside me died a little from excitement. The time came for me to chant my favourite mantra that I believe to be some of the best words written by an artist; ‘I hate the way that I don’t say what I want, what I want is I want what you want’. No truer words have captured the idea of love, and what you would do for the person who means everything. The piercing screams that Malia produced reached my heart and many others, the ambiance in the room changed as we all became one, telling British India how much we adore them. Though during this song something happened that unfortunately changed my perspective on the Melbourne band. A young girl shoved her way between myself and our photographer to hand Declan a pill that she told him was ecstasy. He then leant down, took the pill from her hand, and held it for a few seconds, turning around, back facing the crowd. These moments changed my whole perspective on British India completely. Declan could have denied the pill, he could have just thrown it away. But instead he downed the ‘ecstasy’, with no doubt an alcoholic substance from a tacky green Midori cup. Go ahead, call me a prude, say that I’m uptight, but when I pay to see a band I expect them to perform at their full potential, especially a band that’s been around for almost ten years. I don’t expect the front man to take pills on stage that could totally fuck up their performance, showing total disregard for what he gives to his audience.
Though despite what I thought might happen, there was no change to the performance. There was still raw, utter talent thrown at us in the form of indie rock tunes. New songs performed as if they’d been doing them for years. ‘Suddenly’ was thrown into the mix, and everyone chanted once more, fists were in the air and smiles graced fans faces, united in British India we believe. The night was about to finish up, the final song of course was the Triple J Hottest 100 blessed, ‘Wrong Direction’. During this song, a crowd surfer (among you wouldn’t believe how many) made his way to the stage and stood proud next to Declan and Will, belting out ‘so much time in the wrong direction’, smashing out the air guitar until the one security guard for the venue (not enough in my opinion) grabbed his collar and killed his 15 seconds of fame.
Let me finish by saying this, every single band that played on Saturday May 16th in Capitol was stellar, each bringing their own individual sound, making me fall in love with more local talent (Tired Lion). Though there were certain let downs of the night that I couldn’t get past and they, unfortunately, took focus away from British India. I don’t think I’ll ever have enough trust in anyone to jump from a stage and know they’ll catch me. Maybe one day, but last night has definitely dwindled that trust for now. As the number of crowd surfers gained momentum, my girlfriends head was suddenly slammed into a speaker on stage because a drunk was thrown at her attempting to get on stage. No apology necessary apparently. Now, I’ve been to see heavier bands, so has my girlfriend, she’s been to Soundwave and that’s pretty much as rough as it gets, and she said she’d never seen such disregard for a fellow fans safety.
I understand that a band cannot ultimately control how their crowd acts, though usually when they become that violent and can see that some people aren’t exactly enjoying being mauled, they say something. Even just a ‘calm down guys’, but maybe this is their target audience; violent sweaty guys and young girls who can supply drugs at any means. If this is the case then they’ve definitely got what they asked for. British India are loved by so many, and don’t worry, still by me. But maybe they need to start thinking about their actions during their performance, because there was definitely some disappointment. And next time some people might not come back and miss something great.
British India and their fans get a 3/5-crowd surfers to the face.
Photography by Hannah Sorrell