Winning Triple J’s Unearthed Award can do wonders to small, local bands, with Tired Lion riding a wave of success since they nabbed the prestigious title. After a whirlwind national tour they’ll be representing Australia at UK festival Glastonbury next month, as well as appearing at numerous music events around Europe. They wrapped up the last leg of their tour at Capitol on Saturday night; ready to take a well-earned break before heading overseas.
Verge Collection did exactly what a good support act should do, warm up the crowd and get people dancing. The band was actually down one member for the night, with lead guitarist Bryn Ryan failing to show up – whether an accident or by choice is still a mystery. This seemed to place extra pressure on frontman Ben Arnold, with him occasionally dropping notes throughout their set. During ‘Feel Bad Songs’, the distinct Aussie twang in Arnold’s voice resembled a male Courtney Barnett: blunt and flat; yet captivating to listen to. A bizarre cover of ‘Say My Name’ by Destiny’s Child caught everyone off guard, Verge Collection’s folk rock sound making it almost unrecognisable – an impressive feat for such a well-known pop song.
Up next were The Hard Aches, a punk rock duo hailing from Adelaide. The Hard Aches unleashed a torrent of angst on the crowd during ‘Loser’ and ‘Pheromones’, edgy tracks that were reminiscent of early 2000’s American punk bands. As David’s voice whined out during ‘Old Man Hands’, each song seemed to merge into the next, lacking any significant difference between them. But without a bassist it’s hard to vary the sound; and as David said “death to bass players” it was clear they weren’t interested in adding to their line-up. Sipping beer from a jug, David dedicated ‘Glad That You’re Gone’ to Sophie Hopes from Tired Lion – perhaps as a final goodbye after touring with her.
Capitol was barely half full when Tired Lion crashed onto stage, a disappointing turn out considering their Melbourne show sold out. They launched straight into their heavier tracks, ripping through ‘Pretend’ and ‘Desperate’ with a ferocious pace. Frontwoman Sophie Hopes’ high-pitched voice perfectly contradicted the bands scuzzy grunge sound, cutting cleanly through the buzzing guitars and crashing drums. Diehard fans passionately sang along to every song, until, with a smile, Hopes said, “you’re not going to know the lyrics to this,” launching into unreleased track ‘Keeping Me Awake’ – an aggressive song that was well received. As one crowd surfer clambered onto stage during ‘I Don’t Think You Like Me’, a security guard ran out and pushed him off, causing him to land awkwardly on the floor. Disgusted, Hopes dedicated the song to the security guard and invited the crowd surfer back on stage, allowing him one final leap of faith. Although Tired Lion’s performance was excellent, their energy couldn’t save the lifeless crowd, who were incredibly subdued throughout the set. I can’t help but think the final leg of their tour would have been far more intimate and energetic if it was in a smaller place, like Capitol’s sister venue Amplifier Bar.