Walking into the venue, initial impressions were good. It certainly looked interesting. I was somewhat concerned about how the sound would come across in such a large concrete space, but I was optimistic. After waiting an hour for the first band (seriously, why would you advertise a gig as starting at 7:30 when the first band doesn't even get onstage until closer to 8:45?), Yves Klein Blue finally took to the stage. It was my first time seeing the band, and my initial thought was "hmmm, I can see where that $20k they won from that Kickstart competition went to?". In other words, they were decked out with some nice gear. My second thought was "hmmm, this sound is muffled and thin".
It seems to me that as nice as The Powerhouse is, it's not exactly the best place to see an energetic rock show. The huge space sucks up any energy that the band puts out, and the concrete walls that surround the performance area take care of any clarity that might have been found in the sound (maybe it was just because I was up on the walkways above the stage, out of the direct line of the speakers, but still, 1/3 of the audience was up there with me). Add the fact that the venue was maybe half full, and it became a difficult task for the bands to put on an engaging show. Personally, I thought that Yves Klein Blue struggled. They certainly have that British guitar pop/rock sound down pat, but to me they seemed to lack a bit of energy and spark. I just couldn't hear the hooks in their songs, and with the type of music they choose to play, melodic hooks are vital. Maybe it was just the sound of the venue, or maybe they're just not the next big thing that some people hail them as. I haven't heard their EP, so I'll wait before passing a more definitive judgement on the band. One thing is inarguable: they played for too long. My companions and I all agreed that they played at least three songs too many. For a local band playing first on the bill with only one EP to their name, a 45+minute set is too much. Then again, maybe that was the intention of Faster Louder when putting on this particular show - to put local bands on the same level as an international act. Whatever the reason, my point remains: too long.
I Heart Hiroshima faired somewhat better. Their lack of bass guitar helped to reduce the muffling effect of the venue, and their music is generally more frantic than that of Yves Klein Blue. Personally I've found a lot of the IHH shows I've seen in recent times to be somewhat lacking when compared to their early shows, where they used to rip your heads off with their aggression. While I think that they have undoubtably grown as songwriters over the last few years, live they have seemed lethargic and, at times, somewhat apathetic. This was not the case this particular night - the band was in good form, putting on the best show I've seen from them in quite a while. The only real criticism I have of them is that they had some really long breaks between songs. Their songs are generally quite short anyway, so to have a 1-2min break between them can kind of grind the show to a halt. Still, it was only an issue a couple of times through the set, so as far as the music went it was a good performance.
Tilly & The Wall finished off the evening. I'm sure there will be plenty of reviews of them elsewhere, so since they're not really within the scope of this blog I'll just say that my friend and I left after a few songs. Maybe if a) the venue had sound that was more conducive to their style of music, b) their tap-dancer wasn't sick, c) I wasn't so tired and d) they hadn't taken the stage to repeated calls of 'Brisbane, where the fuck are you!?', I might have stayed.
One thing I'd just like to mention: although I've repeatedly said that I didn't think much of the sound of the venue, I still think it can be a great place to see music. It would be an amazing place to see a more atmospheric band, like Bloon or Art of Fighting. Perhaps if the sound could be dampened in some way, so it wasn't so unclear, it would be suitable for more 'rock' acts too.