Gig review: The Laurels, Lansdowne Hotel, 8/7/2011


Three supports ensured audience members were soaked in an array of noise and primed for the headline act.

Openers Ghastly Spats were nervous and it showed. While the frontman tonelessly screamed over messy guitar rock, the female vocalists were under-used. They need a few more shows under their belt to become a tight live act.

By contrast Kill City Creeps were finely honed with both style and substance. With a charismatic frontman rolling eyes and yelping with bluesy effect, their 60s garage rock vibe escaped caricature and enveloped us in a sing-song, nod-your-head and tap your foot wave.

The final support before the main act, Sounds Like Sunset, took the evening’s sound in yet another direction, with a resolutely 90s post-rock atmosphere descending on the venue. Their indie slacker sound had a calming effect before the main act.

The Laurels are probably the best live band in Sydney – we haven’t done a city wide survey or anything, but they’re pretty hard to beat. It would have been easy for them to come on stage, turn the guitars to 11 and fiddle with the whammy bar for a half hour and call it a set, but instead they were a blast of energy.

Luke O’Farrell was the irresistibly entertaining blur of blonde hair and guitar, thrashing on his side of stage for most of the set. Playing new songs along with those from their five-years-coming EP Mesozoic, the barrage of noise upon first tune was defiantly loud. One can only wonder how anyone without earplugs didn’t have blood streaming from their ears by the end of the show. Black Cathedral received an enamoured response, as Kate Wilson pummelled the skins with skill and Piers Cornelius’ vocals were surprisingly decipherable. Conor Hanna towered over the audience with his steadfast bass remaining the sonic glue between his fellow bandmates.

What The Laurels are doing is special. There’s no better way to express it. They’re aggressively loud but not self-indulgent, they know how to weave melody into each of their prolonged jams and by the time O’Farrell was done smashing his guitar on the floor and disappearing, everyone in the audience knew they had witnessed a local band who are creating something bigger than the sum of their parts.

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