Canberra may not be known for its exuberant, overactive nightlife, but when heading out into the cold of an August night, dancing becomes a necessity. Especially at a Bluejuice gig.

The Preatures (formerly known as The Preachers) drew a decent chunk of the early-arriving punters in to watch, and tellingly, most of them hung around for the duration of their set.

As a band, they had a terrific sense of melody, throwing guitar stabs and slow, wavering chords out into the onlooking crowd. There weren’t many massive hooks, but they didn’t need them – the crowd were reeled in in other ways.

Gideon Bensen’s vocal parts were hard to discern, but his occasional high-pitched yelps were all too entertaining. Isabella Manfredi had an enviable vocal range, though more impressive was her ability to captivate the crowd.

Mesmerising and hypnotic in her mannerisms, she stared ahead at everyone with but the slightest grin as she sang. She didn’t need to resort to overactive stunts to draw attention – she had it from the moment she opened her mouth.

Deep Sea Arcade launched onto the stage next, bringing with them their shimmering, high-energy rock. Nic McKenzie’s vocals had a distinctly Brit-rock flavour to them, and while that took some getting used to, he was consistently strong in his style – something to be applauded.

Rhythmically, Deep Sea Arcade held the crowd’s attention as they slowly piled into the room. Intense drumming provided the backbone for their songs, as frantic guitar effects piled on top of each other to create a very distinct and personal sound.

McKenzie’s attempts at warming up the crowd were hit and miss, but as he moved around the stage pouring himself into the songs, he provided an engaging sight for those watching.

With nothing visible but their glowing instruments, Bluejuice came onto the stage. The crowd had by this time filled the room up, and everyone had forgotten that it was winter at all.

Decked in their fluro tape and glowing clothes, it was then that the real party started. Kicking things off with Company opener “Can’t Keep Up”, frontmen Jake Stone and Stavros Yiannoukas leapt around the stage.

Belting through hits like “Vitriol”, “Act Your Age”, and “Cheap Trix”, there was barely a moment for anyone to breathe – something indicative of the best and worst of gigs. In Bluejuice’s case, it was well and truly a case of the former.

Easily one of the funniest and most engaging frontmen in the live arena, Jake Stone leapt into the crowd multiple times, at one point losing his microphone.

His energy and hilarious comments seemed to come from a lack of care about what anyone thought, and in a musical environment when ‘brand’ and image can often take precedence over musical substance, it was more than refreshing.

Pleasingly though, Bluejuice weren’t lacking in substance or talent either, with the rest of the band sounding excellent behind both Jake and Stav, supporting their dance-worthy pop throughout the entire set.

Closing with a cover of KWS’s “Please Don’t Go”, Bluejuice topped off a great night of singalongs and energetic performances. Although sincere in his comments, Stone needn’t worry too much about the up-and-coming Australian talent supporting his band.

Bluejuice are on top of their game, and everyone who saw them at ANU Bar would no doubt agree.

– Jeremy Stevens