Review: Bad//Dreems supported by Hannah Kate and The Pretty Littles at The Croxton Bandroom, Melbourne, November 1st, 2019
Earlier this year, Aussie rock fans were ecstatic to learn that Adelaide’s Bad//Dreems were back with another new album, Doomsday Ballet. Their first since 2017, this announcement also brought with it only their second national tour since the latter’s launch two years back.
Needless to say, excitement was high, and with the group kicking off their run of shows with gigs in Brisbane and Sydney last week, fans began to get a taste of what was in store, with stories of sweaty mosh pits and blistering live performances spilling out onto social media.
So when it became time for Bad//Dreems to hit up Melbourne’s Croxton Bandroom on Friday night, the band knew that their fans would be out in full force to give them the intense reaction that is expected by this point.
Check out ‘Morning Rain’ by Bad//Dreems:
As doors opened and the audience slowly began to trickle in, it was to a far-too small crowd that Hannah Kate helped opened up the evening. Describing themselves as a garage pop four-piece, their chilled vibes were undoubtedly a welcome beginning to a night that was bound to get a little bit rougher.
As deep bass grooves helped to steady their breezy, laidback sound, it wasn’t long before the band kicked things up a few notches, adding some distortion to the mix and soon turning it into a forceful rock number within mere seconds.
With a tendency to bust out some immensely catchy tunes, such as ‘Cry July’ and ‘Moreland’, Hannah Kate soon found themselves with more than a few new fans as their set continued, with their unexpected mix of blissed-out, wah-effected guitars being mixed in with the alt-rock that truly helped set them apart as a fine group of musicians.
Undoubtedly though, the only complaint lies with the audience members who didn’t get themselves down to the venue early enough to discover a new favourite band to help soundtrack the upcoming summer months.
Check out ‘Cry July’ by Hannah Kate:
As more people began to flow in to the venue, it was clear that fans were getting eager to hear some full-on rock music, with the front of stage slowly filled up as Melbourne’s The Pretty Littles began to set up.
Having played alongside Bad//Dreems in the past, some punters were already aware of what to expect from their boisterous quartet, while others were about to be educated.
As equipment was set up, frontman Jack Parsons quietly kicked off the set with a cover of Bad//Dreems’ ‘Too Old’ in solo mode, fooling some in the audience to thinking that they were just witnessing an extended soundcheck. However, as it continued on, folks moved forward in an effort to get in prime position for what was about to take place.
Within moments, the full band had joined in and we were off to one of the best support slots you’ll witness in your life. With Parsons moving around the stage and belting out the lyrics like his life depended on it, The Pretty Littles’ forceful indie-rock was enough to get folks in the mood, with elbows and beer flying in the mosh before we were even a few tracks deep.
Dishing out stunning tracks like ‘Weekend Away’ and ‘Don Dale’, the band drew numerous singalongs to their catchy tracks, as Parson’s face frequently gave way to a smile that showed he was having just as much fun as the rest of us.
Featuring a sound that ranged from the classic alt-rock of the Pixies, to an almost hardcore punk style, and back to the power pop of groups like The Replacements within seconds, it was clear that The Pretty Littles are not only a versatile live act, but also one of the finest live bands you’ll find around Melbourne.
Check out ‘Don Dale’ by The Pretty Littles:
As the crowd deserted the mosh pit in search of respite, beer, and likely a trip to the bathroom to wipe the sweat from their faces, the stage curtain drew and it was clear that something big was about to take place.
Before too long, a huge crowd had amassed, and we were getting ready to witness Bad//Dreems unleash one of their most intense sets to date.
Kicking things off with album opener ‘Morning Rain’, it was obvious that folks had done their homework, with a mass of voices joining frontman Ben Marwe as he went into the first chorus and gave way to a collective of sweaty bodies pulsing in joy at the front of the stage.
As guitarists Alex Cameron and Ali Wells masterfully kicked off the intro to the boisterous ‘Salad’, it became clear that there was to be no rest for anyone for quite some time.
With drummer Miles Wilson and bassist James Bartold delivering a powerful rhythm section, Marwe spat out the lyrics like a man possessed, pacing around as his enigmatic stage behaviour served as the modern Australian continuation of what David Byrne began all those years earlier.
As the intensity continued to rise with classics like ‘Dumb Ideas’, ‘Johnny Irony’, and ‘Hoping For’, the likes of ‘Sally’s Place’ served as a slow-burner that soon had the entire audience on side, chanting out the lyrics with a joyful exuberance rarely seen at this level.
Check out ‘Mob Rule’ by Bad//Dreems:
While new favourites like the intense ‘Piss Christ’ and the Bruce Springsteen-esque ‘Northern’ served as clear winners for the night, the likes of crowd favourites ‘My Only Friend’ and ‘Hume’ saw at least one cry of “fuck, this feels intimate” rising from somewhere within the crowd.
However, the intimate nature of the gig was about to give way to something far more extreme, with a rapid-fire delivery of hefty tracks like ‘Bogan Pride’, ‘Double Dreaming’, and ‘Mob Rule’ seeing the main set closed out with a massive influx of crowd-surfers, and frontman Ben Marwe belting out his lyrics from the barrier.
Following a short retreat from the stage (which is really how encores should be done), Bad//Dreems returned to close things out properly with the furious one-two punch of 2015’s ‘Naden’, and their iconic cover of ‘My Pal’, from Melbourne’s legendary God.
As the final notes rang out, flashing lights, a barrage of feedback, and a wasteland of upended instruments and microphone stands left us to reflect on what we had just seen, with the band taking their leave as fans nursed bruised ribs and buzzing eardrums.
With Bad//Dreems having been on the scene for a number of years now, one could be forgiven for thinking that their live shows would begin to wind down their intensity, with the band no longer having anything to prove to their eager and dedicated fans.
However, this is far from the case, with the band’s shows displaying that it feels like things are only just beginning, as the brutal display of riffs and solos complementing powerful rhythms and vocals in such a way that it’s clear that Bad//Dreems will one day be revered by historians as one of the finest Australian rock bands to have ever existed.
Truly, to witness Bad//Dreems live should be considered a rite of passage for any self-respecting fan of Australian music; you’ll never view live music the same way again.
Check out ‘Double Dreaming’ by Bad//Dreems:
Bad//Dreems’ Doomsday Ballet Album Tour
With special guests Cash Savage & The Last Drinks
Friday, November 8th
Rock Rover, Fremantle, WA
Saturday, November 9th
(With Ethanol Blend)
The Govenor Hindmarsh, Adelaide, SA
Tickets on sale now through the Bad//Dreems website
Bad//Dreems @ The Croxton Bandroom, Melbourne 1/11/19 Setlist
‘My Only Friend’
‘Cuffed & Collared’
‘My Pal’ (God cover)