All photography by Claire Warren
The cleared room, the instruments propped up in a corner, the queue to the bathroom and the friendly faces spilling out onto the street. There isn’t much that compares to a house show. Using backyards and lounge rooms as their stage, Canberra's DIY shows harness a unique character and charm, never to be done the same way twice. This night hosted a great all Canberra line-up of Hymmnn, The Narcissists, Box Dye and Enfants.
Hymmnn have been on my radar for a long time, yet before the bash I had never seen them. Made of familiar faces you are sure to have seen in other projects and bands, the noise rock group presented a loud abrasive set of feedback, chaos and surprisingly a lot of groove. A compelling mixture of Michael Hutchence and Darby Crash, front man Leighton spent a great deal of time between the floor and the arms of those tossing him around the room. Perfectly switching between turbulent wails and heavy riffage, each member provided their own pillar of ferocity, inciting the noise that ensued. Warming up the crowd, Hymmnn displayed the rooms capabilities and with some quick adjustments, unscrewing the ceiling lightbulb, the evenings tone was now set.
There are few bands that pull a regular crowd the way The Narcissists do. It doesn’t seem to matter whether you’ve seen them a hundred times or more, the crowds never dwindle.
With debut release 'Down To The Water' under their belts, The Narcissists managed a productive 2020 full of notable shows and the addition of Mark Wilson (Slow Dial, HYG) on second guitar. Their ever evolving Sabbath-esque riffs made more potent with another set of strings. A true testament to their relentless gigging over the years, not a song went by that the crowd didn't recognise or sing along to. Tom’s strong vocals rumbled over the hypnotic bass lines and surf-rock hooks that filled the sweaty shoulder riding room. It wasn't long before their cover of Peep Tempels’ ‘Carol’ had everyone singing together again for a memorable moment. An old favourite, you couldn’t choose a better time to go see them.
A quick shift from the machismo displayed in the previous set, Box Dye opened with ‘Gran’ before calling all girls to the front for a song reflecting on male dominated industries. Ever improving and ever growing since their first show in 2019, Box Dye have become a constant in Canberra's scene while staying true to their engaging punk spirit. The shifting vocals of each member were overshadowed when the room passionately joined them to sing each word of ’Julia’. Before the dark doomy riffs of ’Stage Mum’ we got an amped version of ‘Teenage Dirtbag’, another certified sing along. Finishing off, Box Dye delivered the incredibly catchy and heart warming track ‘Best Friends Kids’. You can’t drown a witch and you certainly can’t overlook Box Dye.
The perfect balance of abrasive energy and expansive melodies, Enfants showcased just that in their second ever show. The room now packed back to front with anticipation, Enfants launched into a stark primal opening track. Vocalist Jake's one of a kind growl punched in perfectly with the songs pulse, before letting loose over the vast melodies of Ryan’s expansive guitar work. Also made of familiar faces, Enfants make up three quarters of Canberra, grunge heavy-weights, Babe Fiasco. The band went from strength to strength as each song received increased praise and applause, the lone Rollins poster overseeing the spirited moshing and crowdsurfing. Being so well versed with each other, Enfants jumped seamlessly from one idea to the next, tied together by the unwavering rhythm section of Liam and Rhys. A new band surging into Canberra's rotation, Enfants have left their Doc Marten shaped mark and will have people talking about this show for a long time to come.
A memorable evening in Canberra. See you at the next one
10/10 unscrewed lightbulbs
Claire Warren photography: https://www.instagram.com/claireandlouise_/?hl=en
Box Dye: https://www.facebook.com/boxdye
The Narcissist: https://www.facebook.com/thenarcissists.music