God bless the wonders of the internet, allowing us to watch our favourite bands from the comfort of our own homes; no sticky floors, there’s never a line for the bathroom, and the drinks are dirt cheap. I think I’m getting a little too comfortable here. On Saturday night, Canberra’s Hands Like Houses treated us to their second appearance on ‘Live In Ya Lounge’ for a full-line up show with supports from pals Sputnik Sweetheart and AYA YVES, and here’s how it went down.
Before the show has even kicked off, people are making friends in the chat, discussing the woes of the Melbourne water crisis and lockdown feels, it’s nice to know that even though we aren’t face-to-face we can still make “gig buddies” in these times.
FKA folk-pop act Vendulka – who appeared on season 8 of The Voice – AYA YVES flips her old style into darker territory, flickering in and out of powerful deep tones and airy light licks bringing an ethereal sound mixed with the powerhouse of electro-pop melodies.
Telling the story of getting bad news right before a co-writing session, we really feel how powerful her middle range can be, belting out the emotionally charged ballad she is teary, describing her recent struggles with mental health during the pandemic, ‘Brave’ “goes out to anyone who needs a bit of hope” hitting a killer falsetto over the soft chords of a piano. As ‘Smart Girls’ builds up to a drop that never happens yet instead teases and twists into a cool and funky rapping guitar line, it’s cheeky and fun.
The sweet surf rock riffs of ‘Home Again’ light the chat up as heaps of viewers express their love for the cool indie summer vibes of Sputnik Sweetheart that transport us away from our woes. Getting a little too real, we’re hit with ‘FOMO’ a song about “being on your phone all the time missing out on the world around you” vocalist Nette France commands the stage just like any other fully packed out live show, the entire bands’ stage presence is on point, bouncy and energetic.
We get a little funky with ‘Jealousy’ as a slapping baseline drives the quirky and relatable track as it explodes into a ripping guitar solo and you bet if we were there IRL – and allowed too – we’d be jumping around ferociously. Killer after killer Sputnik Sweetheart are exactly what we all needed during this lockdown, vibrant, powerful, raw energy, exploding with each chorus, each ripping guitar line, thrashing drums and soaring vocals.
Final song ‘Us Girls’ is a powerhouse of sound, all about telling sleazy creeps, “put your lingering hands into your jacket” the lights are pounding to the beat, the energy is off the charts and rest assured the seated patrons are probably aching for a mosh, that’s one good thing about home viewers – time for a solo mosh.
Hands Like Houses
Making use of the lighting abilities, our main event are washed in a sea of pink and orange. Kicking it right off with ‘Space’ they’re joined on stage by a crew of dancers known as the Mercy Crew, who add extra spice to the mix, as vocalist Trenton Woodley signs part of the lyrics to ‘Space’ in AUSLAN.
‘Sick’ is so heavy it makes us all wish we could mosh, and as the playing of ‘Headrush’ sparks some debate in the chat, it’s quickly overturned by how quickly the beginning of fan-favourite ‘Developments’ gets the chat lighting up at rapid speed. It’s got everything, coloured lights that flicker to the beat, audience cheers and woops during songs; it actually feels like if we close our eyes, we’re right there. As Woodley proclaims the next song hasn’t been performed in front of an audience before – except a trial run show – ‘No Mans Land’ is a delightful surprise.
Any song from the ‘Unimagined’ era is treated with love and adoration, as ‘A Tale Of Outer Suburbia’ begins fans again lose their minds, and as I may add, this is my favourite HLH track, and yes there were tears. “This doesn’t look like home / this doesn’t look like home“, the song depicts a wild bear awakening from hibernation to see his habitat destroyed, it’s an all too familiar feeling for right now, navigating the uncertain ways of isolation as our worlds keep changing every time we awaken.
The emotions keep on flowing throughout ‘Momentary’, Woodley touches on the impact of COVID and how tonight gave the option for the band to dive back into some of their back catalogues, “we’ve come to this point where I think what feels like a common thread from start to finish over the last 11 years for us is that we make music that makes you feel something. We know the music has changed over that time because we changed, we’ve grown into different people, and we’re proud of the people that we’ve become and the people that we were; that journey is the point for us.”
The magic of live-streamed gigs is that we can do cool things like interviews mid-way through sets, as Woodley sits down for a short time with host Lexi Sekuless where he plugs the band’s Patreon community known as the ‘Housos’ where fans can sign up for exclusive content from the band. Platforms like these have been essential for local bands whose careers and livelihoods have been put on hold during the pandemic. As well as this, Sekuless touches on how the music industry as a whole has been self-funded over the last 5 months, including events such as Live In Ya Lounge, which currently has a petition for government funding you can sign here.
Without skipping a beat, the second half of the set is just as energetic as the first, it’s like we only just kicked off the show, as Woodley aces the high notes in ‘Kingdom Comes’ and rips apart the brutal screams in ‘Monster’. ‘Stillwater’ and ‘Motion Sickness’ carry raw power, if only we could feel that bass pound our chests, but despite not being able to feed off a chaotic crowd, the band’s energy never waivers, engaging with every note. The chat feature of a Livestream is the unsung hero of live gigs, fans connecting through every song, CAPSLOCK LYRICS BEING VIRTUALLY SCREAMED THROUGH THE AIRWAVES, Hands Like Houses have fostered a strong community as fans talk of meet-ups post-COVID and organising discord servers to continue chatting during ‘Overthinking’.
Just as I praise the magic of live-streamed shows, I must admit it’s downfalls. No sooner than the final song and latest single ‘The Water’ has started does the YouTube stream freeze. Everyone is yelling through cyberspace, hoping someone notices but the calls make no impact and fans are left with a cut short ending, like the internet version of the power being cut, or a stage curfew being implemented, it’s laughable in hindsight, but unfortunate in the present. Shoutout to the Aussie NBN.