Review by Ben Connolly
There’s a buzz in the air tonight – a full house and the Ball Park Music headlining debut album launch tour tends to give out a special vibe. And it’s been a long, well-worn track to get to this point: singles and free downloads leading to early Triple J recognition, signing to a supportive management company and releasing one of them most anticipated EPs of recent memory, seemingly tour after tour as the perpetual bridesmaids before finally knuckling down to carve out the first full-length offering.
All the while there’s ostensibly nothing different between this headline tour and the one of a few months ago, the band does give off a rather self-satisfied air as it notches up yet another sold out Melbourne show. And for good reason, too. They’re in top form, and it surely can’t get better than this?
It takes a fair whack, however, to break through the early-set restlessness of the seriously hyperactive audience. Whether it be a bit too much stimulation from the warm up acts (Northeast House Party for one lit the torch earlier in the night), or a simple case of over-familiarity, the chatter and din never quite dies away throughout the night. Album opener “Literally Baby” tries hard to overcome the distractions but falls short whereas “Rich People Are Stupid”, one of the bands numerous pre-album breakthrough tunes, delivers the sucker-punch and tears all eyes and ears stage-side. It’s a yo-yo effect which waxes and wanes through the next 60 minutes, testament surely to the breakthrough popularity of their bigger hits.
None of this seems to have any noticeable effect on what is being conveyed on stage, however, as the band’s super-excited, happy-fun-time quest continues. Singer Sam Cromak continues down his path of turning into a younger, hipster version of Tim Finn all deliberately awkward and exaggerated movements. As expected, the pre-album hits are received very warmly, but it’s a slowly building and endearingly sincere delivery of “Alligators” mid-set which briefly arrests. More than anything, this song hints at a very deep current running beneath the pithy repartee and achingly gorgeous hooks on the surface.
It’s equally weighed with, curiously, a cover of industrial metal has-been Marilyn Manson’s “Beautiful People”. Delivered with a straight bat, it pulls no punches and this, in itself, speaks volumes of the musicality and maturity on show: it would be too easy to delve into a sneering piss-take. Still, as much as deepening musicality and maturity are on display, the band’s recent history as a gimmick-driven pop band are still quite apparent and a run towards the set pinnacle doesn’t disappoint, with “iFly” and “It’s Nice To Be Alive” re-affirming that, in the end, the kids are alright.
Review by Ben Connolly