Spookyland's album launch gig was the first time I had crossed paths with YEEVS. Confronted with the band's mayhem - the big drum flourish transitioning to steady persistent beats that were joined by repetitive guitar chords and vocals of a forceful insistent nature - I was hooked.
A decent sized crowd was taking in the passionate display of musicality. Most of the songs played had a tendency to build up to a let loose kind of climax. The music was instantly likeable and very accessible. The band fused together well to inspire dancing and loud applause.
Lead singer Brad Cork did an admirable job of frontman. He has a comfortable stage presence of the dark brooding sincere type.
In my mind there would be no better band than YEEVS to join Spookyland in launching their debut album, Beauty Already Beautiful. The bands not only share a similar sound but as we learnt proudly from Brad during the set, the two frontmen of each band share a firm friendship that they established at age ten. Brad's admiration for Spookyland's achievement in producing the album was straight from the heart.
In all, YEEVS rocked out around six songs. By the time the final one hit, the crowd was a mass of bodies being thrown into the sharp, defining drum beats and heavy up front guitar. It was very clear that the night had started in the right direction.
After the obligatory rush to the bar, the Newtown Social Club re-filled to roughly full capacity as dark atmospheric music signalled Spookyland's entrance on stage to raucous clapping and hoots.
A group huddle around the drums opened the night's flight into the seductive sound of Spookyland. Eleven tracks off the album were the main part of the set, backed up with a one song encore off the EP. "Abuse" was the opener, followed by other stirring and hard hitting songs such as "Big Head," "Silly Fucking Thing," "Rock and Roll Weakling", and the enormous "Nowhereland," and "God's Eyes." Between the songs the room was pitched into darkness with the lights being switched off. This added to the atmosphere of mystery and strangeness that surrounds Spookyland.
"Bulimic" functioned as the show stopper ending before the encore. There was a sea of dancing bodies, voices singing out. We waited some time before the band returned. It could have ended quite well then but a pearler was pulled from their EP repertoire to avoid an anti climactic finish.
Throughout Spookyland's set, we consistently heard songs with big lead ins and musicality ripping at the seams. Backbone drum beats, layered guitars and unmistakable scraggly booming vocals produced a big theatrical overwhelming culmination of sound. I was seeing first hand the tight well oiled explosive rock show that Marcus had alluded to during my recent interview with the band. My appreciation for Beauty Already Beautiful was being fully realised that night.
Very few bands have ever engaged with me at the level that Spookyland did that night. Their signature sound of immense sprawling somewhat 70's style rock ballads was pulled together with impassioned musicianship. Marcus's vocals have a Dylan-esque or Petty tendency but then they go off on their own powerful and commanding tangent. He is a real leader - a frontman who is followed unwaveringly by his band.
I can actually say I experienced a breakthrough. One moment I was viewing the show with a cool reviewer interest, the next I was all stirred up by the sheer brilliance of the band in pulling together notes and vocals in a manner that revealed a deep bond.
The dynamic live performance definitely broke through the membrane of any cool indifference I may have had. For me the notch of enjoyment was raised when half way through the set, "Prophet" was played. One moment I went from mild enjoyment to a wild frenzy that matched the disposition of my fellow gig attendees. I was totally blown away by the live performance.
I can remember seeing at various times in the set Nic jumping up and down excitedly on stage like he was going to burst. Liam and Marcus also had a tendency of throwing themselves around on stage. It was all done it seemed, to help release the music inside each of them (or in hindsight it was maybe as a result of doing so). It was evident an electrical current ran through each member and I am sure if I had touched either one of them, sparks would have flown. A kinetic and psychic energy had taken hold.
On my way home the songs repeated in my head. I was drawn back to the digital album to see if I could reconcile the live and recorded versions. I discovered that they complemented each other. It was almost like listening to the CD with fresh ears. All the intensity of the live show was recalled and brought everything to life. Memories of the band"s exuberant passion onstage filtered through.