Live Review: The Smith Street Band Smash their Metro City Set
What an instrumental rise it’s been for The Smith Street Band. Last time the Melbournians graced our coast, they played at a venue half the size of the buzzing Metro City. And yet, while admitting to us that the prospect of such big stages made him a bit nervous, Will Wagner and the Smithies appeared every part bona fide rockstars on Friday night.
First things first, however. The night got off to a bit of a sour start when my friend and I witnessed one of the security guards verbally abusing a woman in the queue while throwing half the contents of her bag in the rubbish. Of course, I can’t comment on the specifics of what happened beforehand, but it certainly seemed like he was being unnecessarily rude given the lack of reaction from the woman.
Of course, any bitterness was quelled quickly by the three quality opening acts. Allison Weiss kicked off proceedings in typical pop-punk fashion with plenty of good vibes. A newcomer to Australia, she would certainly be welcome back any time.
Ceres was next, bringing the Aus-core to the opening lineup. The lads brought loud, fast rock'n'roll front and centre, and the audience reaction was huge. When they brought out Will Wagner for a stirring rendition of 'Stretch Your Skin', you had to wonder if the night had peaked early (of course, it was just getting started). They had us in the palm of our hands.
Joyce Manor followed shortly after. As a fan of their brand of pop punk, I was pretty keen to see them, and they definitely got me singing along - I think I lost my voice somewhere around “Falling In Love Again”. Unfortunately, their set was marred by some technical difficulties, which evidently left the band a bit unsettled. However, their short, fast and loud tunes perfectly set the scene for what was to follow. Three opening acts could’ve easily been excessive, but not when they were of this quality.
By this time, the Metro was well and truly packed. The buzz was almost unbearable as a Smith Street Band drape dropped from the stage, obscuring our vision as the band set up. A handful of well-chosen in-house tunes later (note: 'Come On Eileen' probably brought about the biggest singalong do the night) and it was go time.
The Smith Street Band smashed through their first few opening songs, drawn from their latest album More Scared of You Than You Are of Me. 'Ducks Fly Together' followed a handful of tracks later, with the crowd (myself included) screaming back at the top of our lungs. And the night just got better from there.
Will Wagner has both an endearing and magnetic stage presence, making perfectly awkward banter before smashing out banger after banger. The punk energy was escalated by projections and stage lights - the Smith Street Spectacular, indeed. The energy between performer and audience was tangible, both feeding off the other in the best way possible. “This feels like the final scene of Gladiator,” Will joked at one stage, before cleverly twisting the lyrics to 'Passiona': The people of Perth, Metro City/literally and metaphorically look down on me.
The setlist drew heavily from their last two (fantastic) albums, but older albums weren’t discounted entirely, with 'Young Drunk' sounding as great as ever. My only disappointment was that they didn’t play 'Something I Could Hold In My Hands', but every other classic was given its moment.
Plenty of singalongs and group hugs later, the main set was capped off with 'Young Once', surely a new classic in their discography if ever there was one. After some shouting, an encore was graciously received, starting with a solo rendition of 'Laughing (Or Pretending to Laugh)', preceded by a touching story of its creation. The band returned to join their frontman for 'Sigourney Weaver', before 'Throw Me In the River' capped off the night in superb fashion. The Smith Street Band were on fire on Friday night, leaving me beaming. Good vibes and good songs, what more could you ask for?