Photographs courtesy of Kimberley Wilson
It’s Saturday night and definitely a night for volume in the basement of Stereo. It’s a great venue for a rock gig with its high stage, dim lights and industrial feel. It makes for a packed sweat-box for loud, fast music of which there’ll be plenty tonight. There’s a sign on the wall warning that human pyramids and walls-of-death are dangerous. Well, Overblown is here to see Menace Beach in a support slot to their home town pals Pulled Apart by Horses so I feel quite safe.
For a support slot there’s a really encouraging crowd gathered at the front to watch Menace Beach. I’d imagine the headliners have done a decent job in telling their fans to check the support out, their guitarist is even wandering about with a Menace Beach t-shirt on.
A couple of months ahead of their debut album release and Menace Beach are in good form. They launch into “Teenage Jesus“ and immediately there’s plenty heads nodding approvingly. It’s loud, satisfyingly so, with the guitars particularly dominant. Thankfully Liza’s keyboards aren’t drowned out but her vocals occasionally are. She’s the least animated member of the band throughout the set, casually switching from guitar to keyboards and singing, always looking effortlessly cool.
Ryan, on the other hand, is a bit more of a whirlwind. There’s lots of arm movements, facial expressions and hopping around manically. He looks and sounds like the quintessential 90s indie rock kid. In fact, if i didn’t know better I’d be convinced I’m watching Travis, the goofy skate kid from Clueless, fronting his own band. Lookalikes aside, there’s plenty of enthusiasm on stage and it’s infectious. “I feel so much better now, it’s been such a stressful day, it’s great to be playing some songs” Ryan tells us. Well, the feeling is mutual.
They run through previously released songs “Honolulu”, “Tennis Court” and the slightly slower “Dream Out“, then on to “Come on Give Up” from the new album. There are other new songs in between whose titles I don’t know but the signs for the new record are very positive. They’re lively, loud and absolutely packed with hooks.
“Fortune Teller“ is the song that brought Menace Beach to my attention in the first place. The floating, looping keyboard Liza plays is the highlight of the gig. The song itself sounds much heavier in this environment, simply down to the volume of the guitars and the bands happiness to play hard. It’s a fantastic song.
They rip through the punky “Lowtalkin’“ at breakneck speed. Liza screams the song title over and over again (how do you not lose you’re breath?) while Ryan sings and they sound great together. Female / Male vocals in sync gets me pretty much every time. The set is over after about 20 minutes. It’s short but very sweet, leaving me eager for plenty more of their own shows in 2015. Time to retire to the bar at the back, ears ringing but happy nonetheless. Don’t want to get caught up in one of those walls of death when the headliners take the stage.