Having broken out from the underground in various parts of the world, including their home country Australia where they’re currently pulling 2000+ a night, seeing The Smith Street Band in a venue the size of The Brudenell Social Club looks set to become a thing of the past. They’ve done their time on the DIY scene and are finally getting the level of success that their hard work and, more importantly, awesome music deserves. This gig then, will be one that we look back on fondly when we’re watching them from the back of a huge room in years to come.
Kicking off the evening were Exeter indie-punks Shit Present. They’re a name that I’d been aware of for a while but never quite managed to find the time to check them out. With catchy songs and great angsty vocals, they’re definitely a band to keep an eye on. With an overall sound that bridges the gap between headliners The Smith Street Band and fellow Exeter band Muncie Girls, Shit Present were an ideal band to start getting things warmed up at a show like this.
Next up were The Bennies. Where to start with The Bennies? Well, imagine if you were to throw Beastie Boys, Less Than Jake, Andrew WK and The Skints into a blender with some psychedelic drugs, the experience you’d get would be something like attending a Bennies show. From start to finish their energy levels didn’t drop once. Party Machine was a particular highlight, typifying everything that this band are about. One part party, one part machine. The Bennies are a fucking party machine! Electronic samples, heavy breakdowns, reggae grooves and party vibes, The Bennies have it all.
The Smith Street Band’s set started like a kick in the face. We weren’t eased into this one gently as the band dived straight in with opener Forrest, the first song from their fourth and latest album More Scared Of You Than You Are Of Me. It’s a fast, loud song that really set the tone for the rest of the night. Other highlights included Young Drunk, Surrender and Death To The Lads, mainly because they were accompanied with massive singalongs that seemed to surprise even the band.
Despite increased levels of success around the world, The Smith Street Band still come across as a very humble band, with frontman Wil Wagner grinning from ear to ear at the sight of people singing along to his songs, even if there is only a couple of hundred people doing it. A speech about how great it is to be able to travel the world playing music with your best friends and how grateful they are to be afforded that luxury further cements the opinion of the guys standing onstage.
You’d never wish a lack of success on any band, especially one this good, so it’d be unfair to suggest that small venues such as The Brudenell Social Club is where they belong, but rooms this size are where The Smith Street Band began to perfect their craft, so you can’t help but feel that this is possibly the most authentic setting for a TSSB show. That said, I’d absolutely love to see how Wagner & Co work a crowd ten times the size of this one. I’m sure they’d have no trouble at all.