Big Scary have been favourites on the Melbourne scene for the last half decade or so and they’ve just released their second LP, Not Art. They’re currently touring in support of their new album and the duo brought their stunning new show to The Hi-Fi. Supported by the incredible Courtney Barnett and the Courtney Barnetts, the hometown crowd couldn’t get enough.

Melbourne has a handful of rock goddesses, Teeth & Tongue’s Jess Cornelius and Adalita to name a few, and Courtney Barnett is definitely on her way to that sort of level, if she hasn’t attained that status already. She expertly commands her guitar through blues and grunge tones to wailing solos. Borrowing the risers set up for Big Scary, The Courtney Barnetts flanked the singer in a somewhat unconventional setup for a rock trio but, as Barnett mentioned, they did look good on podiums. Barnett and Co didn’t have much trouble winning over the crowd, their slacker rock hitting the spot and warming up the crowd. They opened with 4 older songs in rapid succession before playing some newer ones, including one written “this morning”. There were obviously some Courtney Barnett fans already there, but the rest of us were convinced by the time their set was over.

By the time Tom Iansek and Joanna Syme took to the stage the dancefloor was completely packed, the sold out Hi-Fi crowd eager to get as close to the barrier as possible. The band headed straight into album opener ‘Hello, My Name Is’. The addition of 2 touring members to the lineup, along with Syme’s powerful drumming, really make the live version even more impressive than the recording. It was only when they started ‘Belgian Blues’ that it dawned on me that they were playing Not Art in full, and it was during the same song when the lineup really started to shine. Syme appeared to be flailing her limbs wildly but was actually hitting the skins with mathematical precision, creating an almost melodic percussion element, all while Iansek let his incredible Jeff Buckley-esque vocal loose.

The fans have really embraced the latest album, and showed their support early on in the set, singing along to everything. As ‘Twin Rivers’ broke down to it’s minimal ending, the sea of voices overpowered Iansek’s solo vocal beautifully. ‘Invest’ was a fantastic live experience with all four members providing their vocal talents to great effect, and they followed that with a beautiful and haunting version of ‘Lay Me Down’, which Iansek played solo. The rest of the band returned for ‘Why Hip Hop Sucks In ’13′ featuring vocal samples from the album rather than live singing. Syme interrupted the flow afterwards with the first comment of the night, addressing the bemusement of the crowd by explaining that it isn’t their vocals on the album. One of the touring members, Gus, providing a smoking hot sax solo on ‘Long Worry’ before they brought the first part of the set to a close with ‘Final Thoughts’. Before leaving the stage, Syme noted that “This isn’t an encore, we’re just getting a drink.”

They returned to the stage after their drink break and played some older songs, which the crowd were waiting for. The singing along became more widespread and a bit louder and Syme realised the futility of singing her parts on fan favourite ‘Gladiator’, letting the crowd take over. Not content with closing the show on a slower note, they finished up the set with ‘Purple’, a blistering blues-driven track from Vacation. The whole show was fantastic and Big Scary transported the crowd away from current affairs, subverting the woes of having to vote the next day and the potential outcome, and into a state of pure enjoyment.

Wes Fahey


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