High Tension love Collingwood so it was no surprise that they launched their debut album, Death Beat, at The Tote on Friday night. With support from Hoodlum Shouts and A-Gender, the night was every bit as awesome as everyone expected.

I missed Captives’ set so A-Gender were the first band I caught and the raw energy of Romy Hoffman’s guitars combined with the really simple drums made for some awesome dancing music. The crowd were obviously pretty keen for it as well, filling the floor the second she strummed the first chord and dancing until the last. Romy may have spent the better part of the last decade rapping as Macromantics, getting quite a bit of acclaim and becoming the first hip-hop artist to be signed to US Label Kill Rock Stars but with A-Gender she’s gone back to her roots and put together a straight up punk outfit that, frankly, rocks.

To say the crowd was excited for Hoodlum Shouts was an understatement, the second Sam Leyshon and co. took the stage they were thrilled. As Mike Caruana strummed the opening chord of their fourth song the crowd roared and it really kicked off the singalong. I found their songs a bit long and slow, and they didn’t seem to go anywhere, but the lyrics were full of raw and honest emotion and they really connected with the crowd. Their set was also littered with unplanned lighting effects as the LEDs seemed to be malfunctioning, resulting in the lighting operator calling out “sorry about the lights” on more than one occasion. It probably wasn’t helpful for the bands, but for the crowd the lights were pretty entertaining and I was so pleased they continued into High Tension’s set.

“Mr John Weston, are you ready?” came the question from Karina Utomo before Dan McKay and Ash Pegram kicked into ‘Blaze Up’, instantly putting the already riled up crowd into overdrive. Even before Matt Weston and Karina burst into the first verse, the mosh was moving but as they tore through the first few songs it got absolutely brutal with the majority of the crowd fighting to stay standing and loving every second of it, shouting any and all the lines they knew. Hearing the entire crowd yell “High-fived every cunt on Smith St” as they played their “love song”, ‘Collingwood’, was absolutely fantastic and really made it amazing. Shortly afterwards, Ash teased the Y&R fans in the crowd by playing the opening riff of ‘Police Police’ very briefly which resulted in plenty of laughter.

Usually when I review a band I find a nice spot on the fringe of the crowd so I can get the vibe but stay out of the way, or even hide in a corner up the back with my notebook but as a big fan of Karina from back in her Young & Restless days, I already knew what sort of show it was going to be and I made the decision to plant myself as close to the front as possible. At least half of the performance is Karina’s sheer brutal physicality, regularly hurling herself into the crowd with total abandon, screaming her lungs out the entire time. She definitely did not disappoint on that front and it didn’t take long to confirm that I was in the absolute best spot to experience the show.

After finishing up with a brilliant double header of ‘High Risk, High Rewards’ and ‘Are You Safe?’, the former of which Karina had spent most of on the floor after the pit collapsed beneath her, the crowd called for an encore. Karina jumped back on the mic saying “As much as we love that shit, we don’t have any more songs…” which, for most, was the only disappointing part of their killer show.

Wes Fahey


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