On a freezing cold winter’s night, I finally made my first trip to the Hi-Fi to see The Holidays. The boys from Sydney have been travelling the country to show off their newest single, “Tongue Talk”, which has quickly become a favourite on the triple j airwaves. Knowing that the night would be opened by another favourite from Sydney, Thief, I was overcome with excitement and a bit of over-eagerness. With so much buzz, I managed to goof and rock up more than an hour before anyone was due to hit the stage… whoops!
For anyone that hasn’t heard Thief’s music before, I find it’s easiest to describe him in three simple words: Groovy as fuck! His sound is Chet Faker-esque but, at the same time, he has his own unique vibe. His opening song got the crowd right into it as he paid tribute to the recently reunited Outkast, dropping a bit of “Ms. Jackson”. It didn’t stop there as he also covered Justin Timberlake’s “Cry Me A River”, mostly staying true to the original but definitely adding a bit of his own groove.
One of the first things I noticed during Thief’s set was just how amazing his voice is. His recordings don’t do justice to how good he sounds live. This became all the more impressive when he apologised for being a bit under the weather, something the crowd definitely hadn’t noticed. The relaxed and chilled vibe was amplified by the crowd sitting around the dance pit instead of getting up and dancing, despite a request from the man himself. Thief then played the title track from his EP, “Closer”, to a great reception before dropping his new and unreleased song, “You Look So Good To Me”, which is one I’d be keeping my ears open for. Finally, he finished with his first hit single, “Broken Boy”, and got the crowd on their feet for a dance and some energy before leaving us all in anticipation for the headline act.
As the last few latecomers made their way into the now packed-out room, The Holidays emerged. They jumped straight into the first two tracks off their newest album, Real Feel, but it was a slightly bumpy start with some minor sound balance issues during “Long Now”. Fortunately, they were quickly fixed in time for a crowd favourite, “All Time High”, which sparked a lot of dancing and some singing along. Lead singer Simon then introduced their first big single from back in 2009, “Moonlight Hours”. As expected, this had fans screaming (even throughout the hit) and singing along. The band knew how to play for the moment, slowing down for a dramatic and extended finish, and the crowd absolutely bought into it.
A couple more from their debut album had their older fans enjoying a dance before Simon slowed things down for a quick chat. Interestingly, this wasn’t the first time The Holidays had played at The Hi-Fi, having been a support act on multiple occasions, but this was their first time in the limelight as headliners. It was during their next song, “Please Forget”, that I first noticed just how much fun percussionist David Zucker was having. While other band members were comparatively mild, David was having an absolute ball. Little did I know that this would foreshadow the best moment of the night.
“Voices Drifting” upped the onstage energy another notch just in time for the song the started the tour, newest single “Tongue Talk”. This one’s introduction caused an instant scream from the crowd which was, amusingly, mocked on stage by bassist Alex. The crowd, particularly those in the dance pit, really got into things during the chorus, showing just how much potential this tune has to be a big hit.
A fan right up the front handed Simon a note which, with a laugh, he read to the crowd. It was a request for one of their much older songs, “Mexico”, which forced Simon to apologise, saying that they hadn’t rehearsed that one for this tour. He added “Mexico was a good eight years ago, you need to move on” before offering a compromise with the hugely popular “Home”. My personal favourite, it caused more loud screams from the crowd (which led to the suspicion that it was the same girl screaming every time). Clearly the biggest crowd pleaser so far, the whole room was singing along and the dance pit fans were hitting their stride. The band played another oldy, “Broken Bones”, before leading into what was the highlight of the night.
It all started to loud screams as Simon finally removed his jacket (after earlier ignoring Alex’s suggestions to do so). He told us to watch out for David Zucker on the conga and for Andrew Kerridge on the drums, then got into “Morning Workout”. The energy and intensity skyrocketed with David leading the way. There was high-pace percussion, some crazy tapping away at the keyboard, and non-stop movement for what must have been an 8+ minute jam sesh. The tune finished perfectly as everything was slowed, Simon sang his thing, and the band left the stage.
We all know how these things work as everyone chanted for an encore. As they returned to the stage, Simon recognised the cliché stating “no one saw that coming” with a smile and a laugh. They thanked the crowd and their label (particularly Miles – they really love Miles), and then Simon said something that made me giddy like a schoolgirl: “a song we don’t usually play”. For anyone that read my post a few weeks ago, you would’ve been just as aware as I was that this could only mean one thing. To a big cheer from the crowd, The Holidays played their cover of The Preatures’ “Is This How You Feel”. Simon joked after huge cheers “we wrote both of those songs”. With time for one final hit, they finished the night with an upbeat dancer in “Golden Sky” and brought the energy one last time. Alex took some photos of the crowd and some of the luckier punters got guitar picks and drum sticks as souvenirs.
It was an epic night of ups and downs, from Thief’s mellow-yet-groovy beats to the high intensity of a huge jam sesh. The boys from Sydney all impressed and we, the fans, are looking forward to what’s coming next.
All Time High
Is This How You Feel