"There's more than a little Blink-182 about the melodic pop-punk of As It Is."
A succession of bands get our eardrums softened up for the main attraction. First, it's Breakaway, with their enjoyably vanilla hard-rock sound built around busy guitar licks, thumping bass and kick drum, and screamy vocals. Next up, Mae Fire bring some mid-tempo noise distinguished by tight, varied arrangements centred by some ace guitar licks and intricate, clockwork-precise drum lines.
Second-billed With Confidence are basically a pop band — as evidenced by their cover of Vanessa Carlton's A Thousand Miles tonight — albeit intensified by some ferocious punk drumming and fuzzy power chords cranked to 11. Bassist/vocalist Jayden Seeley might be the band's frontman, but you get the impression that lead guitarist Luke Rockets, with his nifty finger-work, scissor kicks and swirling, gargantuan fringe, is its frenetic heart.
This is the first time British sextet As It Is has toured Australia and they're determined to give this Thursday night crowd what they came for. American-born frontman and Justin Bieber lookalike Patty Walters has great stores of talent and charisma packed into his diminutive frame: with his mugging the crowd and Roger Daltrey-style mic tossing, he plays The Evelyn bandroom like it's Wembley Stadium. Two songs in and Walters has his audience jumping — something he demands of us repeatedly throughout the night. There's more than a little Blink-182 about the melodic pop-punk of As It Is, right down to Walters and rhythm guitarist Benjamin Biss sometimes double-teaming the vocals à la Mark Hoppus and Tom DeLonge style.The tom tom-driven single Concrete and rowdy track Can't Save Myself (also from their Never Happy, Ever After album) both satisfy; Walters is a prodigious, consummate performer although his revelation that he has been emitting burger-flavoured burps since his earlier Lord Of The Fries dinner should probably have come with a TMI warning.
For a change of pace, the rest of the band leave Walters alone with an acoustic guitar for the first half of My Oceans Were Lakes — a song suggesting that underneath all the punk-rock swagger, Walters may simply be a pop crooner at heart. Frankly, it's a pretty bland song although it is revived somewhat by the return of the rest of the band for its second half and, in particular,by a nice arpeggiated solo from lead guitarist Andy Westhead. Biss then introduces "another soppy, emotional one", turns out it's the six-eight stomper Silence (Pretending's So Comfortable), a highlight of the set before Walters implores us to put "every last bit of energy" into the frenzied closing song Dial Tones. Everyone obviously takes this advice on board because, as the final notes fade and the dust settles, the chant of "one more song" is half-hearted at best. We're not insincere, just satiated and spent.
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