Live Review: Mr Maps, Hunz

24 July 2012 | 3:13 pm | Sky Kirkham

Diffused spotlights are thrown across the floor tonight in The Judith Wright Centre, showing off the venue's theatre-based roots and it seems almost as if the crowd itself is the first showcase of the evening. It's rather unusual to see the main theatre here used for a rock show, but it's a welcome occurrence, and as it's amongst the best venues in Brisbane for sound and lighting, it would be nice to see it happen more often.

Perhaps because they're sharing the bill with Mr Maps, or perhaps because they're promoting their new instrumental EP Penny Time, Hunz kick things off with an instrumental track and it ends up being indicative of their full set, with only a few songs seeing frontman Hans Van Vliet take to the mic. Not restrained behind a microphone, Van Vliet is full of energy, bouncing between keys, sampler and a mini keyboard, throwing out rock poses between notes and seeming thrilled to be there; a sentiment that sweeps the crowd along in its wake.

Playing a couple of numbers from their side-project 7bit Hero, in addition to the music from Penny Time, there's a distinct 8-bit feel to a lot of the music. However, the songs remain clearly and identifiably Hunz, even without the vocals, and indeed it's the best they've sounded in quite some time. Closing with great versions of Scott Spark's What Is In A World and their own previous single I Get Chills seems almost disappointingly straight-forward. It's a testament to the quality of the previous tracks.

It's the second last show in Brisbane for Mr Maps for a while, with drummer Jacob Hicks set to venture off overseas, and a sizeable crowd has turned out to see them off in style. Known for their complex song structures and layered instrumentation, Mr Maps really make the most of the venue, as the wonderful acoustics allow them to really show off the details in their compositions. From Briony Luttrell's aching cello to the driving bass of Andrew White, each instrument has its moment to shine.

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There's no vocal mic on stage, so band leader Chris Perrin shouts out his thanks to the venue, the organisers and the crowd. It's little touches like this that make the gig feel intimate despite the large room; a Hanger show on steroids. When the last notes fade away and the band wave and walk offstage, it's clear that the crowd has no intention of letting them go just yet, and the applause pulls them back out for an encore. It's only one more song, but the drum build from Hicks sees applause even from his own bandmates and shows that he, and they, will be truly missed.