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Live Review: Witch Hats, Lalic, The Shifters, Avoid

29 August 2016 | 12:18 pm | Dearna Mulvaney

"A haze of manic, fast-paced, loud, sweaty rock'n'roll."

Melbourne synth-pop trio Avoid kick off the night with an '80s-inspired dreamy soundscape. The crowd is engaged, with many swaying along. Romy Vager and Georgia Greenway's vocals blend perfectly, like if Bowie and Elizabeth Fraser of Cocteau Twins joined forces. These vocals sit atop a mix of synth, guitar and electronic drums.

The Shifters bring in the DIY. A stack of milk crates is stacked near vocalist Miles Jansen and each band member has two strips of neon orange gaffer tape stuck to their tops. This five-piece hit us with their self-described "drunk jazzy pop", their new wave sound a touch New Romantics. Jansen's vocals are shouted and his Aussie drawl pokes through, which evokes Courtney Barnett's vocal style. They play a bunch of new tracks and - judging by how we dance along to these songs - The Shifters are bound to become fast favourites.

People flock inside from the beer garden for Lalic's dose of bluesy Britpop. Their sound is tight and they follow vocalist Mladen Lalic Milinkovic down into whatever musical pocket Milinkovic wishes to explore. Lalic showcases new tracks along with singles Fuck Love and Zenith. Their sound has a vibe akin to The Libertines and is topped with reverb-drenched vocals. We sway, eyes closed, getting lost inside the stories Lalic weaves.   

This is the last show of Witch Hats' Deliverance east coast album tour and they've left their hometown for last. The crowd pushes forward, people filling every possible inch of space just to get closer as an intense hour of post-punk begins. They kick off with the title track from the new album. Punters start to get sweaty as smoke rolls off the stage, feedback screeches from speakers and the steady-paced, post-punk pop hybrid chorus hits.

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Frontman Kris Buscombe's vocals have a Johnny Rotten edge to them as he shouts and growls through every lyric. Driving guitars and a thundering rhythm section support his vocal. There are long instrumental stretches where the guitarists show off with fuzzy licks and squealing solos. The set is a balance of old and new. The crowd mosh away, smiles on their faces, during Insecure Fear, Sessa (Son Of A Silo Salesman) and Strange Life. One girl gets so excited for Strange Life that Buscombe teases her, by saying, "Oh my god! They're doing it!"

Bassist, Ash Buscombe, calls for light to be cut as fans scream, demanding a second encore. Witch Hats celebrate the release of their third album in the best way possible: in a haze of manic, fast-paced, loud, sweaty rock'n'roll.