The Vaccines Gig Review 3/8/11
August 8, 2011
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Positively exhausted, exhilarated and especially sick of Jetstar, we arrived back in Melbourne from Splendour in the Grass on Tuesday morning. However the feast of soulful delights was not yet over. Wednesday night, not yet convinced we were back to reality by the pleasant combination of not terrible uni and unseasonably warm Melbourne weather we ventured to the hifi bar and ballroom to see English quartet The Vaccines. I had never been grabbed on a truly emotional level by their music; more simply entertained by their fairly generic brand of mid tempo punk rock. Much of this sentiment I felt was reflected in their live performance. Still fairly wrecked from our divergence into the collective conciousness of Woodfordia we decided not to mosh but simply relax to the side and observe the British up and comers. The night began however with an half-hour set from nothing-rock band Oh Mercy whose triple j endorsement has taken them further than their combined talent ever would have. They were quickly shunned off stage for reasons beyond my understanding and without a chance to impress me or the now growing crowd.
The Vaccines arrived on stage and had the fairly young crowd entranced from their entrance to Blow it up immediately followed by Post Break Up Sex. The tracks were adeqautely reproduced but I felt they lacked any real emotional depth from the lead singer who in some ways seemed to be simply going through the motions. Perhaps he was tired at the end of a long tour, perhaps not but I felt his subtle apathy did detract a little from the overall performance. The more laid back Wetsuit and later Family Friend were the highlights for me, because these were the tracks on which the band was able to create a much greater degree of musical variation and energy. At one point toward the end of the set a punter yelled out “play Wet Suit” to which the band replied “We already did that one.” Forgive me for making what is perhaps an incongruent point but this reinforced the thought that there is an inherent similarity between all the songs of the first album. However, this is hardly a condemnation, merely an observation; Oasis played the same song over and over again and were one of the most successful bands in the world.
Certainly the band has songwriting talent and a charismatic style melding pop and melancholic punk well, but I didn’t appreciate them as much as some of the other brilliant acts I had seen in the past week. My drunken prediction that they would be “the next U2” is probably a bit premature, but their set did begin to feel to me like the formulaic dogma which has lead to bands like U2’s commercial success and critical condemnation. Bearing in mind that this was their first tour of their first album, The Vaccines drew a massive and dedicated crowd to the Hifi Bar and Ballroom and gave me, despite my criticisms, a thoroughly enjoyable stopgap to the inevitable onset of post-Splendour depression.