As the silly season well and truly begins to hit its straps and everyone starts to wind things up at work (he types as he sits at his work desk procrastinating a grant application due in mere hours), the tour cycles of bands touring across this brown land of ours continues to go at breakneck speed.
One of these is 2018 break outs, The Beths. Hailing from Auckland, New Zealand, the guitar wielding four piece took to Sydney’s The Lansdowne and went about playing possibly the best hour long set of any band this year. As just about every man and his dog goes about dropping their ‘best of’ lists from 2018, The Beths have gone and delivered not only one 2018’s best debut albums, but also a killer live set in one fell swoop.
Opening the night were Auckland friends Miss June. If I had to describe their sound, it would be a mix of the dirty, punchier songs of Wolf Alice (think “Yuk Foo”) and Brisbane legends WAAX. With that comparison now firmly planted in your mind, Miss June delivered a fun and aggressive forty minute set to those that turned up early enough. Playing songs off their 2015 EP Matriarchy (the song “Matriarchy” is a two-minute punch in your face) as well as newer singles, Miss June were that band you stumble across at a festival and seemingly wonder why they aren’t bigger than they are.
Entering the stage just after 930, The Beths went straight into “Great No One”; the track that also opens their album. Straight away you noticed the strength in the vocals of singer, guitarist and songwriter Liz Stokes. In a packed room, they were flawless. Stopping to welcome the crowd to the show, they moved into “You Wouldn’t Like Me”, the song with possibly the most infectious guitar solo of any in 2018. With both the first sing-a-long and crowd claps occurring here, you just knew it was going to be a great set.
With the most sweary (and only) song of the night coming in the form of EP track “Idea/ Intent”, Liz finished by mentioning their EP and a special thanks to those that listened to it upon release. Following it up with “Whatever”, the instantaneous ‘woohoohoohoos’ from the crowd brought a cheeky smile and laugh from Stokes before moving into her lyrics. Dropping their cover of the Christmas classic “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”, The Beths had well and truly hit their straps by now.
Time travelling back to 2015, the whole venue were left with a moron asking Stokes to do a Shoey. Politely declining what she described as being “gross”, there seemed to be a general consensus from the crowd that you’d be an idiot to either do one or suggest doing one. The glorious “Lying In The Sun” soon followed, before Stokes mentioned that the next song was the one she gets heaps emotional in, but not really. The song in question, “River Run: Lvl 1”, is definitely a little broody, but all in all, a stellar track.
The most endearing moment of the night came just before “Happy Unhappy”, when Stokes asked the band to introduce themselves as well as a fun fact. Obviously taken a little aback by it all, you could see the panic of all band members, as one by one they introduced themselves, before all settling on the incredibly un-fun fact of what their middle names are. It was here it got me thinking. Which band/artist would love to have The Beths accompany them around the country next year? With a tour supporting The Smith Street Band already locked in, personally I’d love to see them support either Alex Lahey or Australia’s loveliest band, Ball Park Music (if by the slimmest of chances you’re reading this, lock in a tour please).
Beginning to wind the set down, “Little Death” was met with the largest response from the crowd thus far, as the harmonies between all band members went next level. Closing out the main set with “Less Than Thou”, the track rightfully held its own, just as it does on the album.
Returning for a brief encore with their biggest song “Future Me Hates Me” and closer “Uptown Girl”, the band bounded off stage and headed straight to the merch table. It’s disappointing that in 2018 bands still have to rely so heavily on merch sales to make ends meet, but if bands continue to put sets on like The Beths did, I’m more than happy to oblige.
FIVE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
The Beths complete their Australian tour on Saturday, December 22nd at Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane. Their debut album Future Me Hates Me is out now. The reviewer attended their show at the Lansdowne in Sydney on December 19th.