The Hunting Birds
Picture: Louise Coghill

Review: The Hunting Birds at Jack Rabbit Slim’s, Perth, 13 January 2017

New heights.

Riding a wave of success after a stint at Falls Downtown and about to set off on a national tour, The Hunting Birds have never flown so high.

The launch for their latest single Burn This House Down started off fairly quietly, with a sparse group of earnest punters heading down early to Jack Rabbit Slims to catch the audible delights of Hannah Smillie and her talented band.

Smillie kicked off the gig with her rustic rock vibes; a pleasurable sound to be greeted by when entering the venue. With one or two punters savouring the rhythms coming from Smillie’s band, throughout the gig the band gave a few reminders that there were only so many songs left for punters to dance to. Luckily the group’s pleas were heard and a few more started joined the fray.

As is often the case, the venue started to fill up during the second act. As soon as Wooly Mammoth started setting up, the dance floor was already packed with people. Who knows what mojo or pheromones that band is packing.

Wooly Mammoth was thoroughly generous with their covers, hyping up the crowd with Temper Trap’s Sweet Disposition – many glasses were raised into the air. A tasty mixture of electronic and rock music, the sweet melodies coming from their keys pierced throughout the stuffy air of Jack Rabbit Slim’s. Pumping away at their intrepid music, Wooly Mammoth gave a juicy and generous set, finding new new fans and keeping the crowd hyped for the Hunting Birds.

When it came time for The Hunting Birds to perform, the stage was surrounded by a sea of people. As they emerged onstage, it felt like an immediate sigh of tension and hype was released.

Throwing themselves into an folky fervour, the band delivered an earthy wave of folk backed up by the ecstatic rhythms of a modern rock band. Guitarists Connor Minervini and Chris Mackenzie kept the music rapid and fresh with their soloing and strumming, which, in combination with the vocals of Kendra Fewster, drums of Caleb Quartermaine and bass from Brandon Richards made the live sound appear larger and more coherent than it sounded on record.

Like some sort of halfway point between a bush doof and a hoedown, the crowd exploded with energy as the band played tracks both old (well, as old as possible for a very young band) and new. As well as the song of the moment, the band played jaunty hits like State of Mind, moving between intricately morbid to crisp, rhythmic folk.

As Minervini announced it was the last time The Hunting Birds would play in Perth for a while, it was clear the crowd was going to make the most of it, going all out at the close.

Sitting comfortably between genres, the Hunting Birds will surprise those who are expecting a folk band. Likewise, a rock band. They’re not what you expect and that’s a good thing.

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