Hollow . Having been plagued with the continuous chopping and changing of their line up since the release of their debut album, Happy As Can Be in 2008, it was nice to see original drummer Brent Harris (who had taken a hiatus due to hearing problems) back behind the kit.
While the band room initially seemed scant of punters, when the four boys casually made their way onstage, the room seemed to fill with happy fans. Opening with You Should Do Better from their newest release, the crowd was enthusiastic but reserved, while the band played in a similar fashion; both parties possibly still ironing out the kinks in their knowledge of the new material. Everyone started to warm up with Nausea, which exhumed a calm, breezy ’90s pop rock appeal in its live incarnation, front man Nick Johnston’s voice sounding relaxed and harmonious. Fooling No One was when things started to really pick up; the upbeat pop song saw the energetic punk appeal of Cut Off Your Hands shine through even more, both Johnston and audience began to writhe more and more.
Nothing seemed to get the crowd more excited that the prospect of an older song, and so it was Expectations, a tune right back from 2006, that really saw Cut Off You Hands in their true punk form and the audience shift from foot shuffling to ecstatic bounds and sing-a-longs. When he wasn’t playing his guitar, or clutching onto his microphone stand for dear life, Johnston would throw himself on the floor and twist about with energy, while his cohorts, Phil Hadfield on bass and Jonathan Lee, on either side of him were serene and composed. Oh Hell sounded almost Oasis-esque with Lee’s gently wavering guitar and Hadfield’s undulating bass, Johnston’s voice a comforting croon.
The Toff’s small stage was perfect for the four Auckland boys, their songs never petered out and energy never weakened, even during the newer songs that weren’t so well known. However nothing seems to make the audience’s more rapturous than Happy As Can Be; and as Harris’ bold drum beat rolls across the room, Johnston shared a crooked smile as the crowd’s collective heart skipped a million beats. Finishing on a trifecta of older tunes was Still Fond, an vigorous rendering of the crowd favourite Oh Girl and after a brief pause, returned to the stage and ended the night with You and I.
BY ALEXANDRA DUGUID
LOVED: The romantic live rendering of Happy As Can Be. Makes me smile every time.
HATED: The band room being 50°c and muggy as fuck.
DRANK: One dirty pot of CD. The joys of being designated driver.