For a band to sell out three gigs outside of their home state before the release of a debut album is certainly a rare feat. And frontwoman of The Jezabels, Hayley Mary, expounded on that surprise by stating that they had never expected to sell more tickets in Melbourne than in their hometown of Sydney.
Very few Kisschasy fans were in attendance when Fuzz Phantoms – the side project of Kisschasy frontman Darren Cordeux – took to the stage as opening support act for The Jezabels. With their more experimental lilt, Fuzz Phantoms are clearly a divergent musical project to Cordeux’s full-time band. Among the gathering that witnessed Fuzz Phantoms’ set were members of second support act – Canadian quartet Two Hours Traffic. The most intriguing element to Two Hours Traffic is the manner in which frontman Liam Corcoran executes their catchy power-pop songs with such earnestness. The band room filled quickly as Two Hours Traffic entertained with pulsating inoffensive guitar-pop anthems such as Territory, Noisemaker, and Wicked Side.
For a band to sell out three gigs outside of their home state before the release of a debut album is certainly a rare feat. And frontwoman of The Jezabels, Hayley Mary, expounded on that surprise by stating that they had never expected to sell more tickets in Melbourne than in their hometown of Sydney. The rapturous fandom surrounding The Jezabels may be a surprise to some, but those who have listened to their three EPs can attest to their deserved ascendency. Each new EP has bettered its predecessor, but it was the recent release of the group’s third EP, Dark Storm, that proved most indicative of their promising future.
The Jezabels opened with Dark Storm’s final track, She’s So Hard – an atmospheric number driven by Heather Shannon’s mournful keys and Mary’s expressive vocals. There’s no denying that Mary’s enthralling voice is the stand-out element – the most impressive proponent of The Jezabels – but this doesn’t detract from their potential as a collective force. It’s often that very insistence on supporting each other’s gifts that allows for talent to be realised and subsequently developed. Samuel Lockwood’s shimmering reverb-drenched guitar underpins the soaring beauty of Mace Spray – its majesty reaffirmed by its glorious piano melody. Pulsating to Nik Kaloper’s sturdy militaristic drums, Sahara Mahala was another evident crowd pleaser with many fans – having already memorised its key lyrics – swaying along, mesmerised.
An emotive cheer resounded upon the opening strains of Hurt Me – the powerful opener on their second EP – its dramatic vigour and encroachingly vivid lyrics proving intensely affecting. On stage, Mary – with her shortly cropped hair and slight frame – was easily the most energetic member of the band, often losing herself in the enveloping passion of the music. Her vocals remained almost flawless despite her constant body contortions and manic head thrusting. In fact, the emotional fervour of The Jezabels’ music is almost enhanced by the visceral effect exhibited by Mary, who appears as though she’s battling malignant forces with each twist and euphoric convulsion.
The elevating anthemic grandeur of Disco Biscuit Love – the opener on first EP, The Man Is Dead – evoked exhilaration amongst many dancers and summoned sing-a-longs with its memorable lyrics: “I know he’s groovy but he only loves you when he’s on pills / And it’s that heart of yours / It’s not your body that makes you ill”. Dark Storm proved the ultimate closer – its build-up into a transcendental pop epic captured superbly the impressive melodic sensibilities and emotive intensity of The Jezabels’ music. Armed with a strong set of songs at this early stage of their career, The Jezabels have indicated that they’re well prepared for the compounding of pressure that awaits them on their next venture.