Pics by Tasha Strachan
The British rockers are moving on from a difficult last 18 months.
Life itself was turned upside down for British band Glass Animals last July, when drummer Joe Seaward was hit by a truck while cycling in Dublin. Seaward suffered some serious injuries – a broken leg, fractured skull and damage to his brain. With Seaward facing a long road to recovery, the band had to take a step back from touring and music-making, supporting their bandmate through his ordeal.
It’s been over a year since the incident, and Seaward has relearned how to walk, talk and – thankfully for the group – drum again. Ready and rearing to get back into it, the boys wasted no time in making a trip to Oz for two intimate shows, the first of which went down at St Kilda’s Prince Bandroom.
The show had sold out weeks before, which was a pretty good indication of how packed the venue was going to be. People were buzzing as the lights dimmed and the band came out, the energy erupting as they broke into their latest track with Denzel Curry, ‘Tokyo Drifting’. They followed it up with ‘Life Itself’, prompting the already frenzied crowd to sing along nostalgically.
Glass Animals have mastered that psychedelic, somewhat tribal beat that forces you to dance even if you don’t really want to. You can’t help but nod your head or tap your feet, and everyone at the Prince was letting themselves be consumed by that rhythm. No one was feeling it more than lead singer Dave Bayley, who was throwing an enormous amount of energy into the set.
His enjoyment and that of his fellow bandmates was palpable, and they paused about four songs in to address the crowd. Bayley expressed how grateful he was for everyone coming out, and then announced they’d be playing some new tracks with a sly smile. They launched into a Tropicana beat, but Bayley was almost rapping rather than singing for the next number. Maybe their collab with Denzel Curry was hinting at a new musical direction for the band.
After throwing himself into the song, Bayley literally threw himself into the crowd. He disappeared into the throng of people, reappearing atop the bar on the other side of the room. From here he sung ‘Gooey’, one of their most well-known and long-standing singles. Finishing the track back on stage with a flourish and a guitar solo, Bayley was emanating some serious rockstar energy.
They burnt through more songs from 2016’s How To Be A Human Being, belting out mammoth renditions of ‘Season 2 Episode 3’ and ‘Youth’. These drew equally impressive responses from the heaving crowd, and Bayley stopped singing on multiple occasions just to let the collective of voices shine through. It was pretty funny hearing a whole room of people scream “my girl eats mayonnaise, from a jar when she’s getting blazed”, and the band were delighted by it.
Bayley announced that the next tune was his favourite, and jumped up on top of the bass drum. Seaward sat behind him on the kit, grinning from ear to ear, as enthusiastic and impassioned as ever. The intro to ‘Agnes’ rung out, and for the following minutes they gave it their all. Bayley was spinning circles on the stage, while guitarist Drew MacFarlane and bassist Ed Irwin-Singer were shredding head to head. When the song ended they were all glowing with happiness, Bayley’s hands plastered to his cheeks at an attempt to contain his smile.
Planned encores are the norm these days, but when the band left the stage it really seemed like they wouldn’t be returning. They did, however, much to the delight of the hungry crowd. A cover of Gnarls Barkley’s ‘Crazy’ kicked them off, before ‘Pork Soda’ closed the night. Bayley launched a pineapple into the crowd (“pineapples are in my head”) which ended up being butchered, and showering everyone in sticky, gooey juice.
Glass Animals are one of those rare bands that musically hit the nail on the head every single time. Their songs are catchy, their performance enthralling, and they’re just bloody brilliant to watch, really. It’s so nice to see them back on stage, and hopefully they won’t be disappearing again anytime soon.
Highlight: Just how genuinely stoked they were to be there.
Lowlight: That it had to end.
Crowd favourite: ‘Season 2 Episode 3’.