Photos by BandAnna Photography
It’s no surprise their 2018 album has been so well received.
Elizabeth Stokes, Jonathan Pearce, Benjamin Sinclair, and new drummer Tristan Deck have been relentlessly touring the world as The Beths since the release of their snappy debut album Future Me Hates Me last year.
Following a long run of shows throughout Europe and the UK, the United States and Canada, the band have made their way back Down Under this October, playing a bunch of gigs in Australia and the Asia Pacific region before they return to their home soil of New Zealand in November to conclude 2019.
Playing the second of two sold-out shows at Melbourne’s The Gasometer Hotel on Friday October 4, the band appeared somewhat awkward at times, if not actually a little uncomfortable on stage interacting with the audience. But this did little to dull the crowd’s enthusiasm; after all, it’s that very self-conscious, unassuming quality that makes the band so endearing and genuinely relatable. The crowd were perhaps a little awkward and timid to start also, but they quickly settled into the fun and jubilant energy that The Beths created with each rendition off their debut.
Banging out songs from their album with swift precision, the title track came along quicker than most were anticipating. What followed was the impeccable musical timing and skilful harmonies of ‘Whatever’, and by this time, polite head-nodding had transformed into more relaxed bopping as the deceivingly bright and catchy music hid Stokes’ more sombre lyrics.
The Beths played two new tracks as well as a frolicking fast-paced cover of Crowded House’s ‘Fall At Your Feet’ before returning to their known material. Fan favourite ‘Happy Unhappy’ had everyone dancing about to music so upbeat and joyous it masked the cautiousness and the hesitance of falling in love that is reflected in much of Stokes’ songwriting. The beautifully crafted ‘River Run: Lvl 1’ provided a reprieve from the high energy and fast strumming that The Beths carry out so well and the audience revelled in the heavy guitars and emotional punch of lyrics, “I felt you pulling away from me / The burn in your eyes / I replay it constantly / You said try to be happy / I try to be happy”.
The band closed their hour-ish long set with some of their most loved tracks on the record. Brutally honest ‘You Wouldn’t Like Me’ included audience participation by way of percussive hand-clapping while the closest track to a break-up anthem ‘Uptown Girl’ played out with sassy attitude. The band took one of the shortest breathers off stage before jumping back on to finish with ‘Little Death’ to everyone’s headbanging delight.
The Beths have released a brilliant debut record. It has all the cosiness and warmth of good pop music as well as the intense energy and heavy guitars of good rock. Stokes’ vocals lack the frills but pay the bills with their understated and pleasant tone and the accompanying backing harmonies of her bandmates help to create an air of nostalgia and familiarity.
The Beths are dorky and quirky and ever-loveable. Stokes’ lyrics are disarmingly heartfelt and emotionally laden, but she still manages to inject light, and joy and humour into otherwise fairly dark and melancholic content. They’re a great live band that are only getting better with each performance.