Upon entering Goodgod Small Club at 10:30 PM my immediate thought was, “Good god this is a small club…” as though the accuracy of the venue’s name was some sort of shock. No, the real shock was that Canadians Holy Fuck, with three critically lauded albums behind them, and a fourth on the way, were playing at a venue with a capacity of ‘roughly 200’ people. It was a very humble atmosphere, with the four members on stage setting up their own equipment; a spiderweb of cables stringing between the terrifying array of keyboards, pedals and obscure sound sources, most remarkable of these being Brian Borcherdt’s 35mm film synchroniser-cum-turntables.
They came and went in preparation for the set, and after a ‘where’s our drummer gone’ moment the band made their way on stage and huddled around their instruments. With each member facing inward, not out to the heaving mass of bodies, their eyes locked as the click for their new single ‘Sabbatics’ begun, and it was clear they weren’t just playing to the crowd, they were making the music for themselves. While initially this self involvement seemed alienating, the intense engagement of each member of the group became incredibly captivating, as the contours of the music formed around the subtle exchanges between the players. It’s a completely different kind of stage presence, with no pretence, especially in such an intimate venue with the band only elevated inches above the audience and within arm’s reach. It was a delightfully mystifying tumult, near impossible to identify exactly how their sound was produced or how such cohesion was achieved, as Borcherdt and co-front Graham Walsh manipulated countless devices whilst vocalising into heavily altered microphones, and drummer Matt Schulz and bassist Matt McQuaid held a tight groove. As the band opened up you found yourself unable to stand still, instead clumsily dancing, bouncing and jogging on the spot; swept away by the waves of rich, hard hitting sound as Holy Fuck rattled off a well balanced set list.
After a few tracks Walsh piped up, thanking the crowd, easing the tension and giving a précis of the remainder of the set, to be comprised of both the new and the old. Five brand new tracks were dropped, including both sides of the 7 inch single they had pressed for this Australian tour, ‘Chimes Broken’ and ‘Sabbatics’, as well as a smattering of the finest from their previous two albums, Latin and LP.
Come the middle of the set perspiration had begun to fly and adrenaline was pumping, and Borcherdt admits, “This is a lot more fun than getting shit thrown at us at Groovin’ the Moo.” Making you wonder why at the nationwide festival Holy Fuck was placed in a time slot which saw their grimy electronic rock inappropriately sandwiched between the gas-head’s dream dance sets, Wave Racer and What So Not.
After a string of familiar songs the band gave rendition of the ballsy ‘SHT MTN’ and bid farewell, wandering awkwardly to the side of the stage and returning to their instruments after about 15 seconds of cheering and wild applause. “The mystique of the encore is kind of ruined when there’s no back stage…” Borcherdt chuckled into the microphone while McQuaid changed a bass string and Walsh and Schulz provided a novel jam to fill the awkward silence. The encore opened with their strangely uplifting signature song ‘Lovely Allen’, much to everyone’s delight, and ended all too soon with the high pace, driving number ‘Stilettos’. The audience was thanked once again, the lights came up and the crowd dispersed, pushing out the doors or flooding the merch stand. There were two words on everybody’s lips, ‘Holy Fuck!’.
Verdict – Definitely worth attending.
- Broken Chimes
- Latin America
- New Track
- New Track
- Stay Lit
- New track
- Red Lights
- Royal Gregory
- Super Inuit
- SHT MTN
- String Change Jam
- Lucky Alan