I first met Ecca Vandal at BIGSOUND in 2014. I don’t quite remember the venue we were at, or what label/showcase night it was, but I remember having this girl introduced to me as being one to watch. “White Flag” was teetering on breaking through thanks to coverage on [V] and then once more blogs and radio began picking up what Ecca was forcefully throwing down, I sat back and thought, “Well, damn…”.
And now we’re here. The Melbourne artist was back in Adelaide for her own headline show after making a solid impression on punters in 2015 on the back off support slots for Gang of Youths and Birds of Tokyo. Unfortunately, the odds are against Ecca and her supports on this night, Brisbane’s WAAX. The Adelaide stop on the ‘End of Time Tour’ also coincides with the third Friday of the Adelaide Fringe Festival, meaning that the normal Rocket Bar club night people pour out to finds itself up against the multitude of festival happenings down the city’s east end and central CBD.
It’s always going to be a bit of a task to get a venue full of people locked down for a night of live music up the city’s west end when the rest of the city is in full Fringe Festival swing. Still, Rocket Bar maintains a loyal following of 18-27 year olds who are looking to be seen at the club on a Friday night, so when some killer punk rock music came through, I knew it was going to be an amusing set up to be a part of.
A decent amount of people were in the joint when we arrived, local act Sin City Committee were already well into their opening set and the main band room was already hot and filled with smoke. After a brief stint upstairs at the rooftop bar, we headed back downstairs into the band room where WAAX were beginning to leave a brilliant impression on the people in front of the stage.
Lead vocalist Marie DeVita is a firecracker on stage – her voice is even more brutal live than it is on record. It’s not often I find myself leaning more towards a band’s live sound over the recorded, produced version, but WAAX have something ferocious about their live set up that just can’t be replicated in studio. Not to the same extent, anyway, I feel. It’s clear that a solidly building resume of live shows behind them is paying off well and yet, although their sound is slick on stage, WAAX aren’t afraid to pull punches and wake people the fuck up.
I remember when I first got my hands on the Holy Sick EP, I hadn’t been so keen to see where a rock band out of Brisbane since I’d heard We Don’t Belong Here by Violent Soho back in 2009. WAAX only reinforced that excitement when I saw them shake Rocket’s walls and have the place heaving as we approached midnight.
Which brings me to the lead lady of the night. Backed by her always tight band of musos in Kidnot, Stacey Gray and Dan Maio, Ecca wasted no time going in on the Rocket Bar crowd, evoking arms waving furiously back and forth, heads and bodies thrashing in every direction. Her music positions Ecca as a force to be reckoned with and as her small frame lunged forward over the edge of the stage, wailing through “Battle Royal” before sinking into the insatiable groove of the tune as Kidnot’s production filtered out over everyone brilliantly.
Of course, we’re all gathered to celebrate the End of Time EP and to give the band on stage their credit, the music was executed with the amount of edge and cutting vibrancy you’d expect. There’s a tight as fuck dynamic existing with Ecca and the boys that is white hot; just watch the grins that make their way across Gray’s face when he’s working his way around the guitar, or each time Kidnot surely shreds the hell out of his thumb when he takes to his Rickenbacker furiously on those dominating bass lines. It’s nuts.
Musically, what Ecca Vandal’s show proved on Friday night is that we’re in a great time for some new, boundary-pushing music to be given its time within this industry. “Father Hu$$la”, “End of Time” and of course, “White Flag” are great examples of the amalgamation of sounds Ecca plays with, but it’s not a mishmash by any means – there’s a great deal of technical flair applied that is excellent to see unveiled live.
Whenever you have the opportunity to see Ecca Vandal perform this year, do not sleep on it.