Live Review: Stonecutters (Night #1) Queens Theatre, Adelaide (16.09.16)

Adelaide’s hard rocking mini festival Stonecutters returned for its second year, boasting a colossal line-up of the loudest and loosest bands going around. Held over two days in Adelaide’s Queen’s Theatre, the gathering doubled in size since its last romp, playing host to local, national and international bands.

Local lads Larsen kicked off night one, bringing their own brand of alt-rock to the stage. The four-piece made the most of their 25-minute window, playing tracks from their latest EP, Another Realm, Another Day, to a scattered but attentive crowd. The four-piece set the tone for the rest of the bill, highlighting the festival’s top-notch quality from the get-go.

Hyder Seek was up next. While vocalist Bec Stevens was left to perform without the rest of the band, her honest and raw style of performing rendered her constant apologies totally unnecessary. Taking an acoustic approach, each of the tracks seamlessly blended into one another. A cover of Spice Girls’ “Too Much” emphasised Stevens’ ability to effortlessly adapt a track to her own sound, making the almost twenty-year-old hit seem like a newly-penned original.

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The festival’s first ever international act Rozwell Kid made a huge impact on the growing crowd with their unique brand of slacker rock paired with electric riffs and otherworldly effects. Their set consisted of short tracks, offering up sprawling variety that kept the mosh hooked. After spitting out their seventh song, vocalist Jordan Hudkins declared, ‘We fucking nailed it,’ which turned out to be representative of their entire set. Ending their time on stage thrashing around on the ground, the band’s unwavering energy became a highlight of the night.

Alex Lahey hit the stage as part of her B-Grade University Tour, getting a chance to play tracks off her debut EP of the same name. Rocking out in a tshirt and jeans, Lahey kept it simple, letting her stage presence do the talking. The simplicity carried through to her setlist, with her songs using pared-down riffs and concepts to focus on enveloping the crowd with bounding energy.

Her down-to-earth personality shone throughout the set, undeniably peaking when telling the audience about forgetting a giant bag of merch at Hindley Street’s KFC. Bouncing through tracks like “You Don’t Think You Like People Like Me”, “Let’s Go Out” and unreleased newbie “Every Day’s A Weekend”, the set was utterly relatable and inescapably fun.

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Adelaide punk rockers Hightime took their turn next—this is when things got rowdy. Barrelling through their albums Ishi Prende and Mother Crab, the crowd indulged in a mix of hard-hitting punk and beachside vibes, creating a vibrant contrast between the band’s tracks. Crowdsurfing kicked in during the short, fast, loud numbers, emphasising the boisterous moshpit below. Although the band’s drummer had two broken ribs, the live show didn’t suffer one bit, instead it stood out as one of the more memorable acts of the night—a unique local band worth checking out.

Melbourne screamo band High Tension turned things up a few notches from the minute they hit the stage. Karina Utomo’s vocals pierced the crowd with an unexpected level of brutality, rarely taking on the form of anything other than intense growls while the drummer snapped her kick pedal in half from blasting through the full-on set. Gritty and fierce, this band is a refreshing take on the post-hardcore scene, offering up a unique sound largely due to Utomo’s powerful chords.

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Adelaide favourites The Hard Aches were welcomed to the stage with open arms. The at-capacity crowd seemed to be clued in to each of the band’s tracks, belting out lyrics other than just the chorus. “Loser” and “I Get Like This” went off with a bang, with the moshpit growing the furthest it had all night. The local duo’s performance itself was unwavering and remained high-octane from beginning to end, cementing their standing in Adelaide’s music scene. Although their time on stage capped at half an hour, it was a highlight of the night.

Closing night one was psychedelic/rock/reggae/punk band The Bennies, accompanied by ciggies in-hand and a giant rainbow scarf adorning Anty’s neck. The long-haired hooligans had everyone glued to the stage, while smoke from countless joints appropriately clouded the crowd. Their latest LP Wisdom Machine got ample playtime, with “Party Machine” and “Detroit Rock Ciggies” leaving their mark.

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Absolutely exhausted but raring for more, the packed out crowd crawled out of Queens Theatre to prepare for round two.

Images: John Goodridge.