Live Review: The Hard Aches bring Mess loud and proud to Sydney’s Oxford Art Factory

On Friday night, the art space otherwise known as Oxford Arts Factory in Sydney was busy and buzzing for the Mess album launch tour for The Hard Aches, the two-piece from Adelaide.

Forgetting how bad parking was in Darlinghurst but playing it off as being fashionably late, I dragged my two friends along to the industrial venue that had cool vibes and cooler looking people. Feeling a little out of place, we were in time for the last of the support acts. The night started off well when we discovered Antonia & The Lazy Susans for the first time. What was even better was discovering that the talented indie folk/punk band is from our own area of the Blue Mountains. The group seemed very young but their enthusiasm was infectious and while they had some technical difficulties they were so polite and professional. Starting with their song “I Don’t Like You” from their EP, we automatically got Ruby Fields vibes with special mention of lead singer Antonia Susan’s voice that was so strong. Playing a track called “Grandfather” which was ‘for anyone who has lost someone’ they had the crowd singing along to their heartfelt lyrics. After letting everyone enjoy some of their new music ending with “Home Here With Your Friends” they proclaimed that “The Hard Aches are up next and its gonna be fucking magical”… and magical it was.

The Hard Aches were on time to their set, started strong with title track “Mess” then stuffed up a few seconds into their song. Didn’t seem to matter with the heavy drums and guitar getting everyone moving and singing straight away. “Get Outta My House” had such a catchy beat with strong vocals, giving the crowd a taste of what the story telling punk rock duo’s new album – centring around mental health – has to offer.

Expressing their pride in their album and happiness to be sharing it with the ‘beautiful people in the crowd’ they shifted into some of their older stuff. You could sense the difference with more rock in “Loser” making it a true head banger. This only increased when they melted into “Brain Drain”.

They took it up another level with fast paced playing that started a little mosh pit going for “Breakdown”, which was a crowd favourite. Feeling the energy in room they ended with, “Holy fuck yeah everyone!”

Being an album about shared experiences and things you go through the songs have a strong emphasis on the very well written lyrics. “Warm Blooded” was no exception along with “Alcohol and Cigarettes” which was upbeat but you could feel the emotion as everyone was rocking out. There was a distinct difference in sound from their older stuff but everyone was digging it including the band themselves that work so well together and have great stage presence.

“Terrible Things” had a big finish before they dedicated their song “Friendship” to Sincerely, Grizzly for supposedly ‘scaring the shit out of everyone’. Getting Antonia from earlier in the night back on stage they finally played the song that they dubbed ‘the song from the radio’. “Happy”, as its true name, made the whole crowd happy with her vocals complimenting them well.

Caught up in chanting the lyrics, ‘You’ve moved on so I’ll move out,‘ with everybody I lost focus for a moment more concerned with the guy in front of me and the very real issue of his head possibly falling off as he was banging it so much. We realised this was the least of our issues as “I Get Like This” was when everyone well and truly lost it. Guys stumbling away from the front who couldn’t hand the mosh anymore. Someone tried to jump on the stage getting manhandled and carried away showing that good, old fashioned gigs still exist.

Not thinking it really could get any crazier they played “Gut Full” then ended with “Glad That You’re Gone” for their last song. The boys know how to put on a show. They wanted to do this tour to get their new music out there but by the looks and sounds of it the album is already a success and can only gain more attention which it truly deserves.

The reviewer attended this show on April 20th.

Photo by Kerrie Geier in Adelaide.