When four out of five Ball Park Music members walk off stage leaving Sam Cormack alone with his acoustic guitar, there’s a sense that he knows exactly how big an impact his band has had on the Triple J-listening concert goers of the early 2010s.
ANU Bar on a Thursday night might not be the main stage at Splendour In The Grass, but it sure feels the same when the chorus to ‘It’s Nice To Be Alive’ kicks in. There was the group of high schoolers who were too young to buy tickets but who got in anyway and probably missed the whole gig because they were too busy hugging each other and dancing. Then there was the guy standing at the back of the crowd in his own little world, singing the vocal harmonies instead of the melody.
The band themselves are pure fire. Cuts from their latest record ‘Every Night The Same Dream’ sounded urgent. ‘Pariah’, a seven-odd minute daceable fuzzy mess, got pole position in the well-paced set list while bassist, Jennifer Boyce, and drummer, Daniel Hanson (aka the 1-2-3-4 guy from the ‘Nihilist Party Anthem’ film clip), kept the crowd buzzing all the way through.
Sahara Beck, with her reserved yet commanding delivery was a pleasant surprise in the opening slot. “All things good come with pain,” she sang on one number – it’s fair to say more good things are on the way from her. Second on the bill were The Creases. Their awkward stage presence and bland 1-4-1 chord progressions made them feel like a lame version of local heroes Capes. “We woke up at five this morning to drive here,” said the lead singer part way through their set. “Anyway, this song’s about taking acid.” Yeah man… inspiring stuff.
Ball Park rightfully stole the show. Odes to modern-day cynicism like ‘Everything Is Shit Except My Friendship With You’, ‘Coming Down’ and ‘Sad Rude Future Dude’ made the band feel like a twisted reincarnation of Crowded House. Ball Park has a habit of writing songs that feel as though you’ve known them your whole life; it turns out I know all the words to ‘Everything is shit…’ and share it’s joyous pessimism with at least five hundred other people. I’m pretty sure Cormack understands that. “We’re gonna do an old song”, he said before launching into ‘Fence Sitter’. “It’s from 2012 though, so it’s not that old.”
Ball Park Music performed at ANU bar on Thursday 29/9/16.