I’m mostly familiar with Brisbane indie-pop band, The Goon Sax from their songs, ‘Psychic’ and ‘In the Stone’, so I knew they were talented.
Riley Jones (vocals, drums, lead guitar), Louis Forster (vocals, rhythm guitar, bass) and James Harrison (bass, rhythm guitar, backing vocals) have showed off some epic song writing that not only impressed me, but made me excited to see what they were like live. Luckily, I had the opportunity to see them as part of the RISING Festival at Max Watt’s on Thursday June 2nd.
An epic opening from EXEX provided a hard act to follow but The Goon Sax didn’t disappoint. The crowd were hooked from the moment the band stepped onto the stage. Having already been mystified, the first chords of ‘She Knows’ seriously got the crowd going. James Harrison put so much enthusiasm into his playing and it was obvious that he enjoyed every moment of it. The harmonies between Louis Forster and Riley Jones during the chorus also sounded just as strong live as it did on the recording, showing off remarkable vocal skills that perhaps many in the crowd did not know already about the band. But they did now.
‘Psychic’ is a song that sounds surprisingly better live than on the album. The chemistry that the band had in every note they played and having watched them subtly interact with each other was really lovely, and is the kind of chemistry I’d rarely seen in a younger band. ‘Psychic’ was undoubtedly a crowd favourite, not because of its popularity, but because of how perfectly it was played the second the synth started alongside Foster’s bass playing, where you then instantly knew exactly what song was coming. Jones sounded almost angelic, hearing her soft tone alongside Forster’s deeper timbre is a juxtaposition that works so perfectly, it’s hard to not be hypnotised.
Getting to hear ‘In the Stone’ live was what I’d been looking forward to the most, and I wasn’t disappointed. Recordings don’t always translate well to live performances, and this proved to be another exception. Even with Jones on the drums, she doesn’t lose any stage presence. Harrison plays the bass with the same enthusiasm he does playing the guitar and singing lead vocals. I just need to mention again how tight these guys are as a live band.
The setlist was a perfect mix of songs featured from their newest album ‘Mirror II’ and previous albums, ‘We’re Not Talking’ and ‘Up To Anything’. With three albums under their belt, it seems like, The Goon Sax have already got a solid understanding of the way to keep long term listeners happy, and to introduce newer fans to songs they might not have heard yet.
‘Boyfriend’, a Beach Boys meets Talking Heads track from The Goon Sax’s album, ‘Up to Anything’ proved that it wasn’t just the newer tracks that the crowd wanted to hear. It might have been one of their older songs on the setlist, but it was a great way to show the growth that the band has had over the last six years.
Unfortunately, there were several technical issues during the gig, but this clearly didn’t matter to the crowd, as they were loving every second. The band had barely left the stage before the classic chant of “One more song!” was coming from the audience. This is a testament to not only their prowess as a live band and their ability to put on a great show, but also to the love that their fans have for them, meaning that overall, the technical issues didn’t matter. The crowd hadn’t had enough and hungered for more.
The final song for the night was ‘Sweaty Hands’ that the crowd longed for, which provided a solid finish to the entertaining set. Forster was getting closer, sharing sweeter moments with the crowd, the whole encore was just playful fun and the perfect finale.
Despite technical issues out of their control, and performing a full set, the crowd were aching for more from The Goon Sax, showcasing just how understanding and supportive they were for the band, which in and of itself is a huge credit to the band. They remained a crowd pleaser, transfixing the crowd (including myself) with their flawless talent and unteachable chemistry, but simply put – The Goon Sax put on a killer show.
The Goon Sax performed at Max Watt’s in Melbourne as part of the RISING Festival on June 2.
For more information on both The Goon Sax and the RISING Festival, visit:
Photography by Izzie Austin.