Dead Letter Circus were set to open Zierholz when they passed through Canberra late last year. Since that plan fell through and the venue hadn’t opened, it only seems fitting that they’re back to play the newly opened bar this time around on their Sleepwalker tour.
Melbourne band Twelve Foot Ninja kicked the night off at 8.30, for what was a respectably-sized crowd. With a strong reputation for explosive live performances, they didn’t disappoint. They also set themselves apart stylistically, with what could only be described as a mix between heavy, gritty prog, and funky guitar jams. Despite the crowd seeming a little lukewarm at the time, they did a great job of warming everyone up.
Texan’s Fair to Midland were up next, and they certainly threw themselves straight into things. Vocalist Darroh Sudderth flung himself across the stage, with his eccentric and entertaining stage presence holding the crowd’s attention through most of the set. Their music was grandiose in scale, and that translated well, but it felt like Sudderth’s vocal levels were all over the place. It also could have been the acoustics of the venue that affected their sound, but that said it’s a small complaint in comparison to the performance they gave. “Musical Chairs” and “Dance of the Manatee” sounded particularly great, and they proved themselves to be a band to keep a very close eye on.
Dead Letter Circus took to the stage, this time without guitarist Rob Maric. In his place was Clint Vincent of Australian band Melodyssey, who filled in superbly, nailing every delay-filled riff they brought out. They ran through plenty of fan favourites like “Reaction”, “Next In Line”, and “Disconnect and Apply”, and for the most part, it was a brilliant set list. Kim Benzie’s voice soared as usual, and bassist Stewart Hill took to the stage with such energy that it felt as if he was stealing the show on more than a few occasions. We got a drum solo from Luke Williams, and they also ran through their latest single, “Wake Up” – which sounded significantly more impressive live than it does recorded. It was slightly disappointing that they didn’t close the night with “This Is The Warning”, but when the rest of the set was so tight, it was hard to care too much.
Dead Letter Circus are consistently excellent live, and it’s rewarding them in more ways than one. With a solid fan-base and regular rotation on triple j, they’re showing everyone else just what it takes to succeed. Aspiring musicians: watch carefully, and learn how to captivate an audience. Dead Letter Circus have nailed it.