Gig Review: British India, Corner Hotel, 6th November

British India

Last Friday, Aussie rockers British India played a capacity gig at the Corner Hotel in their hometown of Melbourne. The band are touring around the country, apparently for the release of their new single, ‘Vanilla’. Really, though, it’s just an excuse to, well… tour around the country.

And that’s because playing live is what these guys do best. Their recorded stuff has always been good, yes, but it doesn’t really prepare you for the sheer energy of their live show. Their songs seem to just come to life when they’re playing them on a hot summer night to a packed room full of sweaty but joyous fans who know all the words.

I’ll start with the openers. Unfortunately I missed the first support act, ‘Big Scary’, however I checked out some of their recorded stuff and it sounds like pretty good, chilled out jam music. I saw the second opener however, ‘Bright Yellow’. I wasn’t familiar with this band, but they played a pretty tight set, and you could see why British India picked them for their raw live sound. However overall they came off as trying too hard, perhaps exemplified by the fact that the lead singer wore sunglasses for the entire set. Bring on British India, thought the crowd.

And bring it they did. Lead Singer Declan Melia, in his trademark hoodie, had the crowd hanging on his every word from the first tune. Perhaps surprisingly, the second song of the set was ‘Tie Up My Hands’, probably British India’s most well-known song. Unfortunately the crowd weren’t really into it at this early point in the set, and it didn’t work that well. The band though, like the crowd, were just getting warmed up.

What followed passed in a blur of loud music, jumping up and down a lot, and, surprisingly, stage invaders. The security personnel at the Corner are some seriously chilled out dudes. One guy even got up on stage and managed to ‘sing’ (I am using this word very lightly) a line of a song into the mic, as well as hug band members, in the middle of a song, before being escorted calmly off the stage.

Yes, this was a real rock gig. None of these half-rock gigs where you’re not really sure what to do in the crowd. You knew that you better bloody well be jumping up and down like a lunatic, or you were most likely going to get crushed. British India reeled off a very satisfying setlist that included favourites ‘God Is Dead, Meet The Kids’, ‘Russian Roulette’, ‘Black And White Radio’, and ‘Run The Red Light’.

Of course, this being a single launch show, they had to play ‘Vanilla’, from upcoming full-length ‘Avalanches’, but it is thankfully a great rock song, and went over very well with the crowd, many of whom already were able to sing along loudly. Credit to British India though, because although they played a few new songs, they didn’t get carried away- as Declan said, “Don’t you just hate it when you go to a gig and they play all this new stuff you can’t sing along with?”. Yeah Declan, we do! Especially when that band has a back-catalogue like British India, despite having only released two full-length records.

British India played for only an hour, but I doubt anyone in that room thought they had been short-changed. What we witnessed was not the coming of age of a group of local rockers, but rather a defiant stand for youth, rebellion, and above all else, great rock music.

I hope you never grow up, British India.

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