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Gig Review: Hungry Kids Of Hungary @ The East Brunswick Club, 20th August

Last night Hungry Kids Of Hungary played a sold out show to an energetic crowd at the East Brunswick Club. The night ended with twenty people jumping up on stage to dance and sing along with the band’s last two songs, but there was a lot of fun beforehand as well.

I arrived at the venue in time to catch all of The Holidays, which was great, because I missed most of their set when they last played a support slot in Melbourne. They were absolutely brilliant, and I would have happily paid the full ticket price just for this set.

They have a really great and unique live show, with your typical bouncy indie pop music that is complimented by the constant use of two percussionists, including ample use of bongos and skin drums. It created an almost obscenely fun atmosphere, which was helped by the band’s carefree attitude and the crowd’s clear love of the Sydney band.

Filling a 45 minute set it always a big ask for an opening act, but The Holidays pulled it off with no problems whatsoever. After all, their debut album is out in a bit over a month, so this was a good chance for them to roadtest a lot of material.

However the highlights of their set came in the form of songs the crowd were already familiar with. Moonlight Hours was absolutely awesome, with its driving drum beat and floating vocals. The end of the song saw most of the band leave their regular instruments to join in on percussion (as if there wasn’t enough already), with the result being that everyone except frontman Simon Jones were playing some kind of drum.

The band were clearly very pleased with the turnout- the East Brunswick Club was pretty much full, and people clearly had no reservations about crowding around the very front of the stage, which can sometimes happen with opening acts.

After playing a run of new songs from their upcoming debut album and thanking the crowd repeatedly, the band finished with the excellent Golden Sky, which got the whole crowd moving and singing. The Holidays were the perfect support act: charming, so very much fun, completely enjoyable, and a great warm up for what was to come.

There was a half hour wait before the main act, which is a decent time for such a small venue, but it did allow room for the East Brunswick Club to completely fill up and for anticipation to grow. Finally, the curtains parted and Hungry Kids Of Hungary took to the stage.

They looked as happy as always, and wasted no time whatsoever in breaking into two unknown songs. It wasn’t quite the blistering start I had been expecting, but as the band have their debut album due out in a couple of months, it was inevitable that there was going to a bit of new material here.

Both the first two songs were fun, but the night really got started with Let You Down. It is just such a fun song, and was immediately greeted with huge applause and screams from the crowd, who proceeded to sing along to every word and dance more than the enclosed space should rightfully allow.

Keyboardist Kane and guitarist Dean shared the lead vocals perfectly, creating for a really fun and energetic atmosphere, especially when coupled with backing form bassist Ben and drummer Ryan. Kane informed the crowd that the band had run out of frisbees to throw into the crowd, having injured a girl at a previous gig, which was a huge disappointment.

The bandmembers were just as full of life as their music is. They really helped endear their songs to the audience with relaxed banter, jokes, and energetic stage antics. Old Money was great, even if it is one of their less upbeat songs.

Things got moving again with the brilliant Scattered Diamonds, making a surprise mid-set appearance. Once again, this is one of those tracks that is just so much fun to hear and sing along to live, and at some points it almost seemed like the crowd could happily take over lead vocals. “Last night the weekend caught us up, we fell in fits across the floor. Scattered diamonds through your dress, and curses through your door”. It was euphoric.

Yet another song from their excellent EP ‘Mega Mountain’ made an appearance with Two Stones, and was of course great, as it gave Kane a chance to really let loose on lead vocals. Wristwatch (all one and a half minutes of it) was a definite highlight. It was just so frantic, passing in a whirlwind of jangly guitar and bouncing up and down. It was over much too fast, but was awesome nevertheless.

It seemed much too soon when the band departed the stage, but everyone knew there was going to be an encore, in what is undeniably the stupidest tradition in live music. Sure enough, after just a few minutes of enthusiastic cheering, the band were back.

During their main set the band had passed out percussion instruments to members of the crowd, and one recipient requested that she deserved a spot on the stage for her role in the show as soon as the band reappeared. The crowd of course agreed, and the band were more than happy to allow her to get up on stage with them.

And of course, once one audience member is up on stage, the rest is inevitable. Sure enough, before the band even broke into the first song of their encore, ten more people had joined them on stage, and by the time they were halfway through it, another ten had as well, including myself.

It was my second stage invasion, and was just awesome. It was so surreal seeing the hundreds of faces in the crowd, and a huge amount of fun dancing and singing along on stage with the band, with dozens of other people, arms around each other. It’s definitely a very different perspective on a gig, and it was absolutely wonderful to experience it again.

The band’s encore consisted of Lenny and Good Times, the latter of which definitely summed up the feeling of all of us on the stage: “Let the good times roll!”. Being up on stage was so much fun, and I wanted the encore to go on forever, but after what seemed like no time whatsoever it was over, and we were forced to make our way carefully off the stage, smiling broadly at what we had just taken part in.

Meeting the band after the show was cool as well, as they just hung around the merch desk. I managed to grab a display poster, ripping it in the process, and I love Ben’s attempts to stitch it up:

There was a hell of a lot to like about this gig even before the ending, but the stage invasion turned it from a really good gig into a really great one. It was very memorable, especially considering that none of the artists involved have released a studio album yet.

The Holidays were the perfect opening act, and Hungry Kids Of Hungary put on a show like only they can. It was full of moments of madness, but a constant throughout the whole set, whether the band were playing well-known hits, trialling new songs, partaking in a stage invasion, handing out instruments to the crowd, or saying how much they loved playing in Melbourne, was a sense of carefree fun and excitement that few other bands capture quite as well as the lads from Brisbane.

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