(Photos by Shannon Hurst)
Due to a series of bad timing and overall bad luck, we get to The Zoo just in time for Drunk Mums, but have unfortunately missed Muddy Chanter, The Bear Hunt and Fight Ibis. The overall vibe of the crowd informs me that we’ve messed up majorly and missed something special. I can suddenly relate to a friend of mine who napped through the entirety of The Cure’s set at Falls last year. These kids are downright pumped for a Tuesday night and I have to keep reminding myself that most people have the day off tomorrow thanks to the Ekka public holiday. Unfortunately for me, hospitality never rests so I’m already dreading the early, no doubt hungover start that I’m in for tomorrow.
The main reason these lil groms are so over-the-top amped isn’t really about the Ekka though- we’re all here to see the boys from Hockey Dad rip it up on their sold out Aus tour.
We make our way over to the bar for some mangoes and obligatory people watching. If you’re on the prowl for a boyf with long, shaggy, beach hair/ a mo of some variety, who can likely surf or skateboard- The Zoo is the place to be tonight. The place is littered with these beautifully dishevelled males, wearing an array of band t-shirts that suggest they got dressed purely based on Hockey Dad’s related artists suggestions on Spotify.
Drunk Mums take the stage and the crowd go ham, flailing around with reckless abandon. By some disgusting act of un-Australian-ism I’ve never really listened to them before, but a quick browse of their Facebook page before the gig has me in high hopes. According their genre section, they play : “CATCHY ASS HARD ROCKIN PUNK”, and believe me- they sure flippen’ do. The mosh is downright impressive for a supporting act and their grungy, raw guitar riffs has the lot of us bouncing around the dance floor. Those who aren’t quite as up to speed with the Melbourne boys’ lyrics are spread around the venue, perched on pool tables, happy as Larry and jamming along. We take a moment to catch our breath and cool down to prepare ourselves physically and mentally for the main event.
It’s just after 11:45pm and way past my bedtime. Hockey Dad come on, but by this point I no longer care about work in the morning and am ready to get lewse and leave my soul on the D-floor. The anticipation was well and truly built over the night and as the NSW lads amble on stage, the crowd flips their proverbial lid. They open with Lull City and drummer/beautiful blonde babe, Billy Flemming, laughs over the crowd’s cheers as Zac sings his last note, “you guys are fucken nuts, hey,”
They launch into a series of their greatest hits, playing Jump the Gun, A Night Out With and Beach House with a few newbies seamlessly interjected in the mix. It’s hard to believe these guys only have one album and a handful of EP’s under their belt, as their practiced, yet uber relaxed, surf-rock sound is a familiar old friend thanks to constant love from Triple J and the like. The boys (and every other human in the building) start to break a sweat, but no complaints are heard. Billy and all the other long haired boys and girls just push their sweaty locks aside and keep on groovin’. I Need a Woman is up and the crowd step it up yet another notch- a feat I would’ve thought to be impossible five minutes prior. The mosh heaves left and right, a sea of elated grins and shakas raised high. As I’m thrown about like a rag roll, strangers hands reach out to support me and anyone else caught up in the ruckus to help save us from the sticky floor. There’s something just so heart-warming about Hockey Dad’s music and vibe that fills you up with joy whether you’re a die-hard fan, or a first timer.
As the boys thrash on, now playing crowd favourite Can’t Have Them, a boogey board pops up out of nowhere and respective lads with balls of steel, ride the mosh like a wave. It’s safe to say that in my 21 years I’ve never been to a gig where crowd surfing and diving is more frequent than people stepping on my toes. Jump after jump, people launch themselves off the edge of the stage and into the crowd’s waiting arms- it’s a beautiful sight to behold. “It’s mother fuckin’ cactus up here- it’s so hot ay,” says Zac before unleashing another new track on the all-too-willing crowd. He’s not wrong- but thankfully the speaker that I’m stood next to is blaring their delicious melodies so loud that it’s blowing a breeze onto my sweaty face.
When I feel like I can’t jam any longer, they announce their final song, Babes, and The Zoo pulls itself together one more time. I’m exhausted and overwhelmed and can’t wipe the shit-eating grin off my face. Feet are stomping, heads are bobbing and the venue collectively belt out the chorus, clapping along with the drums. We’re all on a high as we tumble out onto the street, basking in the cool night air of the Valley.