“Our name is One Direction and we’re glad to be here,” quips Sam Cromack. The lead singer of Ball Park Music clearly revelled in the spotlight as the band took to the stage for their fourth show at the Corner Hotel on their 180 Degree tour.
The joke is obvious of course and not one of his best but the bands ability to not take themselves too seriously while still displaying excellent musicianship is what made the show the enlivening performance that it was. Cromack’s irreverent wit is easily heard on their debut album but it’s amplified through his wacky onstage persona.
His humorous banter was the gut-busting sideshow to the bands enthralling set. Their stage antics of throwing fruit into the crowd and at each other during the encore not only signified their intent of entertaining the audience, but to enjoy it as much themselves.
While the opening slot of Them Swoops was marred by technical difficulties, Yes You had a successful outing in their first ever Melbourne show, drawing the crowd closer to the stage with James O’Brien from The Boat People joining them for “Half of It”.
From the outset, Ball Park were easily convincing as one of the country’s most exciting live bands. Opening with “Miserlou” from Pulp Fiction, the song ran seamlessly into “Literally Baby”. Playing songs mostly from last year’s debut, Happiness and Surrounding Suburbs, although the band didn’t leave their signature song til the very end, choosing to encore with the Kinks’ “All Day and All of the Night.”
2011 was definitely Ball Park Music’s breakout year, their Unearthed win capturing the band’s success and translating it into a performance like this, where every song garnered a sing-a-long. Jennifer Boyce’s announcement of their recent Like A Version received the sort of reaction that only confirmed the obvious; that Triple J’s key demographic were represented well here. It was easily justifiable though, their cover of The Flaming Lips’ “Do You Realise” was nothing short of breath-taking. Amongst the pop songs, that cover and their performance of “Alligator” demonstrated they are more than capable of pulling off the somber songs.
While two new songs “Surrender” and “Pot of Gold” were graced with an expected amount of uncertainty, their bigger songs in the form of “iFly” and “Sad Rude Future Dude” had the crowd show all sorts of manic excitement. And when the band stopped during the latter to coax the audience into cheering their lungs out, Cromack rated their enthusiasm by replying, “I give it a six out of ten” without giving the crowd a chance to outdo themselves.
Although the band haven’t quite reached the 360 degree heights of a U2 tour, Ball Park Music perfected the 180 degrees at the Corner Hotel. With an abundance of talent, who knows what the Brisbane band might achieve in the coming years and what form of satire they might bring with them.