You’d assume Monday night gigs would be met with trepidation from touring bands. No matter how phenomenal you sound (very, in the case of Hungry Kids of Hungary), the band’s enthusiasm isn’t necessarily going to be reciprocated.
Unfortunately for Hungry Kids of Hungary, their audience seemed to have fully absorbed the messages of all those witty Mondayitis memes they’d scrolled past on Instagram that morning and brought the negative vibe with them. Apathy was rampant and it was a real shame.
To their credit, HKOK seemed to have anticipated a lackluster crowd – or at least read them perfectly from the get-go. The tracks played like iTunes set to crossfade, with only one real break for banter. Considering the mood, the boys really had no choice but to make it all about the music.
From that perspective, boy oh boy, what a set.
In a band with two main vocalists, you’d anticipate subtle power struggles to permeate the performance. Not the case here.
Dean McGrath and Kane Mazlin switch roles seamlessly and the effect is greater depth in the set list.
The Calypso opening riff to “Scattered Diamonds” gets a rise out of the audience for its familiarity. When the song picks up pace, the whole band goes crazy, attacking their instruments, nailing vocals and flailing their limbs. Still, these passionate outbursts don’t influence the crowd into letting loose a little.
There’s a definite distinction between old and new material, but it’s not jarring.
“Sharpshooter”, from their edgier second album You’re A Shadow, is a standout. There’s energy, a clever chord progression and everyone exercises their vocal chops.
In the current Aussie indie-rock climate, no one does whole-band harmonies like Hungry Kids of Hungary do.
Despite essentially being a tortured love song, they play “Someone Else’s Fool” in their usual upbeat fashion. It doesn’t detract from its meaning, but fits perfectly with the band’s relaxed and lighthearted nature.
There’s nothing like a good cover for an encore and Talking Heads’ “Road To Nowhere” was an excellent choice. Mazlin brought his own spin to the classic but managed to channel a decent amount of David Byrne in the process.
You can’t get a proper taste of how talented these Kids are until you see them live and experience the bouncy, indie freshness for yourself. Or in the words of the apathetic fans, “Like, you know, whatever.”