Words: Matt Annett
Photography: Kyle Wilkinson
While some punk gigs are framed by crumbling walls of abandoned buildings or the cracked concrete of community-built skateparks (shout-out to The Tannery DIY), patrons of The Retreat prefer a fireside gig.
The crown jewel of Sydney Road hosted Mess, Hannah Kate and headliners Kill Bell on a chilly night in late May, and what a complementary lineup it was.
The openers, Mess, were unphased by the modest crowd of head-nodders, and came out with a memorable sense of style, both musically and fashion-wise. Vocalist Tilly Sage single-handedly channeled the band’s appreciation of the colour orange (seriously, that shit was glowstick-orange from shoes to hair) while blasting her merciless lyrics over George McNab’s stellar drumming.
Also, credit where credit’s due: they covered a song from Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift, (and introduced it as such) and did it so well that I almost want to watch that movie again. Keep an eye out for this bunch.
Next up was Hannah Kate, whose warm and echoey lyrics evoked a combination of King Krule and Angie McMahon. Kate and the rest of her outfit put together a solid performance that fit the mood in The Retreat’s fireside band room as well as it might in a sunny midsummer backyard.
Having deemed The Retreat worthy, Kill Bell triumphantly arrived onstage to launch their latest album, I Don’t Think I have What you Want. Lead singer and bassist Charlie Pass’ powerful, smooth vocals conjured an air of composure in the band room, paraded so well in tracks like Sad Song and Grrl, while more low-key tracks like Alex Left The light On and Bathtub showcase the band’s versatility and impressive strings duo.
It’s not often that a bass guitar is the star of the show, but Kill Bell makes a particularly good argument for why more bassists should be turned up, with the core of that persuasion coming in the album’s final track, ‘I Don’t Think I Have What You Want’.
At some point in the night, as I stood off the side of the crowd to jot something down (probably that Kill Bell’s drummer occasionally looked like he was going to eat someone as he played), I noticed someone seemingly paying little attention to the band, focussing more on their small drawings in front of them – turns out this was the band’s album artist, Charlie A. Paino. She was doing reactionary sketches to the songs on stage, which is something you’d only find at a punk gig in Brunswick. She’s the mind behind the cover art and t-shirts that you can find on Kill Bell’s Bandcamp, and you can find more of her art on Instagram at @picapsso.
Kill Bell’s first album is available on Spotify and Bandcamp, so head on over for a 25-minute punk masterclass!
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