Entry to Cherry Bar was down ACDC Lane, off Flinders Lane. A neon cherry glowing in a doorway of an otherwise dark alleyway felt like we should have needed a secret word instead of a ticket to get into the sold out launch for Thornhill‘s Butterfly EP.
Once inside, the walls of Cherry Bar were adorned with draped fabric, or are exposed brick. Scrawled messages from previous visitors cover the bar and bathroom walls. The vibe is cosy and accepting and I relax on the couch with a pint of Young Henrys, while a disco ball scatters her light over the growing audience.
The night starts with Incentives, who most recently released “Flicker”. They’re solid and punchy, which is a touch intense in this space, but we’re warming up along with them. Wild and full, they share their music with us; a crowd that’s seeming not yet fully receptive. Incentives’ vocalist Kyle Adams confesses it’s their first gig in a year and the crowd seems to soften. The Melbourne band’s effort, sick breakdowns, and hard hitting sound becomes more enjoyable as the set progresses and it’s easier to lean into the warm and flowing soundscapes, ridiculously skilled drumming, and empassioned vocals. The set leaves me with the impression of Incentives being a great band, and wanting more of their music. [Here’s more of the band via Spotify]
Mirrors are on next, and are off to a strong start with “F.Y.A.” (from their Fools Paradise EP). The four piece feel solid and together, with strobe lights and fog lighting adding to the scene being crafted, with Patrick Goodman’s vocals seeming determined to reach us all. They share their latest single “Circus” and further Fools Paradise tracks. Zen bassist Jake Mackin seems completely at home on stage, soaking up the experience. Mirrors make it look easy and the crowd are loving it, with mini shove matches/moshing going on while intriguing soundscapes, bendy breakdowns, and fierce and passionate vocals craft a very solid set. [Listen to Mirrors]
If you remember, I only caught “New Tradition” from Adelaide’s Sleep Talk at Invasion Fest, so I was really keen to get to see a full set from the guys. I swear we all held our breath once the vocals started, there was just something about them that was instantly drawing. Clearly having a good time on stage and feeling really connected with their fellow band members, Sleep Talk nail their full spectrum of sound. Their set included gorgeous melodic moments and emotive clean vocals, and a breathtaking hugeness of sound with multiple layers combining in a way that had our attention piqued the entire time. Both warm and fierce, Sleep Talk’s set made me want to listen to more music from this band, who incidentally seemed like a bunch of really chilled guys. As well as a swelling anthemic sound and impressive riffs, the mic grabs and hectic appreciation of the band made for an awesome set. Sleep Talk are undeniably great live. [Sleep Talk on Spotify]
Hype is high while we wait for Thornhill and the band sets up on stage. I spot Thornhill’s vocalist Jacob Charlton standing side stage and he looks really nervous. The crowd starts chanting how horny we are for Thorny. It’s pretty clear why this sold out, with this palpable love we all have for Butterfly and this band, and friends, family, and fans are all waiting to hear that majesty live. Hot now and in close sweaty quarters at Cherry Bar, we are ready for this.
Seconds in to the set and it’s already so good and the crowd bounces in unison in the darkened space. My curiosity as to whether the impressive Butterfly vocals could be pulled off in a live setting is satisfied: They can and they are! While backed by audience participation, those gorgeous cleans are firmly present in this high vibing set. Thornhill are solid and together, in captivating brilliance, and we’re all fully into this. The tracks are just as immersive live as recorded, and we sing along with “Reptile”. We’re all in love and Thornhill are incredible.
The set was drawing and engaging from beginning to end. The high energy never dropped, even when soaking up “Joy”. We were all in and backing this band. A circle pit somehow formed in this squishy space, and the moshing for “Lavender” was wild. Musically Thornhill made it seem so easy and the set felt smooth and flowing.
We demanded an encore and the band came back with “Outcast” (?), and perhaps an air of relaxed celebration as to what they’d pulled off tonight. A wall of death and a shoey (below) topped off the last song of the night, and it couldn’t have been a better set to celebrate Butterfly and where Thornhill are at.
In talking with Northlane‘s Marcus Bridge after the set, we agreed how great Thornhill were, with Marcus adding “…and they’ll only get better”, which is pretty mind-blowing to think about.
Butterfly is a must-listen! We also went deeper into the tracks of the EP in a recent interview with Thornhill, which you can check out HERE.
All photos by Liam Davidson.