Oh Juanita Stein, I sincerely doubt it's possible for anybody to watch you perform without developing a bit of a crush. Male or female, gay or straight, I think it'd be damn near fuckin' impossible for anybody to resist the charm of your stage presence. And the fact that the noise you and your band make is so damn satisfying, both live and on CD, just sweetens the deal.
Howling Bells are one of my favourite new discoveries of 2009. Until the March release of their sophomore album, Radio Wars, I didn't have any idea they even existed, but after devouring everything that album had to offer, I quickly looked into their self-titled debut.
Despite a noticeable, albeit slight, variation in their musical style between their two albums, the one thing that has remained consistent is the delicate balance they've maintained between ethereality and grunginess. The influence of shoegazers like My Bloody Valentine can't be denied, but we're still left with a package that's held together nicely by Juanita Stein's haunting vocals.
Perhaps the best part of this gig, held at Sydney's Gaelic Club last Friday night, was that the sound fans had come to love from the albums translated to perfectly to the live act. It's always disheartening when a band's live show pales in comparison to its recorded efforts, but thankfully Howling Bells have their sound down pat.
Again, I feel like I need to mention a delicate balance inherent to Howling Bell's sound, which in turn is present in their stage act. Although most of their songs have something of a brooding feel, it never strays into the realm of sounding downtrodden, and quite often the energy ramps up big time. The same can be said for everybody in the band, whose performances exuded energy from beginning to end, even during some of the more somber musical moments.
Also worth noting is the obvious chemistry between everybody in the band, reflected in the extent of their onstage interaction during the show. It's nice when you can plainly tell that a band not only loves what they're doing, but also who they're doing it with.
All in all, an excellent night and an excellent show from an increasingly excellent band.
Photos coming soon. That is, as soon as Santa leaves me a new laptop in exchange for the wad of cash I'll be leaving out for him instead of milk and cookies. Old laptop shat itself. Old laptop wouldn't turn back on. Old laptop dead :( Currently writing on my housemate's computer, chewing into his time that would otherwise be spent playing Call of Duty.