Harlequin League, The Wednesday Society, The Preytells, @ Amplifier Bar, Perth (23/11/2007)

They won this year’s Next Big Thing competition, and considering they haven’t even been gigging for a whole year,”the next big thing” is a pretty good way to describe them. They’ve recently supported The Cops and Expatriate at the amplifier, but tonight Harlequin League were headliners, launching their debut single Hole in the Heart.

Harlequin League have been quick to get themselves playing over in Melbourne this year, and that’s where Learn the Splits fit in. The Melbourne duo is doing something different with only drums and an acoustic guitar, and so far seem to be pulling it off. The energy and conviction of this performance is reminiscent of what was considered –  “emo’ five years ago, before the word became synonymous for pop punk or hardcore (depending on your school of thought). The conviction in frontman Ryan Wheatley ’s voice was backed up by the power of his acoustic guitar, but it’s the addition of the drums that gave this performance real direction. Their gutsy acoustic rock caught the early crowd’s attention, and certainly made for a hard act to follow.

It seems the shoes were too big to fill as The Preytells took the stage next. While The Preytells write reasonable pop songs, they always fall short of doing something interesting with them. There were no obvious flaws in tonight’s set, but there weren’t any highlights either, as seems to be the trend in their live shows.

Which left us with the final support for the evening, The Wednesday Society. With some band members busy with side project Sugar Army, it’s not surprising that The Wednesday Society haven’t been playing many shows lately. And the results were evident in tonight’s set. While their post-punk edge usually results in a tight performance, tonight’s set was lacking both the edge and the tightness, resulting in a messy, predictable set. With the band otherwise occupied with side projects, The Wednesday Society have lost the edge and excitement that once made them a great band.

Preluding their first song with their wall of noise intro, Harlequin League wasted no time in getting to the point; their new single was first on the setlist. This was followed by the catchy rhythm sections of (Jungle) Bones with Sebastian Astone (guitar) swapping his guitar for some drumsticks to help Miles Lisman (drums) with the percussion. As James Rogers (bass, vocals) lead the crowd through the first half of the set somewhat half-heartedly, it was the latter half that proved what Harlequin League are truly capable of. After debuting a new track, the crowd was treated to Charlie’s Town, a song that has been missing from Harlequin League’s most recent shows. Throughout their set it can’t be denied that these guys are brilliant musicians, Charlie’s Town proves that they can also write brilliant pop songs. The point was hammered home when followed by Syndrome Expatri, another infectious tune you can’t help but dance to. As they come to the end of the set you know the night itself is far from over, with the boys from Learn The Splits joining the band for an extended jam during What the City Wants and taking the energy levels up another notch entirely. Harlequin League follow the frantic pace through to the last chord, with Benjamin Pooley ’s keyboard thrown to the floor as the band stumbles off into the night.