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BEING THERE: Hockey Dad @ Everybody Hits

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Photo by DYLAN LONG

Australian rock bands are killing it right now. The Australian rock scene is chock full of bands that are sick as hell and on the come-up, and I will not hold back my enthusiasm. Eclectic jangle rockers Dune Rats just wrapped up touring as main support for the well-established surf-rock group Wavves in the UK. The joyful garage rock trio Skegss are riding a gnarly wave of sold-out shows in pretty much all major cities across Straya, with solid support from local bands Dumb Punts & Los Scallywags . Which leads us to one of the biggest acts currently on the rise from down under: Hockey Dad. The duo hailing from good ol’ Windang, Australia, has embarked on a sizeable North American tour, making a stop at Everybody Hits, Philly’s one and only batting cage by day, DIY musical space by night.

California dudes Mt. Eddy kicked things off in the dimly lit room with some fine tunes to get the crowd stirring. The christmas lights hanging in the corner of the room designated for the bands illuminated the five young musicians’ faces, as the already healthy amount of equally young concertgoers bopped around. The crowd was mostly teenagers and young adults, all hitting away at their Juuls like it’s their job and chatting each other up in between tuning breaks. Up next came Philly natives Cold Fronts, a group of guys whom I’ve seen before and quickly learned don’t come to disappoint. They cranked out tunes from old records and their most recent release, Fantasy Du Jour, while frontman Craig Almquist frequently jumped into the crowd to douse himself in beer and give the kids a turn to sing. Their stage setup came with a bright magenta neon sign reading out the album title in cursive, serving as a nice touch to complement their established vintage sound.

After killing the main venue lighting leaving the dangling Christmas lights as the only source of light, Hockey Dad walked down from the green room to give the kids what they came for. The ultra-dim lighting made it a great challenge for me as a photographer, but as a guy there to see the show, it made for the perfect atmosphere. The duo was recently named the top-played band on Australia’s famous Triple J radio so far in 2018, so it was safe to say I had high expectations of them. They ripped through melodic, high-energy songs like “I Wanna Be Everybody,” “Seaweed” and “Babes,” giving off a surprisingly full sound for just a guitarist/vocalist and drummer. Billy Fleming’s bright blond, definition-of-surfer-hair flew around in every which direction from behind the kit as he and frontman Zach Stephenson rocked along until close to midnight. Taking advantage of the intimate DIY setting, they invited both the opening bands to come on stage for their remaining songs, which quickly turned into one big party with the crowd and artists all jumping around together, sharing laughs and sweat. Ending with the ripper “Homely Feeling” and encoring with the much softer, sweeter balad “Be With Me,” Hockey Dad proved themselves as one of the finer Aussie up-and-comers, and that power doesn’t always come in numbers. – DYLAN LONG

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