Live Review

June of 44 / A Broken Sail / Kodiak Empire @ The Brightside

Weeknight shows, particularly those falling late in the week, can be a frustrating, tiring affair. Occasionally though, a band or artist comes along that makes the lack of sleep worthwhile, June of 44 are one such band. Despite playing to a criminally small, but highly appreciative crowd, the band put on a hell of a show. Joining the band on support were Brisbane’s Kodiak Empire and Sydney’s A Broken Sail.

Kodiak Empire appear to be generating some momentum around Brisbane, securing support slots for artists such as Mono and We Lost the Sea. Producing a pop-prog of sorts that falls somewhere between Incubus and Thirty Seconds to Mars, they seemed slightly out of place on the bill. Regardless, the group gave their all during their thirty-minute time slot, performing to the handful of people that showed up early enough to catch both supports.

A Broken Sail’s Bandcamp page describes the group as; “No words, no voice. Tempos crawling, tube driven tones and a slow focus.” Live, the group more than live up to this mission statement, whilst managing to sound much bigger and more dynamic than on record. A Broken Sail’s ambient post-rock is easy to get lost in, particularly at a live volume when intricacies not heard on the album are more apparent. Their glacial pace proving a perfect forerunner, and juxtaposition, to the June of 44’s energy and intensity.

June of 44 features a who’s who of nineties post-hardcore and math rock heavyweights, including former members of, among others, Hoover, Rodan, Lungfish, The Shipping News and Codeine. Their last Australian tour was in 1999, in support of the album Anahata, with the group breaking up shortly after.

Comprising Jeff Mueller on guitar and vocals, Sean Meadows, also guitar and vocals, Fred Erskine on bass and Doug Scharin on drums, June of 44 reconvened in 2018 for some short American tours and have been touring sporadically since. Revisionist: Adaptations & Future Histories in the Time of Love and Survival, an album of re-recorded and remixed songs came out in 2020. Future releases containing new music are highly anticipated but not confirmed.

Performing for a little over an hour and half, the band were tight, delivering an ardent performance despite the thirty-five-degree Brisbane heat and the Brightside’s struggling air conditioner. Serious about their music, there was minimal talk between songs. Across the thirteen song setlist, the group ensured no major entry in their back-catalogue was ignored, with the bulk of the set consisting of songs from their first and last studio albums.

Opening with Does Your Heart Beat Slower? off 1998’s Four Great Points the band upped the ante with each song. Building to the one-two punch of Anisette, the only track from sophomore album Tropics and Meridians, and a particularly intense Have a Safe Trip Dear, from 1995’s Engine Takes to Water, the latter providing one of the show’s highlights.

Suntiki, the one unreleased, and assumedly new song, bolsters hopes that new June of 44 material may soon be forthcoming. Sounding obviously different due to its loose, improvised feel, Suntiki stuck out like a sore thumb compared to the tautness of the rest of the set. An obvious standout and highpoint of the night, if not just for its unfamiliarity, but as evidence that the band are once again writing and performing new material.

After finishing the set with Escape of a Levitational Trapeze Artist, the group returned for a brief encore. Submitting to the audience’s request they delivered an urgent rendition of Sharks and Sailors, from their 1996 EP Anatomy of Sharks, before ending the night with Engine Takes to Water’s closing track, Sink is Busted.

An entire generation has come of age since June of 44's previous tour and subsequent breakup. Given the lack of any truly new studio material, an Australian tour was unexpected to say the least. Despite performing to a shockingly small crowd, the group were in fine form, delivering an intense and enthusiastic performance, featuring tracks from across their entire discography. Those in the audience, most witnessing the band for the first time and appreciating they are unlikely to return, revelled in the opportunity to see such an iconic and influential group, still performing at the peak of their power.

- Nick Stephan.


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