The weather is finally warming up, daylight savings has started and it’s Friday. What better way to spend a Friday than seeing local, Australian talent spread their wings and entertain a crowd. That’s exactly what was happening at Max Watts in Melbourne except this Aussie band wasn’t exactly local and they were no longer just spreading their wings but giving an intimate close up before heading overseas.

It’s been a very busy week for Canberra’s Hands Like Houses. Having their single ‘Monsters’ of their latest album -Anon. featuring on the WWE pay-per-view Super Showdown to an international audience at the MCG only a week before this show and having -Anon. drop the morning of the show to the world, it would have been a rollercoaster the whole time. Especially seeing as this small tour was a secret show tour to fans to celebrate said album launch. Hands Like Houses are moving up in the music world and fast.

After having the hari-krishna’s regal us with unwanted, bleeding ear “music” (if you could call it that), the masses trickled inside Max Watts. The venue was humid, the air was thick and everyone was starting to get pumped for the night ahead. Sadly, it would be a full hour of waiting around, drinking and chatting before the support even took to the stage.

Kicking off the night, after the long wait, was Byron Bay’s own PLTS (pronounced Pilots). Playing to an almost packed out venue, this was a great way to show what that one hour inbetween doors and support can accomplish. Getting a decent 40 minute set, the vocals of Kit Bray was easy on the ears and the drumming of Harry Deacon and guitar work of Byron Carney really matched the tone Bray was giving yet it was their touring bassist that really brought rhe energy. Constantly on the move and looking like he belongs in a 90’s grunge band, the unknown bassist definitely took the show. As great as PLTS sound, the indie-rock style didn’t really seem to meld into what Hands Like Houses were going to put on. Overall, PLTS did a great job getting the crowd ready for the main act of the night but just didn’t seem heavy enough.

With people still piling into the already crowded venue, it was evident to see it was well and truly sold out. For a “secret” album launch show, it wasn’t exactly secret. Everyone around was ready to get the show started and hear some fan favourite Hands Like Houses tunes and get a live premiere to some of their latest tracks.

Coming on stage to a floor quaking roar from the crowd, Hands Like Houses jumped straight into ‘New Romantics’ much to the pleasure of the crowd. Vocalist Trenton Woodley was bursting at the seams with energy along with bassist Joel Tyrell. This continued into their hit single from Dissonants ‘Colourblind’ which had the mosh pit go absolutely insane. We were only 2 songs in and this was already the reaction to what was on offer. We were in for it.

Woodley, Tyrell, the guitarists Matt “Coops” Cooper and Alexander Pearaon along with drummer Matt Parkitny were absolutely in sync the whole set. They had the crowd in the palm of their hands and had more control over everyone than some of the large international acts. Being up this close and person to one of Australia’s fastest up-and-coming acts will definitely be a rare opportunity from now on.

The first song to be premiered on the night was ‘Tilt’. Having been released via youtube and spotify earlier, many fans already know the lyrics and got straight into it. Usually people complain about hearing the new stuff at shows but being the album launch day and album launch show, everyone was expecting it and wanting it. Afterall, how many times in your life are you going to hear one of your favourite bands play their album for you to hear live first before the rest of the world?

Having only an hour set, it was evident that the band was going to interchange new songs with old songs inbetween as right after ‘Tilt’, they went back a few years and busted out ‘Shapeshifters’. Having the mixture was definitely the best idea as the grip on everyone got tighter. Woodley could tell everyone to jump and the crowd would straight away. This is how you grow as an Australian band.

The second premiere was ‘Sick’. One of the only tracks to premiere without a single release before the album launch. As such it wasn’t as highly received by the crowd but still one that was loved. Definitely one that is incredible live. This was quickly followed up by ‘Overthinking’. The single from -Anon. Woodley did point out that this is also a learning experience as to where to place the new tracks in their upcoming setlists.

Also a quick shout out to the audio engineer who hooked up the drum kit. That was sounding incredible.

After having everyone go crazy over ‘I Am’, they announced to expect a tour announcement very soon that will be “a little bit bigger, a little bit louder and a little bit sooner” as quoted by Woodley.

The problem with one hour sets is that they end just as quick as they started. They surprised with the premiere of the quirky ‘Bad Dream’ before finishing up with with their biggest single to date. The, now internationally known, ‘Monster’. Of course, however, there is always an encore and for Hands Like Houses fans, that comes in the form of the much loved fan favourite ‘Drift’.

With an upcoming tour to be announced now, if you have yet to catch Hands Like Houses, the time is now. You will not be disappointed.

Summary: a not-so-secret album launch of a quickly up-and-coming Australian band.