Electric. Fire. Wild. These three words epitomise WAAX’s sold out show at Jive. Here from Brisbane to promote their debut album Big Grief which will be released on August 23, the quintet stormed the stage and demanded the attention of diehard Adelaide fans. Prior to arriving at Jive, I thought of a fellow fan’s story about acquiring his ticket to the August 10 gig. He said he didn’t “want the ticket, he needed the ticket.” Being a WAAX enthusiast is a way of life and this was evident on this wintery night, as I witnessed the keen faces and ecstatic energy slowly filling the room like distant thunder.
WAAX’s frontwoman, the humble Maz aka Marie DeVita, walked around with her bandmates chatting with people as she passed them. This friendly energy made the bands music even more accessible and enjoyable, while their lyrics and songs explore contemporary social and political issues, reaching out to fans of all ages and backgrounds.
With Maz living in Brisbane but born in Adelaide, even reminding her fans Adelaide’s “a beautiful place”; it only makes sense that the two support acts were Brisbane’s indie rock trio Sweater Curse and Adelaide rock duo Towns. Towns was disorientating in the most wonderful of ways. “We are the darkness”, were Aston’s first words as he tested the mics competency. I felt like I was switching from one of the best comedic shows to bopping to Aston and Dan’s catchy indie rock tunes. Front man Aston played so hard that his capo disappeared onto side stage. After a crowd member found it for him, he proclaimed that he’s “gonna keep playing because of you now”; pointing to her with gratitude before him and Dan went straight into their songs Sun and the 2018 debut single I Don’t Mind.
Towns enthusiasm and dedication to each song was obvious as they played a melody of iconic TV show theme songs including ones from That 70’s Show, Friends and Daria. The guys laughed with the audience, imitated the crowds weird cheering noises and discussed how they caught each other’s colds although they “never kissed”. Good vibes continued with Brisbane’s Sweater Curse, as influences of 1990’s melodies and band style were evident. Frontwoman Monica sang Take Some Time and some of the bands new songs, before reminding the crowd of the main act WAAX up after them.
Then, red lights filtered through Jive. The crowd’s tension was obvious. Everyone tightened towards the stage in a slow ascending movement, squeezing into every small space to get a glimpse of WAAX. The guys; Ewan, James, Griff and Tom, pick up their instruments and the addictive and repetitive beat and strumming of FU begins. Maz skips onto the stage wearing her wild leopard tee, and an otherworldly wave of emotion and people flow straight towards the speakers, literally spreading around the sound. After the first song, Maz reminded the crowd to “have fun but stay safe and look after each other. And let me know if you need help…” Maz doesn’t joke around and her vocals don’t either. She constantly changed with her wild eyes and kept us on our toes, showing her dynamic talent during the performances of History and No Apology, new tracks from the debut album. Maz fleetingly contrasted her sound, starting gentle and vulnerable then erupting into an electrifying vocal powerhouse, dominating the stage.
Next up, were the explosive tracks from their 2017’s Wild and Weak EP, I For An Eye, Same Same and Wild &Weak. Same Same had the crowd singing along with Maz as she held the mic out to the audience as everyone sang in unison; “I pace, I backtrack, until I walk the same path.” The emotional depth, self-reflectiveness and universally understandable lyrics present in every track allow us to connect with the band and relate our experiences to theirs. Then fittingly, WAAX covered Standing in the Way of Control as a dedication to “the great Beth Ditto’s band ‘Gossip’”, who formed in 1999, continuing with the night’s theme of iconic 1990’s tracks.
Maz’s softly spoken and sweet demeanour echoed both on and off stage, evident when witnessing multiple intimate moments with fans as the band shared their songs with them. Halfway through the night she smiled and acknowledged her bandmates then gently sat on Tom’s Ludwig drum set, leaning her Converse shoes and body towards the audience as she looked around, introducing the next song. Maz created a magnificent shadow as she prowled like a cat around the stage on her knees, clapping along with us. She thrashed her mic stand about, rocking to the band’s new hit single I Am.
From the beginning, lines were blurred between the stage and audience, especially when the ferocious Maz grabbed the hands of fans and jumped into the crowd for the final song. WAAX ended the night with the 2018 single Labrador, chanting along with the crowd, “You were right, you were right, you were right all along, so I’ll pack my shit up and go.”
After set lists were torn off stage by frenzied fans and a rogue crowd surfer jumped into the insane mosh pit, the band left the stage without an encore and left us wanting more. WAAX’s demanding presence was overwhelming and their energy vibrated through Jive as fans continued to hang out, buy merch and chat to the band. WAAX embody the ultimate balance between raw emotional lyrics and energy and are a wild force that will continue to rise. They are performing next at The Triffid in their hometown of Brisbane on August 15th.
Live Review By Zara Zampaglione