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Fully Charged: Hockey Dad in Bristol

Nearing the end of their EU/UK tour, the Aussie garage-rockers unleash the energy at The Fleece

I often associate listening to Hockey Dad with being outside on a hot summer’s day, possibly with the barbecue on, and getting lost in the music. A grey, drizzly evening in Bristol at the end of April couldn’t be more different from that. Who cares though, I thought, let’s get in the room and have a great time. And a great time was had.

This started from the moment I walked into The Fleece as the sounds of support band dust were already filtering through the crowd. One of my main takeaways from the night was that I wish I’d got there ten minutes earlier to catch their whole set because they were amazing. I heard a highly skilled band smashing out some incredible riffs and plenty of new songs to add to my playlists. If you like rock music of any kind, give dust a listen – their debut EP ‘Et cetera, etc.’ came out last month and Joy (Guilt) is a stand-out track.

After a forty-minute interlude in which I’d found myself right on the barrier opposite the drum kit, it was time for the main event. With the one-two punch of In This State and Germaphobe from their (currently) most recent album Brain Candy, Hockey Dad had the crowd exactly where they wanted them, full of energy and excitement for the rest of the night. Then came I Need a Woman, sung by the crowd back to Zach Stephenson (vocals/guitar) with immense volume and passion and that’s the moment I knew this would be a memorable night.

Getting to be in front of drummer Billy Fleming for the night was a pleasure, as I don’t think I’ve seen a drummer have so much fun on stage for a long time as he flew around the kit on the majority of tunes. The climax of Itch was something to behold. He also takes on the role of talking to the crowd when everyone gets the chance to have a breather, which was done well.

The last three songs of the main set were pure chaos in the middle of the crowd as I Missed Out, Seaweed and my personal favourite Join the Club were fired up by the band. Bassist Steve Bourke decided he’d wear a pair of sunglasses chucked from the crowd which somehow made the whole thing even cooler than it already was. This set of three was absolutely electric.

Although not on the setlist (yes, I got the setlist) the band returned for an encore with the members of dust as well. The first song was a cover of Cut Your Hair by Pavement with an extremely easy chorus that everyone could get involved with. I got the impression the Birra Morrettis that had been consumed throughout the night were starting to take effect as the singer from dust went for a stage dive and the band were demanding that a saxophone be brought on stage for their final song.

This final song was what the night had been building to. Most pauses were met with cries of “SWEET RELEAAAASE!” and Sweet Release is what they eventually got – a perfect ending to the evening. Fleming was on vocal duties for this song and delivered a delightfully chaotic performance as frontman as he danced around the stage with his shirt heavy with sweat. Any remaining beer was sprayed across the crowd, both from within it and from the band, With that the music was over, but there was still that electric post-gig buzz emitted from every person inside The Fleece. In case you couldn’t tell already, I had a fantastic time and would recommend watching Hockey Dad (and dust) when your next opportunity arises. I even bought merch, and it’s a long time since I’ve done that!

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