After gripped anticipation having steadily built over the last 12 months, Brisbane based emotive indie band The Medics held the exclusive launch of their astonishing debut record “Foundations” on a cold Tuesday night in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley. The last two years have bought burgeoning success for the Cairns four piece, garnering stand out reviews of their live shows and almost frenzied predictions to produce an album that encompasses their driven and swollen sound, a sound quite uncharacteristically difficult to label. Hosted at Black Bear Lodge, the décor draws inspiration of intimate bars in Portland Oregon, lush tones of timber and brick like a husky woodland cabin, hot like a roaring fireplace was lit and spread warmth though the venue. It may be cold outside, but the flushed cheeks and sparkly eyes of the crowd suggest that it may be also anticipation that keeps them fervent and glowing. The acclaimed hype is evident as tonight’s show is sold out, and rather than just my humble opinion, I thought I’d ask some of the lucky few who managed to get their hot little paws on tickets for tonight’s thrilling show.
Jase and Mindy stand out in the street, smoking menthol Kool's and generally look like the most arrestingly beautiful couple you’ve ever seen. Huddled together to keep warm, I interrupt them.
Tell me, what did you think of the show?
Big grins burst on their faces, wide-eyed like a deer in headlights. “We’ve been really excited to see them; it’s kind of refreshing to hear a different, elegant sound.”
What do you mean?
They say they can’t “compare” The Medics to anything other band, they don’t sound like “anyone else” which is in itself a credit to accomplish. Mindy says her favourite song is “Deadman”. Describing it as “frightening” and “haunting”, she looks a little unsettled at recalling it, her furrowed brows crease deep like she remembers an uneasy fear.
“My favourite song is ‘Joseph’; I like how it builds…” says Jase. “I haven’t stopped playing their album since Friday…”
“And they didn’t lose energy through the entire set…” Adds Mindy, “That song is so beautiful, the chorus consumes you. They seem shy but it’s amazing to get this bold, direct wall of sound. Melancholy, and then really direct? I love them; this is our 3rd time seeing them.”
“4th, I think.” Jase frowns.
Mindy smiles. “Whatever, they are awesome.”
Searching for new fans, I start chatting to a young kid, about 19. He came with his brother, who he says “loves ‘em” but he hadn’t really heard much of them, other than songs on Triple J when “Foundations” was the feature album two weeks ago. He received tickets for his birthday and was “absolutely blown away”. He said the vocals were “awesome” and guarantee’s he’ll steal his “bro’s copy” of the album and “probably get bashed”. “Best birthday present evveeerrrrrr!” he cackles like a hyena, slamming beer down his throat quickly in typical teenage devil-may-care attitude before rushing off back to the bar.
My friend Jess comes bounding towards me, flush cheeks from exuded energy.
“Where have you been, did you see the end?!” Jess describes further, saying “they all just lost it”, and that their set was “primal, unpredictable.” She goes on to recall the song ‘Griffin’ as “layered”, “balanced” and “gravelly”, shifting her feet with excitement as she stumbles for words. “I felt empty when they finished, like I had no energy left, you know? I mean, I didn’t jump around and dance through the set because I felt like they sucked all my emotions from me”. She says she felt “disconnected” when they finished. She pauses. “I remember feeling that way when I saw Tool. Like something was ripped out of me and I was hypnotised.”
What was a stand out song for you?
“‘Rust’” she says immediately, and starts quoting lyrics. “Walking past lost souls, walking past myself, why do we walk, oblivious to our nature, why do we fight, our death may come.” She says she felt “crushed” at how “soft and dark the lyrics are”. Their music “builds”, gaining tempo from the second verse to the colossal climax. The opulently driven “Joseph” was a stand out for her. “Like a hurricane around me” she says. The last time I saw Jess’s face light up like that was when she scored Radiohead tickets. She looks stunned and almost charmingly catatonic, blissful in how the music has wrapped around her, rendering her slightly dumbfounded.
I stand outside the venue, smoking and listening to the people spilling out onto the street. Everyone is bright and glazed over, and I imagine their experience is similar to waves crashing over your head, drowning out the white noise of day-to-day frivolities to be completely stamped with emotive musical expression. Good music, hell, even great music doesn’t always do that. The new album and the night’s celebrations are an overwhelming success for The Medics. Kahl Wallace’s lead vocals, thin like smoke and cool as frost, cut through darkness, delicate and intense. Their melodies are husky like a whisper, coming across unhindered and add distinctive sensitivity to the dark instrumentals. Intricately layered and balanced through light and shade, their debut album “Foundations” offers delay-drenched guitars, sky-soaring crescendos and drumming that never overpowers but reveals itself to be technically agile and captivatingly cohesive. The Medics manifest an exceptional grasp on dynamic arrangements, recalling the beautiful yet intense nature of Sigur Ros strengthened with the luscious frenetic breaks of The Mars Volta. Pitch perfect, fluid and throughout the set were able to switch from passionate and frantic, to caressing and somewhat vulnerable. Mastering the art of the slow build and the soft-loud-soft burst, The Medics have showcased a gripping, visceral and utterly consuming form of musical expression that in the harsh light of unforced expectations will drive them to the high accomplishment of astounding success.