AN EXCLUSIVE PRESSING GOES A LONG WAY. Despite the umpteen variants of Yard Act's formidable debut album, The Overload, Waxx Lyrical still managed to secure one especially for Australia. You'll go a long way before you encounter a band more grateful. For their maiden voyage Down Under thanks to Laneway, the lads hit the ground running with a full promo schedule and a couple of headline on top of the full national festival run. Still, they pushed through intense exhaustion, heavy jet lag and the hottest Brisbane day in 13 years to visit us at our new home inside Catalog Music, just because we supported the band by pressing their album in Australia. One of the most affable and grateful cats in the business, frontman James Smith not only rubbed shoulders with some adoring supporters, he bloody guestlisted the lot of them for their set at Laneway the next day. Ironically, we'd done ourselves a disservice by having the lads sign the records earlier in the year before they sent them to us. Not to worry though, Smith still managed to kick it comfortably with the people and signed random objects. And, he managed to get me personally excited by giving me a secret squirrel rundown of what to expect on album number two.
As for Yard Act's set at Laneway the following day, it was beyond everything we expected from the band and, objectively, alongside Fontaines D.C., stole the show for the entire day. Smith abandoned his trademark trench coat, for a look we want to think he created just for us in Australia. The set itself is a remarkable testament to the band and the music they've made so far. Smith works incredibly hard and hasn't made his job easy - each and every song is a wordy mini-masterpiece, rife with character stories, political stances and comical, opinionated pieces offering a glance into the mind of the man.
The title track masterfully opens the show and sets intent, pre-album single 'Dark Days' follows and it is one of the most fist-pumping and anthemic. From there, they take in a highlight heavy run of songs from The Overload, like 'Dead Horse', 'Land Of The Blind' and 'Payday', not to mention an Eddy Current Suppression Ring cover of 'Which Way To Go'. Alongside Smith on stage left, guitarist Sam Shijpstone appears to put his performance ahead of his own well-being, sweating buckets and giving it everything apparently bravely tackling the Brisbane heat, something they verbally expressed concern for before landing in town. Our Australian collective sense of humour appears to align with the band's and Smith, well in his element by this stage, laps it up. One feels like the man needs to come down here and soak up some Aussie sun and personalities during his next writing sojourn.
The penultimate '100% Endurance' is the highlight, revealing another side to the band that surely can shake the stick from the stuffiest of critics. They end with their very first single, 'The Trapper's Pelts', seemingly nodding to the early adopters of the band. Judging by the roars it received, there appears to be many in attendance today. It's a short, damn sweet set from one of Britain's finest and a 360 degree moment for us, a justification of the investment made to press their album for the Australian vinyl lovers. Hopefully we'll see Yard Act touring down here more often, one thinks they could even follow up with a second encore tour almost right away. But alas, there are inevitably second albums to finish and families and partners to appease. We're patient.