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HORROR-SHOW On Closer Listen


Horrorshow play Settlers Tavern, Margaret River, on Wednesday, April 2, and The Bakery on Friday, April 4. MATTHEW TOMICH reports.

Horrorshow may seem like unlikely candidates for an acoustic set. At first listen, the Sydney duo’s sound is steeped in the fundamental hip hop tropes of cut and paste beats, rapid-fire rhymes and the occasional synth and brass sample.

But on closer listen, there’s sophistication and nuance in the deft lyricism of Nick Bryant-Smith and the multi-layered songwriting of Horrorshow’s producer Adit Gauchan that makes a stripped-down and intimate acoustic tour a natural fit.

“We’ve actually been doing these sorts of shows since way back when we first started writing together,” says Bryant-Smith, otherwise known as MC Solo, from the back of a tour van headed from the Sunshine Coast to Brisbane. “But back then, we were doing them, on a much smaller scale, which was basically just to our mates at a local pub or something. But we’ve always had a network of really talented musician friends around us so we’ve always hung out and jammed with them and this tour is an extension of that whole format. I guess we’ve sort of had this up our sleeve for many years but it’s cool to finally take it out on the road and show it off to people.”

It’s not the first time Horrorshow have brought the acoustic format to a large audience, either – in 2011, the group performed an unplugged set at The Basement in Sydney. The next year, they brought that show to The Spiegeltent at the Brisbane Festival, which was recorded and released for free on Bandcamp. And last year, Horrorshow performed a cover of Lou Reed’s Walk On The Wild Side mixed with A Tribe Called Quest’s Can I Kick It? for the triple j series. Like A Version, a song that’s made its way into most of their sets on this tour so far.

For Bryant-Smith, these shows – billed as the Listen Close tour – give he and Gauchan a sort of flexibility with their performance that’s harder to achieve when you’re working with backing tracks and pre-programming.

“There’s definitely room to be a bit more spontaneous or change shit up when you don’t have songs all joined together in a Serato crate,” he says. “When it’s all live you’re able to turn around to the band and say we’ll do this instead or we’ll change the order of this or speed up or slow down or whatever. There’s definitely a bit more room for spontaneity and we’ve been trying to just roll with that and embrace it and see what happens in that live moment when we’re all up there.

The nationwide jaunt finishes up in early April, after which Horrorshow will reunite with fellow Sydneysiders Spit Syndicate, Jackie Onassis and Joyride as the collective One Day to tour with Groovin The Moo. Beyond that, Bryant-Smith says he’s keen to return to the studio and commence work on album number four.
“I don’t think we’ll get it out this year. That would be awesome. That would be fucking awesome. I’d love that. But history tells me it usually takes a bit longer than that, though it’s definitely not going to be four years between albums like it was with our last one. So we want to come back with some new music as soon as we can but there’s just so much stuff going on, it’s hard to get back in the studio. So we can keep our fingers crossed for this year, but just as soon as possible is our plan.

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