Shihad. Photo by Rachael Barrett

High Tension/Cairo Knife Fight

Mojos Bar Fremantle

Friday, October 31, 2014

It’s always going to be a good night when any international band plays at Mojos Bar in Freo for the sheer fact it’s small, intimate and loud. But for a Shihad gig, a band who sport a level of support like it’s their homegrown local, you knew the walls were about to get sweaty.

Cairo Knife Fight started the night, a two-piece alternative rock band from New Zealand. They had early support from a number of ex-pat Kiwis in the crowd.

What they lack in personnel they make up for imagination, cleverly looping bass, drums and guitar tracks live to solidify the empathetic wall of sound that had me thinking of a stripped-back Muse with enough originality and enthusiasm to get the night started off perfectly.

At the start of High Tension the swelling crowd brewed to see in the flesh the one and only Karina Utomo and how she gets those outrageously brutal, beautiful and powerful vocals out of her petite frame. Dressed appropriately for Halloween as something like a demonic Ying Yang, Utomo and band got straight down to business firing through tracks from their debut album, Death Beat. High Tension, rich in Australian punk rock culture and boasting members from The Nation Blue and Utomo’s Young And Restless, were exciting, well drilled and drum tight, leaving me feeling very excited about Australia’s punk rock future.

With Mojos Freo now resembling something like a little town in New Zealand there wasn’t a pocket not taken up by devoted Shihad fans waiting for the Kiwi boys to take the stage. Shihad’s impressive back catalogue of songs translated perfectly onto a pub stage and every lick lapped up by the punters.

Touring with new album FVEY, Shihad sounded amazing. Every ounce of experience shines through on stage with perfectly executed tones and harmonies showing of their grittier new album. The crowd erupted like we knew they would, with Jon Toogood’s endearing banter between songs, the punters patiently waited for the classics to come, and they did. With My Mind’s Sedate threatening to tear the place apart, and Home Again prompting a wonderfully toned sing along, Shihad found the right balance between thanking their faithful fans and giving us the insight into their new songs. Mojos proved once again why it is one of WA’s most popular live venues.