Friends, Zulu Winter & Howler live in Sydney

SYS checked out three up n coming acts in Sydney last week:

Zulu Winter, Howler and Friends came together from all over the world to Australia to play at the Splendour in the Grass Festival and, before they journeyed to the mud-fest at Byron Bay, the three bands triple headlined at the Oxford Art Factory.

Zulu Winter (pictured above) were up first and, arriving promptly onstage at 8.30pm, the five-piece were very well dressed in vintage attire. Frontman Will Daunt (who I have chatted to recently) was equally as charismatic on stage as he was over the phone, theatrically prancing around as he demonstrated acrobatic range in his vocals. Early in the set was crowd-favourite We Could Be Swimming, taken from the band’s release Language. The hook in Silver Tongue had me singing along, and another impressive number in a fine set was the bass-heavy Never Leave.

Howler changed the pace with a performance that compared to the loud, boisterous surf-rock sound of Wavves. The band’s cocky between-song banter would have been fine had the music been more exciting, but their seemingly arrogant comments didn’t impress me much. Maybe they were just Americanisms and I’m just prudish. Distracted from the music, I watched the drummer beat the shit out of those pots ‘n’ pans before the band closed with the summer anthem-to-be, Back of Your Neck. If the whole set had songs like this one I would be more enthusiastic to see them play again.

Two bands down, Friends took to the stage. The poor darlings explained early on that they were all a bit sick from their travels but this in no way let down their performance. The vibe set by Howler lifted and OAF became an all-in love-fest. I can only describe the babe lead singer, Samantha Urbani, as an indie Mariah Carey with a head cold. She led the band with her incredible vocals (albeit a little congested), bejewelled Tupac tee-shirt, messy hair and cute dance moves. In Friend Crush, she sung “Oooh, I wanna be your friend,” then jumped into the crowd and canoodled with random punters. It was sweet and awesome, even if she was spreading her germs. The best songs from the set were I’m His Girl, with that funky bass and bell chime sound, the heartfelt Sorry and playful track Home.

All three bands are definitely ones to watch. It was cool to see such up n coming international talent play back-to-back in the intimate band room at Oxford Art Factory, and I’m sure they’ll be back come summer, playing their own headline gigs.


Review and photos by Carol Bowditch.