Live Review: Bully – Woolly Mammoth (Brisbane)

Bully are an alternative rock band from Nashville, Tennessee. Since forming in 2013, the band has built up a massive reputation and fan base from all corners of the world. Some of the biggest music outlets around have named Bully as their personal favourite new band, or labelled them as the band that is going to explode and take the world by storm in 2016 (similar to that of Franz Ferdinand in 2004 or Arctic Monkeys in 2006).

With fuzzy guitars, raw drums and burly pop riffs: the Nashville four-piece brought their joyous pop-punk down under for their first ever trip to Australia. Performing three headline shows and nabbing two festival slots during their stay here, I was lucky enough to witness Bully’s Brisbane show at Woolly Mammoth’s Mane Stage on Saturday, the 12th of December.

Let me kick this off by saying, up until the last few days, I have really not had much to do with Bully. They’ve been one of those bands that I’ve read a whole bunch about, with a heavy underlying concept being that they are set to take over in 2016 as one of the biggest bands in the world. For some reason or another though, I’d just never made the time for them.
Anyways, managing to nab some tickets to their show in my town of Brisbane, I sat down and had a listen to their debut album Feels Like yesterday. Oh, my, god. To say I was kicking myself for not getting into them earlier would be an understatement. Each and every song just has so much OOMPF to it – thick as hell bass-lines, shredding guitar solos and an awesome uptempo poppy beat to every tune, so awesome..

Founding member and lead vocalist Alicia Bognanno, alongside maintaining a very smooth & polished singing voice, often sweeps over to a more grungy, angst fuelled yelling in most of the band’s songs. This yelling sounds like what Tommy Pickles (Rugrats) would sound like in his angsty teen years. I found this so incredibly cool, I don’t think it was exactly what she is going for, but it’s such a cool concept. Especially for an ex-Rugrats fan like me.

But yeah, thanks to Frontier Touring and (arguably) Australia’s coolest record label I Oh You, Bully has been in the country for the past week or so, really focussing on growing an Aussie fan base.

I walked into the Mammoth Mane Stage just after Bully’s set had begun, I suspect that I missed the first 2-3 songs (oops). Considering I had only listened to them for the first time the day of the show, I didn’t know any of the songs to sing along to. However, it was still apparent that Bully are a great live band. Every song was executed pretty perfectly, in that, you may as well have been listening to the professional recording.

It was obvious that this was the first time the band had been to the city of Brisbane, sometimes sounding a bit unsure of how to act, and seemingly holding back from going absolutely as crazy as they could on stage. Another thing I picked up on was that, throughout a large portion of the set, Alicia’s hair was covering her entire face. I’m not entirely sure if this is simply a tactic to block out the nerves that come with seeing the crowd, an artistic approach that’s been made famous by Aussie songstress Sia, or if it was simply an accident in falling that way.
Either way, nobody was complaining. She interacted with the crowd quite often, as well as breaking the 4th wall a few times in allowing the crowd to actually respond and converse back with them. Along with promoting the band’s merch desk situated up the back, she encouraged everyone in the crowd to…

“make sure you tell your friends about Bully, we want more fans here so we have a reason to always come back. We honestly love Australia, and I wouldn’t just say that without meaning it”.

God bless. The crowd was on their side as well, with a little less-than packed out venue, the audience was a more quality over quantity type of thing. A large portion of which were die-hard fans; singing along to pretty much every song. The moshpit had an absolutely INSANE energy, it had the type of wildness that only a few bands that I’ve seen live have been able to curate (such as Violent Soho, DZ Deathrays, Gang of Youths etc).

Overall, the show was awesome, their songs are awesome, and all the members of Bully in general just seem like awesome people. They possess the confidence and poise to make crowds from anywhere in the world fall in love with them, as displayed across Australia throughout this last week.

In summary, I would 100% recommend seeing this band if you ever have the chance. I’m ridiculously keen to hear more from them in 2016, the year that we are all going to fall in love Bully.

  • This review was written by Jakob Rosenblatt.

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