Live Review: Ball Park Music

BALL PARK MUSIC!!! Are there three better words that sound as good when strung together? Brisbane’s favourite indie-pop quintet has been keeping pretty busy since the release of their 2014-acclaimed 3rd album Puddinghead. They’ve been touring internationally, writing, recording new material and of course we saw lead singer Sam Cromack step out on his own solo endeavor My Own Pet Radio, releasing an album of his own called Goodlum in 2015.

But alas, BPM are back baby. 2016 well and truly has been the year of music releases with little-to-no warning (Radiohead, Beyoncé, James Blake), which was no exception to how Ball Park Music dropped their first taste of new material Pariah a little short of a month ago. The seven-minute long psychedelic trip sees the band experimenting outside of their comfort zones, to an overall great reception. One week later, boom, first official single, a return to form back to the upbeat pop-driven Ball Park we know and love with Nihilist Party Anthem. In celebration of the new material being released into the world, the Brissy faves did a short national tour, saving the hometown show at The Zoo ’til last.

I arrive while the support band playing before them, Mid Ayr are just wrapping up their set. Preoccupying myself with the essential ‘to do’ checklist at gigs of dashing to the bathroom, buying a drink and finding your mates, I didn’t get to really listen in to their final songs. From what I did hear though, and from other punters’ personal reviews, they did great, so that’s great.

After about 20 minutes of waiting, Ball Park Music grace the stage. Now give a good 30 seconds for cheers and applause to end- aaaaaand they’re off! Kicking the set off with a beloved song of theirs (the very first Ball Park Music song I’d heard and what got me into them back in grade 10, fun fact), called iFly (I Fucking Love You). Without a doubt kicking off things with a bang, they immediately move into another 2011 classic Literally Baby, which needless to say, sent the crowd into a frenzy.

It was at this point in the set that we were treated to some BRAND new music, as in new music that HASN’T been released or even heard by the general public yet. The song was called Feelings, maintaining a very funky upbeat baseline throughout and as you can probably imagine, had its story centered around growing feelings for different people/ things/ situations. It’ll definitely be a success once it’s released into the world.

But from there on out it was an all-out Ball Park Music show, flying through a set list of crowd pleasers consisting of; Next Life Already, Everything Is Shit Except My Friendship with You, Coming Down, new one Nihilist Party Anthem, Surrender, She Only Loves Me When I’m There, Happy Healthy Citizen of the Developed World Blues, All I Want Is You, Fence Sitter, Trippin’ The Light Fantastic and finishing up the set with the epic, predominately instrumental Pariah.

Although the band DID leave the stage and give the usual “alright, that’s us done, thanks for coming everybodyyy seeya next time!” treatment, there was obviously going to be an encore (hint: if the venue doesn’t turn the lights and background music back on, there’s gonna be an encore). To nobody’s surprise, out came Sam and bassist Jen, whilst the other members remained backstage.

Ball Park Music has made a real knack for covering songs. From their epic amphitheater performance of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody at Splendour in the Grass 2014, or their Like a Version cover of Vampire Weekend’s Diane Young they’ve taken on the road since early last year. This time, we were treated to an acoustic cover of the king of rock & roll, Elvis Presley’s 1961 number one classic Can’t Help Falling in Love, which Sam devoted to his significant other (aawwwwwwww).

After what really was a successful cover that did the original justice, the remaining three members made their way back out onto the guitar, synth and drums to finish off the set with remaining crowd pleasers Its Nice To Be Alive and Cocaine Lion.

Although it was a little disappointing not to hear older songs like Sad Rude Future Dude and Alligator, the show was pretty gosh darn excellent. Having been lucky enough to have seen Ball Park Music about 5 times since my 16 year old self fell in love with them at Caloundra Music Fest back in 2012, I can safely say that they’re only getting better and better as they go. Even though they’ve had renowned international success, three critically acclaimed albums and a cult-following of fans since taking out the glorious title of triple j unearthed act of the year 2011, the local legends remain humble, down to earth, and just like a more mature version of their dorkier, inexperienced selves.

The Zoo was a great place for the show, with a strong sense that the people who packed out the sold out gig were real Ball Park fans, chanting every word to almost every song. Ball Park Music, you’ve done it again. If you haven’t seen them play before, you really really really need to ASAP.

You can next see Ball Park Music at Splendour In The Grass 2016.

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