Getting to know The Smith Street Band (opening for Frank Turner tonight)
Let’s talk about The Smith Street Band for a little bit.
They’ve traveled a pretty long ways to join English folk rock romantic Frank Turner on his fall U.S. tour that’s hitting the Electric Factory on Friday. Like, Australia far. The Melbourne quartet have been playing a brand of heart-burning punk rock since 2009 – the kind that’s likely to be found highlighted during Gainesville, Florida’s annual Fest (which The Smith Street Band played this year) – and have two full-length albums under their belt, last year’s Sunshine & Technology and 2011’s No One Gets Lost Anymore (Poison City). They’re on tour with Turner (and his band, The Sleeping Souls) and Minneapolis crew Koo Koo Kanga Roo in support of their recently released EP, Don’t Fuck With Our Dreams (Poison City), a five-song entry into the Smith Street catalogue that shaves off the folk tinges the band has flashed in earlier releases.
We don’t need to waste time seeking out passion when listening to The Smith Street Band; vocalist Wil Wagner’s thickly coated Aussie accent hoists us by the shirt collar like a ‘90s playground bully would. Song lyrics as diary entries might be a tired cliché to use, but Wagner writes what he knows and, when anchored by the rest of the band, his words are arresting. “Ducks Fly Together,” a standout track from Dreams, finds Wagner confessing over a restlessly tapping lead guitar: “And I was so scared / To talk to your friends / Pretended that I was a real person / Trying to remember names / smiling and nodding / But I couldn’t kick the grin / From when you’d gone and kissed me quickly in the kitchen”.
Given Australia’s proximity to the rest of the world, it’s not out of hand that The Smith Street Band’s touring regiment finds them playing shows all over the world. It’s probably super demanding. But they’re entrenched in the constantly-growing, always-evolving punk scene, the bulk of which is centered in many countries that happen to not be Australia. These are some of the biggest shows the Smith Streeters have played to date. They’re worth checking out- chances are, the hike over to the Electric Factory won’t be as hemisphere spanning.