Not even a global pandemic can hold Hockey Dad back
While Hockey Dad’s music turns into a different force on the live stage, Brain Candy prove they can keep looking forward.
Header image by Ian Laidlaw.
It kills me to say it, but I’ll admit that I never understood the charm of Hockey Dad until I saw them live. I understood the appeal - their 2016 debut record Boronia was an explosive burst of energy that became somewhat defining of an entire Australian surf-rock movement - but there was always something I just couldn’t grapple with, and as a result, I was never really too motivated to go further into their discography from there. It just… didn’t fall in line with what I was listening to at the time.
However, I’ll also be the first to stand up and say that Hockey Dad completely changed - at least in my eyes - when I finally saw them live. On the live stage, Hockey Dad feel like an entirely different beast. While much of their surf-rock comparatives are anything but quiet on the live stage, Hockey Dad seemingly blossom into something far bigger, bringing far more than you would expect from a lone two-piece on the stage by themselves. If you’ve seen them at one of the many festivals that have hosted the Windang duo over the years you’d most likely understand where I’m coming from, but on their own - in headline mode, with a crowd there to see them and no-one else - there’s an energy that really captures the duo at their prime, and why they’ve become such a prevalent force in homegrown rock over the last few years.
Having the context of a live show behind them, going into their second album Blend Inn felt like an entirely different experience. You can hear this energy crucial to their live show make itself known through the album’s core; the record capturing everything you find yourself loving from a Hockey Dad live show but in the recorded space, and in a way that felt different to how it was shown on Boronia.
On Blend Inn, Hockey Dad’s best qualities shone. It was adventurous without veering too far away from the sounds that soundtracked their glow-up; ruckus-inducing without the aggression or confrontational feeling you get from similarly maximalist records; authentic and DIY, built from the ground up by some of the band’s long-time team members, close friends, and the regional NSW communities that made Hockey Dad who they are. It was rough around the edges, but in the best of ways; an extension of Boronia that showed how Hockey Dad had continued to evolve and further themselves.
On the live stage, you’d be forgiven for confusing Hockey Dad with a band triple their experience. At a show in Perth, their hour-long performance felt finished in two seconds; a rush of energy that took off with their Vengaboys-soundtracked entrance to the second their show finished, with everything from drum solos to way too many stage jumpers wedged in between.
Last Friday brought a new Hockey Dad record, with the group sharing Brain Candy - a third record that’s bound to further amplify Hockey Dad’s sound and push them into a new era of Australian rock. However, this time around, things are different.
At the start of the year, Hockey Dad’s album roll-out was seemingly beginning swimmingly. They shared a handful of singles that captured the mania of the band in new ways, showing a sense of evolution further pushing Hockey Dad’s sound. They announced tour dates playing their biggest shows to date, playing dates in June following the album’s release in late-May. It seemed that 2020 was going to be the year of Hockey Dad, deservedly so - it had been a long time in the making.
Then, of course, things started to derail. “Unfortunately we have had to push back the release due to everything that is happening on the planet right now,” announced the band, pushing back Brain Candy’s release to its new date on July 31st. Then, came the live shows, their dates throughout June moved all the way to April 2021. However, Hockey Dad didn’t let it get to them, getting back on track and announcing drive-in shows down at Wollongong that’d still see them bring the record to life. Of course, because we don’t deserve nice things, that ended up being cancelled too, thanks to a downpouring that left the venue waterlogged and unsuitable for stages and cars.
However, with Brain Candy, Hockey Dad are continuing to move forward. Even without the explosiveness of their live show to bring the record to life, you can still hear that energy in the core of the album - even moreso than Blend Inn. It’s Hockey Dad at their most clear-cut, from the sweeping vocals to the driving melodies that battle for attention alongside; a deeper exploration not just into the band’s roots in grommet-loved surf-rock, but also one that goes a little further into future paths, and what there may be to come from the duo.
That latter part - Hockey Dad’s future paths - feels particularly evident throughout Brain Candy. Despite being made with much of the same team and sound as their past records, Hockey Dad’s headspace was a little different this time around, something which shows through the album’s more reflective lyricism. It’s a little more thoughtful, presenting a deeper look into Hockey Dad than what we’ve gotten in the past but in a way that doesn’t deflect from their sound and what’s central to Hockey Dad’s make-up.
It’s an album that proves Hockey Dad’s class even without it being exaggerated on the live stage; a moment for Hockey Dad to prove that nothing - not even a global pandemic - can hold them back from the time in the limelight they deserve with a record like Brain Candy.
And so, the group keep looking forward. Tonight, at 8PM AEST / 6PM AWST, Hockey Dad will present Alive At The Theatre, a livestream of the planned drive-in shows that have now been postponed at a later date. You can tune in here, and find details about their rescheduled shows - both the drive-in shows and their national album tour - below.
Hockey Dad Alive At The Drive In Tour Dates:
FRIDAY 9 OCTOBER – BULLI SHOWGROUND, WOLLONGONG
SATURDAY 10 OCTOBER – BULLI SHOWGROUND, WOLLONGONG
Hockey Dad National Tour Dates:
FRIDAY 9 APRIL 2021 – BIG TOP LUNA PARK, SYDNEY
SATURDAY 10 APRIL 2021 – FORTITUDE MUSIC HALL, BRISBANE
FRIDAY 16 APRIL 2021 – METROPOLIS, FREMANTLE
THURSDAY 22 APRIL 2021 – THEBARTON THEATRE, ADELAIDE
SATURDAY 24 APRIL 2021 – THE FORUM, MELBOURNE
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