Sat. Aug 13th, 2022

Credit: Jordan Munns

Is there a better way to celebrate your 500th show than with 5000 of your closest friends? I’m here to tell you the answer is no, dear reader. Seven albums in and on the back of their newest album Weirder & Weirder, Ball Park Music returned to Sydney’s Hordern Pavilion and showed the crowd how and why they’ve risen to the top of Australia’s live music landscape.

Opening the night was Melbourne’s RAT! Hammock. Despite Parramatta Road’s notoriously shit traffic succeeding in me missing the majority of their set, what I did hear was great and in line with what I’ve come to know of the band over the past few years.

Next up was Adelaide’s Teenage Joans. With singer and guitarist Cahli Blakers thankful for it being Friday, her love for Katy Perry’s “TGIF” (even if tongue-in-cheek) was a hallmark for a tidy, yet sometimes loose set. Opening up with “Ice Cream” before moving into “Terrible”, the duo’s between track banter allowed their 30 minute set to flow organically. Closing out on unreleased track “Super Glue”, “Wine”, “Three Leaf Clover” and “Something About Being Sixteen”, Teenage Joans certainly won over a few more fans during their set.

Acting as main support for the night was Northern Territory legends King Stingray. With songs sung in their native Indigenous tongue as well as English, the five piece got the crowd moving and only continued to highlight why just about everyone has high hopes for the band. With a set filled with all their biggest songs, from “Camp Dog” to “Get Me Out” and brand new track “Let’s Go”, saving their biggest song for last in “Milkumana” was a masterstroke by the band and only left the frothdogs down the front wanting more.

As Australia’s loveliest band, Ball Park Music has set the tone for what bands can do to engage music fans across the country. Their interactions with the public online and in person is always wholesome and only makes it easier to see and hear how the band has managed to develop such a strong and loyal fan base over their career. Playing an all ages show meant many in the crowd were still teenagers (and younger) attending with their parents and friends perhaps to see their first live show.

And, honestly, if I could go back 15 years to my first show, I’d have hoped it could be from Ball Park Music. Every time I’ve seen the band live they’ve delivered, from cover songs to deep album tracks to the time they toured a gong around the country and asked the crowd each night if they ‘wanted to see us hit this gong?’ (no surprises, but it was a huge result for all involved when the gong was hit).

You just knew the crowd were about to see a red hot set when the pre-set soundtrack finished on John Williamson’s “Home Among the Gumtrees”, and did not BPM deliver the goods. Commencing the set with recent single “Manny”, the night moved swiftly into Good Mood‘s “The End Times” before going even further back in the BPM timeline to 2014’s Puddinghead and the ever pleasant “Everything is Shit Except My Friendship With You”. Straight away you could see the growth of the band over the years, as their stage presence and light show went further up the echelons of quality.

Having not really been able to tour their self-titled and Weirder & Weirder albums so far, naturally much of the set was skewed toward songs from these two albums. In addition to “Manny”, “Weirder & Weirder”, everyone’s favorite ode to sun safety “Sunscreen”, “The Present Moment”, and the nostalgic “Stars In My Eyes” all made appearances from Weirder & Weirderwhile the riotous “Spark Up!”, a stripped back version of “Cherub”, “I Feel Nothing” and main set closer “Head Like a Sieve” (featuring frontman Sam Cromack dedicating the song three times to ‘everyone who has troubles remembering things’ – classic dad joke) all got a run from the self-titled.

While it was great to hear how the newer material played out live, evidently it was the older fan favorites that got the best response from the crowd. The loving “Exactly How You Are” and band cornerstone “It’s Nice to be Alive” were set highlights for all involved, while the more upbeat and exotic “Pariah” (featuring extended drum and keyboard solos), “Trippin ‘the Light Fanstastic” and “She Only Loves When I’m There” really got the blood pumping for the crowd on a colder winter night.

With all this in mind, the highlight of the night was probably the stripped back “The Perfect Life Does Not Exist”, delivered solo and acoustic by the completely terrified guitarist Dean Hanson. As a song I never really gravitated towards at the time of its release, seeing it wound down and revised really hit me hard and honestly, I would not have wanted it any other way.

Closing the night on long time fan favorite “Sad Rude Future Dude”, you came to realize that everything this band does is done wholly, with full hearts and the best of intentions. Sure, they did not bring out the big gong from the first time I saw them, but that did not matter. A band playing their 500th show could have made the night all about themselves, but Ball Park Music made the show about the fans. And for that alone, it speaks wonders to their character, longevity, and just how bloody good they are.


Grab tickets to the remaining Ball Park Music shows HERE

Header credit: Jordan Munns


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