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  • Brett Wood

Slaves @ The Brightside

Cheer up Brisbane, it’s not that bad!


Kent punk rock duo Slaves embarked on their first tour of Australia last week in support of their third studio album, Acts of Fear and Love, which released mid last year. Slaves kicked off the tour with shows in Brisbane and Perth before going on to play the Download Festival in Sydney and Melbourne later that week. Formed in 2012, Isaac Holman and Laurie Vincent have become well known in the UK festival circuit and punk scene. A crowd favourite at the 2016 Reading Leeds festival, Slaves have quickly earned their reputation as a must see band. The allure of Slaves is one part their infectious riffs and another part the sheer disregard for the stereotypical band set up. Instead of normal duo roles, in which the guitarist doubles as the vocalist, Slaves turns this concept on it’s head and shakes it violently. In an incredible feat, Holman elects to stand, play the drums and balance both of those aspects with singing, which creates a commanding presence on stage.


Supporting Slaves was local punk outfit Voiid who had quite a successful 2018 with the release of three singles and are shaping up to being a Brisbane favourite with an LP expected to drop early this year. Overall the performance was good, with singer Anji Greenwood using her fantastic stage presence to draw the audience in. The only downfall being that a silence crept over the mic during the verses of the brand new song they were debuting, as the singer had forgotten the lyrics. Though unfortunate, the song still sounded decent regardless of this mistake, with the drum composition being a real stand out part of the song. The track (named on the set list as R’N’R) definitely has potential, and the next time it’s played will hopefully be delivered in full. After Voiid warmed up the crowd, it was time for Slaves to take the stage.


“This one goes out to all of the miserable wankers in Brisbane!”

…belted out Slaves singer/drummer Isaac Holman before erupting into their hit working-class single ‘Cheer Up London’. The dry bass riff kicks in and the crowd’s put into a trance as snarky shouts about the drabness of working life carry on. In one part of the song, Holman does a cheeky switch of the lyrics to “Cheer up Brisbane, it’s not that bad!”. The crowd absolutely eats it up and the words shouted from the stage were returned just as loud as they had left.


This energy was felt throughout nearly every song on Slaves 45-minute set as the boys captured the full attention of everyone inside the small venue. Not once did they waiver in energy levels from their strong opening with ‘The Lives They Wish They Had’ to the more intimate ‘Photo Opportunity’, during which Holman went around the crowd pointing out phone use and shutting down footage takers, fitting with the song’s theme of being ridiculed by fans for turning down requests for pictures.


Slaves ability to turn the crowd into part of the performance is definitely a highlight of their shows. From jumping down into crowd with a guitar, to asking punters in the front about their feelings and telling everyone to “Look after each other. We’re all human beings.”


Slaves are built to be a live band and it really shows that they care about the crowds experience. No two shows are the same and regardless of the venue, be it a small pub or a packed out festival, they go into each show with the same mindset of giving everyone an unforgettable time. After giving the crowd a small rest with ‘Photo Opportunity’, the boys launched right back into action with ‘Chokehold’, dedicated to any fans who had been through heartbreak, and continued into older tracks ‘Sugar Coated Bitter Truth’ and ‘Beauty Quest’ before closing with fan favourite ‘The Hunter’.


In 45 minutes the lads had emptied a dozen water bottles, both onto themselves and the crowd, and left the stage while chanting “You are all slaves!”. Bruised, exhausted and drenched in water and sweat, the crowd had just been through the full Slaves experience which the duo does night after night. It is clear to see why they are one of the most talked about and promising UK acts at the moment.


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