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Live Review: The Belligerents w/ LEO & WAAX @ The Foundry

Indie 5-piece The Belligerents launched their latest single Before, I Am in style at The Foundry last Friday night, bringing with them two eclectic support acts and plenty of stage charisma.

Adelaide alt-rock band LEO kicked the night off with a style all of their own, delivering a set filled with dreamy chord combinations and soft, eerie vocals. The crowd was still, staring mesmerised at the stage as the band brought their songs to life with a relaxed style. Keeping the onstage movement to a minimum, they allowed their sound to steal the spotlight. Throughout the set, unembellished guitar proved to be the perfect backing for an effortlessly pure vocal performance.

Up next, punk 5-piece WAAX turned LEO’s laidback style on its head with their moody vocals and soaring guitar riffs. Frontwoman Maz Devita’s dramatic, attention-grabbing stage presence and crazy facial expressions were enough to rival Mangelwurzel’s Cosima Jaala, making her the undisputed star of the performance. Halfway through the first song, Devita swapped singing for screaming and jumping around the stage, counteracting her bandmates’ subdued performance style with exuberant energy.


Before the second number, she whipped off her beanie and started thrashing her head around, whipping her hair into a frenzy and wordlessly encouraging the crowd to do the same. Those who weren’t inclined to dance stood and watched in confusion as she screeched, looking unsure of how to feel about the whole unorthodox performance. Devita’s screaming and wild facial expressions gave every song a sense of dramatic urgency that seemed almost too much for the relatively tame instrumentation, but it definitely got the crowd fired up.

After a 20 minute intermission and half of a singalong to Chumbawumba’s Tubthumping, the crowd were more than ready for The Belligerents. With their crazy hair and skinny jeans, they resembled a 1970s rock band with a touch of Tim Minchin’s eclectic fashion sense, and their performance was every bit as unique as their style.

Most bands would have a tough time blending Egyptian chord progressions and intergalactic synthesisers in a live setting, but The Belligerents looked totally comfortable with the combination in their opening number. Frontman Lewis Stephenson came prepared with his trademark carefree dance moves, making it impossible for the crowd to tear their eyes from the stage.


From there, the tracks only grew in intensity and energy. The crowd sang along with enthusiasm as the band played through their 2015 hit Voices, following it up immediately with their new single Before, I Am. The track showed off their penchant for falsetto, dreamy harmonies, and psychedelic guitar riffs while Stephenson threw in as much confidence and charisma as possible. Kicking off with a trademark squeal, the single triggered head-banging and crowdsurfing, peaking just as one daring punter was removed from the venue by security.

The single tour presented the perfect opportunity for the triumphant return of the most-loved tracks from The Belligerents’ 2015 EP ‘Outside: Inside’. The perfectly-bent guitar melodies and crunchy vocal harmonies in Shake It were more than deserving of their long outro, while Looking At You created plenty of opportunities for epic guitar solos and surprisingly well-tuned shrieks between lyrics.

The Belligerents’ brand new track Caroline brought an irresistible dance vibe to the show, even inspiring Stephenson to join in the crowd-surfing. The lights went out mid-song, making room for dramatic strobe lighting and adding another layer of drama to the show.


Drummer Samuel Sargent proved himself the best headbanger in the band, but it was lead guitarist James Griffin who pulled some of the weirdest facial expressions of the night, all the while laying down impressively clean falsetto vocals. By the end of the song Stephenson’s hair had formed a glorious mop-like cover over his face, but it was sadly short-lived, swept into a bun before the next song, It’s All The Same.

After an encore featuring a catchy cover of the legendary Fatboy Slim’s hit Praise You, The Belligerents left the crowd more than satisfied. The future looks bright for these boys, their fanbase set to grow along with their catalogue of quirky tunes – after all, what’s not to love about an epic psychedelic rock number with its own equally-psychedelic choreography?

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Written by Jess Martyn