Intense indie Aussies

Samantha Garvey, Roving Editor Ω 

The Jezabels played to a small but enthusiastic crowd on Monday night at the Blue Grotto. – Photo by Samantha Garvey

An enthusiastic crowd at the Blue Grotto was treated to the flawless floor show that is the Jezabels Monday night.

The Australian four-piece played to a crowd of 75, including many TRU students. The group easily maintained a deep connection with the audience with a palpable sense of urgency.

“The shows, they’re all a bit different because we draw our energy from the crowd,” said lead singer Hayley Mary.

She was mostly responsible for the crowd’s captivation. She stared fixedly outward, seemingly making eye contact with everybody at once.

Mary and bandmates Heather Shannon on piano/keyboard, Nik Kaloper on drums and Sam Lockwood on guitar met at the University of Sydney in Australia and released their first EP The Man is Dead in 2009.

Success from there has been climbing ever upwards. They’ve since had three titles on the popular Triple J Hottest 100 countdown, a people’s choice of best songs recounted on Australia Day on the national youth broadcaster. Their track “Mace Spray” cracked the top 20 of the countdown in 2010 and last year “Endless Summer” was the ninth-most popular song.

Already this year, the group has played nearly 100 shows according to Mary, from major festivals in Australia, to bookings in Germany and even Kamloops and other Canadian dates. But gaining audiences internationally is still a work in progress.

“It’s funny. We are at this embryonic stage at every place except Australia,” Mary said.

The band’s sound is hard to put a finger on. Perhaps the most accurate moniker is “intensindie,” which was put on their Facebook page by Lockwood and seemed to stick.

“It sums up a little bit of our attitude in that it’s kind of funny, but true and serious at the same time,” said Mary said. “Depending on the show we can get a little bit forceful on stage.”

Although not a packed house, the performance’s hold on the audience was unflinching, even through occasional light banter. Mary joked that they were almost not permitted across the Canadian border.

Australia’s The Jezabels performed on Monday evening at the Blue Grotto in downtown Kamloops. – Photo by Samantha Garvey

After three EPs, the Jezabels put out their first album in September of last year, Prisoner, which was voted sixth in the Triple J Album Poll in Australia. Mary said all group members work together to have some contribution to every song. But only to a certain extent.

“I still won’t actually let anyone contribute to lyrics,” Mary said, “because I feel like I need to be able to have a personal connection to them to sing them convincingly.”

Everyone was convinced of her conviction for the songs.

As for future plans, the strategy hasn’t changed. “We, for some reason, had this blind commitment to taking opportunities as they came up … And they keep presenting themselves so we keep taking them.”