Ecca Vandal @ The Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle NSW Australia 09/11/2017 written by Brendan Lewis.
WARNING! This car race analogy was performed in a studio with trained actors, I am blind remember, I don’t actually tear around the streets like Vin Diesel in Fast and Furious….. I do it safely.
Grab any old car, and pimp it up with the candid, sweet RnB voice of Gwen Stefani, super-charged by the bite, roar and accelerating power of Lzzy Hale (Halestorm), in a body made of rumbling distorted bass, psychedelic riffs and hard-hitting rock layers from bands like No Doubt, Muse and Garbage, then inject a shot of nitrous into it all and what do you get? The answer is Melbourne alt-rocker Ecca Vandal, and she’s not mucking around! Tonight’s race will take place at The Cambridge Hotel’s Warehouse in Newcastle, in conjunction with the release of Ecca’s debut high-intensity self-titled album.
Start your engines, roll up to the start line and get ready for one hell of a ride!
Uno, Dos, Tres, GO! The show starts off with Ecca’s band members taking to the stage in absence of Ecca, teasing us in the audience with some electric drum beats along with some weird, retro middle-eastern style crackly vinyl sounding music, starting the race off with a bit of a twist. Without putting on her indicator, our suspense is silenced as Ecca cuts in front of her band members, races onto the stage and speeds straight into the first stretch of the show, ‘Dead Wait’ tearing off the start line with full speed at this adrenaline pumping speedster! This high-intensity track features some ear-catching drum beats that go from electric drum pads in the verse, giving the sound an edgy-electro-rock vibe, then morph into acoustic drums for the chorus adding a shot of that nitrous to the mix, adding to the hard-hitting rock element of the track. As Ecca busts a funky move with swift agility as her well amplified strong vocals run circles around our ears, her fellow band members are a little vacant of energy, I get the feeling they might be rationing out their fuel as to not burn out too quickly.
Now with only a quick tap of the breaks, Ecca addresses us all with a “Newcastle, how you doing?” before speeding off into the next two songs ‘Your Way’ and Ecca’s latest swinging hit, ‘Future Heroin’. The first of these sprints features more tricky drum techniques and swift flowing from electric to acoustic drum pads, adding diversity to the sound, as Ecca moves up closer to us at the front, really getting in our faces and thrusting the sheer energy into the audience, as she waves her arm from side to side as if egging on/teasing police cars attempting to pull her over in a high speed chase. This song also brings out some sweet fluttering vocals that accelerate beautifully throughout the tiny room, and sees Ecca swerve off the road (stage) and come and rock out in the crowd with a “make some noise!”, ramping up the energy levels dramatically! This is followed up with some cool hydraulics as Ecca now returns to the stage and bounces around swiftly and excitedly. After a burst of gratitude “Thank you!” from Ecca, the second song in question, shows off Ecca’s vocal diversity whilst keeping up the high energy, with a stand-out sustained high note at the end of the final chorus and clear vocals that mirror the recorded track. Ecca’s rocking out now changes into a sexy, enticing display. Yes Ecca, these blind eyes see you there baby, shakin’ that ass….
Being super-charged by that elevated energy, Ecca puts the pedal to the metal even harder, and flows straight into ’Battle Royal’ ‘Father Hu$$ia’ and ‘End Of Time’. For ‘Battle Royal’ after the strobe lighting in the intro, Ecca jumps around like she’s insane in the membrane as the crowd dances along with her, a little less casually as they’ve been doing earlier. Feeding off the crowds enthusiasm, Ecca jumps straight into it quite literally, as she again joins her audience in the battle arena for some fierce rocking out! The next turn of this circuit starts with some psychedelic wild riffs on guitar and beats on drums that continue to impress me as they seamlessly change from electric to acoustic. The trippy psychedelic vibe is driven further with the addition of pulsating strobe lighting, making Ecca’s energetic movements flicker and sporadic. Ecca now momentarily slows down as she talks to her audience, before picking the speed back up for the electric/alternative contrast of ‘Father Hu$$ia’. This songs’ attention grabbing contrast and Ecca’s charismatic dance moves to go with it, draw the audience closer to the action, and just as you’re getting accustomed to the contrast, the hard-hitting rock vibe drifts back in for the chorus. The sound mixing in this song is clear enough, but Ecca’s voice does seem a little muffled for whatever reason. This downfall is made up by Ecca holding the microphone out to the crowd with a “YEAH!” which does prompt a few sing alongs from people, sustaining her roaring connection with her audience. The aura of sound takes a funky turn, bringing some groovy bass lines for ‘End Of Time’, prompting the return of entrancing charisma with dance moves to match, and clear vocals that tingle the musical palate. Ecca continues to inject cannons of energy into the audience with revving us up with a “everybody put your hands up” in which the crowd obliged to the command, plus even got some of the drunk-drivers (audience) singing along with Ecca.
As we speed down the home stretch we are presented with songs like ‘Your Orbit’, ‘Truth To Trade’, ‘Cassettes, Lies And Videotapes’ ‘Price Of Living’ and appropriately titled “final” song ‘Closing Ceremony’. All these songs are quite fast and furious, and… wait, I’m not gonna get sued for using the name am I? Anyway, these songs feature more mountains of energy that make the whole audience keep moving and even bring out a few slight head-bangs to the beat. I have to mention too, that in ‘Your Orbit’ the rock essence is brought to a heavier tone pumping the energy up nicely! Ecca even awakens the first clap along from the audience as they dance/groove around and occasionally sing along, you can really feel the positivity beaming from Ecca and her audience, going round and round like a dick-head doing donuts in his Impreza WRX in the Maccas car-park on a Friday night. Side note, seriously, is it worth the $50 in fuel and a new set of tyres it goes through? The awe inspiring transition from acoustic to electric drums continues, and the energy reaches it’s peak in ‘Closing Ceremony’ as Ecca revs us up/talks to us near the songs end and rocks out profusely. According to the set list, that I’ll be reading later whilst doing this review, that was the “last” song, so Ecca thanks us once again and informs us she’ll be hanging around the back after to say hi to us all thus keeping the good vibes rolling, then doesn’t even go off the stage for her encore, which is ‘Cold Of The World’ and finally, sure to be a rock anthem, party pumping, fist pumping, in-your-face track ‘Broke Days, Party Nights’. Ecca eggs us on to “bring it for the end!” before finale ‘Broke Days, Party Nights’ and joins us in the audience one last time as she rocks out with crazy hype and dazzling sound, speeding the show over the finish line in a triumphant blaze!
This analogy of the show being like a high speed, high energy car race wasn’t just picked for something different to try or because I got bored, it’s because this show really does leave you full of adrenaline and a little shell-shocked by the insane musical energy and performance! Ecca really is a force to be reckoned with! Buckle up, because Ecca’s career is just getting started and I’m sure there’s more from where that came from!