DAN HOWLS @ Mojos Bar gets 8/10

Dan Howls Single Launch @ Mojos Bar

w/ Jack Davies and The Bush Chooks, The Psychotic Reactions
Saturday, May 25, 2019


I bounded through the front door of Mojos and walked straight into a wall of people. I stopped, surprised by how woozy and warm the front room felt so early in the night. It’s always muggy in Mojos, but the crisp last breath of Autumn was starting to set in, and a winter tiredness captured the small space. It was Dan Howls’ single launch, and I stood in a room full of fur jackets swallowing people, like it was a room made up of people who were made of honey mead.

The evening showcased of an eclectic line-up that transgressed different flavours. From The Psychotic Reactions’ 60’s garage-rock to break in the evening, to the Australiana folk story ways of Jack Davies & The Bush Chooks, it would collapse onto the bountiful blues of Dan Howls to introduce their latest tune. I was absolutely intrigued to see if such a varying palette would work together, and I twisted in my position leaning against the bar to find out.

Sadly The Psychotic Reactions were packing up as I got there. Frontwoman Hannah carried her guitar off stage as I carried my shame in my shoulders. I’d seen them twice before – there’s a certain luxury of freedom to their anthems and I think a time will come when they will thunder into the music scene on a larger scale, their shaggy hair and blood-shot eyes tailed by a beloved crowd. Their latest release is an absolute doozy, and for playlist purposes can be found under the heading (I Don’t) Wanna Make You Mine.

Jack Davies & The Bush Chooks are local treasures. The depth of the maturity in their music calls to mind a picture of a group that must have spent a lot of time feeling lonely. What I mean is their ability to paint a light picture from deeper contexts shows maturity beyond their age. Couple that with the bold decisions that they make musically, and it casts an insight into the freedom of creative expression they allow themselves. Some Things Don’t Last a Very Long Time was certainly a crowd favourite, as the effervescent orchestral elements twanged with Australiana gave the song a lot of freedom to be appreciated. In a delightful twist, frontman Jack Davies introduced a song only rehearsed that day. The one critique could be that it is very hard to understand Davies between songs, as he speaks more to the band than the crowd. There are moments where you missed what he said completely, yet it mattered more how he sang for the crowd, in which he was crystal clear.

Dan Howls
‘ set began with a short viewing of the film clip for King Si. He shrugged off a technical fuck up by playing his harmonica. A rowdy crowd watched a soundless clip to the musings of a singalong, which saved a moment that could have been a lot worse than it was. We watched in anticipation as the screen flickered distorted images of pomegranates and anarchism. The project completed by Emile M. Smith was an eloquent balance of disturbing and thought-provoking.

Yet technicalities aside, the set started smoothly, transitioning easily between genres. Down and Out was their first live song of the evening. You had to wonder how Howls escapes flu season, or if the almost-famous drawl is accentuated by a grainy throat. From Queen of Harlem to The Prince, the unrefined qualities of the five-piece cast acidic elements across the audience. Between their creative thought and their instruments, no space exists. This band’s live performance aspect has got to be mentioned. From draining a whiskey bottle with the crowd, to dropping to the ground for an extended outro, the boisterous energy can only be described as having a shit tonne of soul. I always worry about blues musicians falling victim to an overplayed stereotype, but their performance shoves authenticity down your throat. King Si was the last song to round out the set, and I pondered how this new release compared to their previous workings. Eery and powerful, it surpasses previous listings as it relishes in their gritty version of blues.

With the technical shitstorms and the mugginess of a polished room, there were probably a few reasons to impact their score negatively. Yet I can’t imagine Dan Howls will ever play a shitty gig in their life. The authenticity represented on the stage across both supporting acts and headliners was something that a punter can connect with so easily, it plays a trump card against external factors.


Photos by Julian Neil

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