It’s been a long time since we’ve seen Cub Sport at the Corner Hotel. In 2012, they supported Ball Park Music on their 180 Degree tour. Then, they had all but two songs and a slightly different name; now, they’ve rebranded (Cub Scouts never forget), downsized to quartet status, released a lengthy streak of EPs, gone blond, adopted more puppies (IIRC), given life to two gorgeous albums, and fallen in love. This week they played back-to-back-to-back-to-back sold out shows at the Corner Hotel, shining a glorious light on their progressive development as artists. In 2018, Cub Sport are all gloss, no superficiality.
Since launching themselves into the limelight with their debut single ‘Evie’ at the beginning of the decade, Cub Sport have evolved their penchant for tropical, riff-heavy indie pop into something more delicate. On 2016’s This Is Our Vice, we hear a major development of this, tracks like the anthemic ‘Come On Mess Me Up’ paving the way for the sonic specificity of their latest record, 2017’s BATS. This album marks a crescendo for more vocally-driven tracks, melodies that quiver with a certain questioning of self, and love in relation to ones’ self, materialised within a soul and R&B-inspired palette.
2018’s BATS (world!)tour finds the band at their most confident. The curtains opened to the gospel sound of ‘O Lord’ as lead singer/real life angel Tim Nelson held the audience in a trance: one hand on the mic, the other extending out beyond the crowd, reaching for a higher power. On this Monday evening, you could tell they’d nailed their shows the nights before, their stage presence remaining as tight-knit as a quartet’s could be, as they delivered a blistering perseverance through bops like ‘Temporarily’ and profound, introspective ballads like the Frank Oceaninterpolation-slash-continuation ‘Solo III’.
Between songs, Tim lamented on the stories behind the most sentimental tracks on BATS. ‘Banyo Blue’ was born out of a failed house-hunt in the eponymous Brisbane suburb where he and partner/bandmate Sam Netterfield had a miserable day. Tim attested though, that through everything, they were just happy to have each other; there’s nothing greater than that love. “Living for you now / Wouldn’t be anywhere other than here now”, Tim serenaded, as the crowd watched, enraptured, and it was hard not to feel a glowing warmness inside as Sam made eyes at him from across the stage.
Cub Sport have gone from singing songs about their dogs, to singing songs about one another—and this is the most fulfilling facet of their career. ‘Evie’ was written about their beautiful puppy of the same name (who shares an adorable Instagram fan account, pupsport, with her sister pup Missy); ‘Bats’ evokes a longing that can only be reciprocated by another person. We’ll sorely miss hearing live renditions of their back catalogue of hits, but hearing them unified through new songs of anxiety and love and pride is an especially comforting experience. Cub Sport: I stan forever.