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REVIEW: Shifting Blame with The Beaches

Writing by Erandhi Mendis // Photography by Briarna Dal Col

“You guys ready to blame your fucking exes?” lead singer and bassist Jordan Miller screams into the Howler sound system.

I really do think there is no better fuel for creativity than heartbreak. An indie rock Canadian scandal broke when Miller and then boyfriend Brett Emmons (of The Glorious Sons) ended things after three years. It’s the kind of niche drama that I would have zero knowledge about if not for a series of events that led to The Beaches completely selling out three nights in Melbourne.

Over the past 12 months, Toronto-based band The Beaches have experienced a somewhat meteoric rise to fame that is more commonly associated with solo acts. But their origin story goes back further than that: signing with Island in 2016, releasing a debut to critical acclaim in Canada in 2017, collecting a few Juno Awards and touring with Passion Pit and The Rolling Stones in 2019. Sure, they had fame in North America and Canada before the pandemic – but their ascent to global prominence was undoubtedly propelled by their 2023 release Blame Brett going viral on TikTok.

In the interest of journalistic integrity, I sourced some interviews that suggest Emmons and Miller are on good terms, which is semi comical hearing a full room scream his name in rage halfway across the world. The song itself seems to have resonated the globe over because of that super fun concept that as we accumulate hurt and damage we often spread the pain like a peculiar infectious disease.

The coping mechanism of shifting blame is so universal that the virality of Blame Brett feels obvious; while we all alleviate shame and guilt in different ways, being able to construct a villain is often the path of least resistance.

“I used to drunk cry with strangers,” Miller says before launching into hit single What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Paranoid. The Canadian rock quartet perform in a way that is both urgent and timeless. It’s messy, but it reminds me of watching clips of Riot Grrrl bands back in the 90s who were crucial in unapologetically steering a conversation about female rage. Sticky floors and groups of women moshing on a Wednesday night feels oddly safe because the band themselves have an unspoken level of camaraderie. Kylie is Jordan’s little sister, together they and drummer Eliza Enman-McDaniel grew up in a neighbourhood of Toronto (aptly named The Beaches) before meeting guitarist Leandra Earl.

The show is raucous and sexy. It’s also highly interactive with someone handing Miller a lighter as a gift, “I’m going to use this to smoke later.” Others in the crowd yell out about how the band turned their sister bisexual. And my favourite moment is when Miller asks – before their song Shower Beer – what a good Melbourne beer is, and someone right at the back screams “Carlton!” like their life depends on it.

The intimacy of the venue allows the band to maintain conversation on stage between songs, “this song is about my ex girlfriend who I had no boundaries with – classic lesbian drama.” The crowd cheers in laughter for this as they perform Edge Of The Earth. They’ve mastered performing an anthem but I find myself craving more sonic diversity in their setlist (or perhaps, discography). The performances are infectious and well executed, as a band they know how to put on a show and Millers’ raspy vocal in particular soars.

Across all streaming platforms, allegedly Australia is The Beaches’ third most listened to country but I’m more impressed that they seem to be taking a stab at breaking the US market. Selling out two nights at The Troubadour and Williamsburg Hall respectively is no mean feat. As they wrap with an encore of one of their earliest singles, Money I am sure they will be back down under in the near future.

“Sometimes the worst moments of your life can bring you to Australia,” says Miller, which is a pretty good outcome from a breakup if you ask me.


Erandhi Mendis

Ramona’s resident music editor has been writing music and writing about music since Alex Patsavas first revolutionised the sound of teenage angst. A wearer of many hats, Erandhi says the common thread between all her jobs is storytelling. She likes asking equal amounts of serious and silly questions and one day would like to bottle the feeling you get from being in a crowd listening to live music. You can listen to her favourite tracks of the week here.

Briarna Dal Col

Briarna is a Melbourne based, freelance portrait photographer who fuses the old with the new. Her dreamy, soft aesthetics are inspired by paintings and historical periods, finding exciting ways to reinvent these references in a modern context. You connect with her for bookings and explore her portfolio at her business AZURELLA and on instagram.

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