Los Angeles, USA
By LORRAINE ALI
Los Angeles Times, September 1995
There's no denying that silverchair is the cutest band around. The three Australians, aged 15 and 16, have captured the hearts of even the most cynical rock pop fans with their little-kid looks and their sweet grunge hit Tomorrow. It's almost enough to make you forgive the Pearl Jam feel that dominates their debut album frogstomp. Hey, they're young -- and besides, could you have pulled together a fairly cohesive album when you were 15?
But one thing you wouldn't expect is for silverchair, in all its cuteness, to blow you away live, to prove [that they are] one of the most exciting live acts since alternatrive became a sales term rather than an aesthetic [one].
But that's exactly what [silverchair] did at the Whisky. The band, which was greeted by the female sector of the auidence with screams and whistles, launched into its songs with such power and focus that it put vaguely similar bands like Catherine Wheel, which has at least 10 years experience on it, to shame.
The band, which was discovered in working-class Newcastle through a 1994 demo contest sponsored by an Australian radio station, has clearly outgrown an early Pearl Jam fixation, playing its songs with a hard-hitting and improvisational edge. Black Sabbath (a favorite of the members' parents) seemed more at the root as silverchair played fat riffs that rocked like a good Metallica song. Helmet and Nirvana strains could also be detected, but all the influences were used as a conduit rather than a confining mold.
Of all the singers who have tried to emulate Kurt Cobain, singer-guitarist Daniel Johns (who looks eerily like the late Nirvana frontman) displays most strongly that soulfulness at the base of his crackling voice. He let the numbers rip, not really paying attention to what he would sound like but instead using his voice to convey myriad emotions [and] feelings you sensed that he may not even consciously realize are there.
Johns, bassist Chris Joannou and drummer Ben Gillies have also mastered the art of writing a good song -- a rarity in alternative rock, where most bands seem to think that sounding like Sonic Youth is enough. Its numbers rang like teen anthems, as catchy and rebellious as Cheap Trick's Surrender days, but as sonically booming as new bands like Helmet (minus the intensity).
The band inserted lots of improvisational interludes, alternating minimal and overpowering doses of feedback. Rather than coming off as obligatory noise, it complemented the songs with delicate and twisted dynamics.silverchair is one of the more exciting prospects to hit rock in a while. The band is teeming with potential, not to mention personality. The legions of Nirvana Jam bands out there should feel ashamed that a group of unassuming teenagers has beaten them at their own game.