Celebrating the release of their ecstatic second album, Pleasure Beast, Australia’s alternative-dance powerhouse Haiku Hands are performing at YES*.
Touted by NME as “Australia’s most electrifying pop prospect”, Haiku Hands have spent the last seven years setting fire to dance floors as a public service. Based across Melbourne and Sydney, the core of the collaborative project is Beatrice Lewis, and sisters Claire and Mie Nakazawa. Together, they curate, perform and work as a collective of artists, exploring social norms with their lyrical content, while subsuming a Frankenstein monster of genres within their singular, rebellious, and outright fun music.
Winning rave reviews from the likes of Rolling Stone, the Guardian and Clash, Haiku Hands dropped their debut self-titled album in 2020 – not ideal timing for a killer live act, but it accompanied many a one-man rave throughout the pandemic. Their second record, though, arrives at the perfect moment. We’re all trying to cut our screen time, fatigued by the compulsion to refresh our newsfeeds for the 99th time this morning. And in this tech-weary world, Pleasure Beast offers an escape – one that seeks out simple pleasures, celebrates community, and affirms the joy that life can be if you actually live it.
The album’s opening declaration, “I want pleasure on my French toast / I am here to be, to be sexy and free” sets the tone for the hedonistic electro-pop-rap extravaganza that follows. Channelling various elements of Gorillaz, Fatboy Slim and Charlie XCX, the exercise in dancefloor catharsis that is ‘Feels So Good’ is “a dedication to those moments in your life when you can be brave enough to find your voice and let it out, in a world that would often much prefer you to stay quiet, polite, in line and obedient”. The harder-hitting, acid-dusted ‘Cool For You’ is packed with artful attitude that makes you want to dance like nobody is watching, with optional middle fingers flipped.
‘Paradise’, described as a “three-minute holiday into another dimension” is lusher, more dreamy, as is the psychedelic ‘Elastic Love’. But the party fuel returns with the self-affirmation anthem ‘Nunchucka’ and beast-mode banger ‘Ma Ruler’. ‘Grandma’, meanwhile, provides lyrical context for all of this rebellious hedonism, lamenting the responsibilities of adulthood while lambasting phones and social media platforms that draw our attention away from the things that make life worth living.
Haiku Hands’ gigs do the very opposite of this, reminding you of the joy that comes with being in the moment. Packed with fun-loving choreography and kitsch costumes, and often featuring special guest appearances from collaborators, DJs, and rappers, their live shows are, by all accounts, exhilarating in a way that feels almost subversive. A celebration of self-expression, of life lived with passion, of joy for joy’s sake. So forget your phone. Dance. Embrace the chaos. Be human.
*Venue changed from Canvas.