Sunday, 20 July 2014




THE ROLLER DEN – 18/07/14

“Inky!!” screamed Pinky whilst darting around the corner to escape her puck-shaped predator. As she turned the sharp left she bumped noggins with her tangerine-coloured comrade, Clyde…. at least she thought it was Clyde. For reasons unexplained, the four of them all turned the colour of mystique’s bangin’ sweater hams whenever “Round Yella” got on the gear. She regained her composure, groggily looked up and became instantly mortified upon witnessing Clyde’s ectoplasm dripping from the corners of her pursuer’s toothless food hole. She fled the scene faster than a teenager could get an erection, and found herself lost in the death maze once again, however the sounds of “wakka wakka wakka” could always be heard in the distance. “Ayyyeeeee!” came the blood-curdled shriek of Blinky…. and then….. there was silence. The realisation that she was all alone had sunk in harder than the Gummi De Milo in Ashely the babysitter's booty. She accepted defeat and stood at the centre of the labyrinth, when a shadow on the north wall signalled the advent of the buttery behemoth. Emerging from the darkened corner came the death-dealers; Fozzy Bear, riding side-saddle atop of Pacman. The unification of “wakka wakka” and “wakka wakka wakka” had proven too much for the motley crew of would be hunters. As Pinky drew her last breath, a slam on the tabletop pulled me out of my 8-bit trance. “Let’s go” whined Scrappy Doo “we’re gonna miss the first band”. I gladly obliged my protégé and together we descended the stairs into the Rancor’s pit.

My virgin outing to The Roller Den had me frothing at the mouth at just how good the room was. Beards and dreadlocks filled the space early which was filled with more hair than an Ewok village. Up on the stage, BONEZ tried their hardest to woo the early birds. I immediately associated the guitarist and bassist with the Wet Bandits from Home Alone due to their matching fingerless gloves. The group exude a classic pub rock sound, drawing on influences such as The Doors and Santana. Vocalist Tomy Gray had the eyes and intensity of Mick Jagger but without any of the stage room to cut sick. He was entertaining in his own right but it was the bassist who garnered the majority of my attention. His fat rumbling tones and bluesy walking bass really played a vital role in the overall punch delivered by the group. The Damien Sandow look-a-like also provided some surprisingly passable impromptu trumpet into the fold which brought joy to the room in a way that only an animated Disney movie could. I wish I had more to write but I only managed to catch the last three songs from the set. My only beef was that the backing vocals were completely lost in the mix but other than that, the music was good for what it was.

SORCERY hit the ground running to deliver a feisty mix of thrash, punk and metal onto the ever-growing crowd. The high-pitched, fast-paced screams of the vocalist (who I’ll refer to as Ryan from The OC as I was unable to locate any sort of webpage for the band) complimented the brutal distorted tones of Treebeard the bassist, Blackbeard the guitarist and Nobeard the second guitarist. Despite dressing like Oz’s band from Buffy, I actually really dug these guys. Ryan from The OC is a natural frontman who utilizes an “I don’t care” attitude to his performance in the same vein as Julian Casablancas of The Strokes. He mussed his hair in time to the music and his eyes were constantly rolling towards the back of their sockets, enriching the performance ten-fold. Amidst all the trash came an incredibly heavy breakdown reminiscent of the “Shut up! I’ll fuck you up!” section of Korn’s “Right Now” which had my head bouncing around like those of the Stark family. Definitely a group to keep on your radars.

Sydney six-piece BLACKBIRD came out of the gates strong with their take on sixties inspired rock n roll. All three guitarists and the bassist playing the exact same riff really gave the genesis of the set a sense of turgid beefiness. The “oomf” quickly wore off however once I realised that I was watching a jam session rather than a performance. Apart from the bassist, not one member of the band acknowledged that the crowd was even there. Awkward silence filled the space between every song. No “Hi. We’re Blackbird”. No “Thankyou for coming out”. No “This is our last song”. No banter. Nothing.  Everyone adopted the shoegazer stance and the vocalist took it one step further by having his back to us the entire set. Add to this his out of tune singing/wailing which was unsuccessfully masked by copious amounts of reverb. One of the guitarists was behind a pole the whole performance and the truth of the matter is, they might as well have all been there. Towards the end of the set the drummer developed an excitement level rivalling that of Augustus Gloop upon seeing the chocolate waterfall for the first time, but it was too little, too late. The music was solid but became very repetitive, very quickly. Quite frankly, I was insulted they played third.

“Gloriously insane” best describes the stage presence of post-hardcore outfit THE BERKSHIRE HUNTING CLUB. Guitarist Nick Ryan had swindled me out of my hard earned money in a game of Connect Four at the merch stand. The rules were simple; if you win, you get free merch. If you lose, you HAVE TO buy it. It’s a brilliant piece of interactive marketing which sets the lads apart from other bands before they even hit the stage. Needless to say I lost the game (as well as the shirt on the way home). Moving the events back to the stage, Berkshire are fucking insane live and will have you scrambling to find your children (or someone else’s children) to protect them. Vocalist Matt Browne is the spitting image of Lips from The Electric Mayhem and performs with the insanity of Cyprus Hill’s collective membranes. Every inch of his body makes contact with some part of the floor throughout the set with band members (and audience members) attacking the man as he performs. Whether it be a push, a tackle, a thrown cup or a piggy back, Browne welcomes the interaction and incorporates it into his performance (usually through reciprocation of the attack). Top-lip moustache advocate Rob Hudson looks half the age of the rest of the band but his on-stage demeanour interlocks with Browne’s like Jim’s dick in a warm apple pie. He utilizes a butt-tonne of slides in his guitar style which only enhances the abrasiveness of the groups already grating post-hardcore sound. Nick “Swindling Cunt” Ryan had his guitar strap so high that it looks as though he is holding a rifle as he plays. Male model and bassist Mitch Antman has no aesthetic business being up on stage and should be ashamed for making everyone else look ugly. Up the back of the dais, Ryan Wakeling pounds away at his kit like a kid playing whack-a-mole. His high-vis pumpkin coloured beanie never leaving the comfort of his mathematically programmed head. The bands unapologetically vicious performance won more than a few hearts tonight and if the music didn’t, then the mouth-to-mouth beer exchange between Browne and Ryan did. To my horror, every person on-stage threw their instruments around with the ferocity of a PMS’ing Sheila Broflofski and were actively trying to break their guitars. As my little sugar biscuit so elegantly put it “It’s so refreshing to see a band that isn’t so precious about their gear and merchandise” and I couldn’t agree more. The Berkshire Hunting Club are one of Australia’s best keep secrets. Jump on this bandwagon now so you can be that guy in five years’ time who says “I knew them before they were famous”.

Melbourne two-piece electro-rock outfit THE STIFFYS were the strangest addition to the bill but holy balls did they get the room moving. Two men dressed in matching Donald Duck sailor outfits (except with pants) managed to deliver a sound bigger than the first three bands combined. I’m reminded of artists such as The Presets and Regurgitator as bassist/vocalist Jason Leigh grinded away at his instrument in his almost knee-high socks. Providing pitch perfect harmonies on the drums was Jared Leto impersonator Adam Stagg. Together these two juggernauts managed to get the majority of the room dancing and singing along to their infectious tunes. It was my first listening of these guys and I already knew the songs by the end of the set. Leigh’s colossal, rumbling bass tones sounded as if they were produced by an entire orchestra made up entirely of bass guitars amplified through the vocal chords of Michael Clarke Duncan and James Earl Jones, and if that doesn’t suck you in, his flamboyant over-the-top performance will. Leigh’s brilliant use of loops and the fact that some dude brought a boogie board on-stage and used it to ride the crowd waves, ensured that every smile in the room joined together like a chain of paper clips. Grooves inspired by Jimi Hendrix’s “Fire” turn up the intensity to eleven as tracks such as “Sexy Lemonade” make you reach for a bottle of Gatorade to avoid dying of dehydration. I was so impressed by these guys that I bought a cd (which I also lost on the way home) a light blue shirt which I’ll never wear) and a branded sailors cap (which I’ll wear every day for the rest of my life). At the risk of stating the obvious, I have a stiffy for The Stiffys.

The headliner were a band I had heard a lot about but had never seen. More importantly I had heard a lot about the live performance. Sydney foursome GAY PARIS didn’t hit the stage until after midnight but that only made the brood of punters hungrier. My first observation of the hirsute group was that the mix was way too loud and made it very hard to hear a lot of the set. Luke Monk’s unique vocals are a combination of Bobcat Goldthwait and Spider One of Powerman 5000. The music had a bluesy, swamp-rock kinda feel to it but with a bottle of bourbon poured into every track to give it a sexy modern tinge. Despite the sound being a bit lacklustre, Gay Paris more than made up for it with their insane live performance. There was more beard on-stage than a ZZ Top expo and every member performed as if the throng of zombies were there to see them, and them alone. Guitarist Lachlan Marks rode atop the shoulders of a groupie and shredded his way through the crowd whilst his sweaty bratwurst brushed up against the back of the mules’ neck. Monk couldn’t resist the urge to crowd surf but whilst on stage he held out his arms in an effort to look as big as possible and to scare away any bears that might attack. Bassist Dean Podmore couldn’t contain his excitement between each song to provide the comic relief of the night. The backing vocals from himself and Marks brought an excellent element of old-school cool from the punk and ska bands of the early nineties. The audience were more volatile than a Diet Coke that had just had a Mentos dumped in it. Bodies were flying everywhere and no matter where I stood in the room, I was getting injured. Towards the back end of the set, half the audience had managed to get up on stage only to fail miserably at crowd surfing. The group received a thunderous ovation at the conclusion of their set which led to a gratuitous encore. I opted to retreat to the back of the room for this  to nurse the multitude of blisters I had amassed in the mosh. Was the sound good? No, but in the end it didn’t matter one iota. I’ll be counting down the days for a second chance to catch these Sydney-siders again so they can hopefully make me ruin a pair of my pants with butt-fuckingly good clarity of sound.

One gig a month helps keep the scene alive. Also buy some fucking merch while you’re there you cheap bastards. Another successful gig means another huge win for live music.

Don’t be a dick, Sydney! Support the music scene.

Joshua Towney

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