Words Joel Parnell.
A cloud of smoke hovered over The Bendigo Hotel on the night of April 4th as The Party Gods smiled on the benevolent creatures gathered inside and chucked shakkas in approval of what was going down.
No, the bathroom had not been set on fire again. The occasion was to be marked by something far more righteous: The Bennies 420 Super Smoke Out!
First off I’ve got to say that I completely missed opening hip hop act Big_Rimz420. The Metro train system had failed me and I arrived a few minutes after they’d finished. Sorry guys, I’m sure you were sick. Next time.
The band with the coolest name ever, Weedy Gonzalez, set an ominous tone as they took the stage amid candle-lit amps and a haze of eerie green fog. As the band burned slowly through such doom laden classics as ‘Song 2’, ‘Song 4’, ‘Song 3’, ‘Song 1’ and the brand new ‘Song 5’, great wofts of pungent smoke billowed from deep in the crowd, setting off the venues seemingly redundant smoke alarms. Spliffs were shared openly between audience and band until all I could see was a blur of smoke and green lights. Despite having only played a handful of shows, Weedy G are tight as a nuns vajayjay and have quickly garnered a reputation as one of Melbourne’s most solid troops of smoked out doom-mongers. Keep an eye on this bunch.
The next act to hit the stage were Curse Ov Dialect and they were freaky as heck. One of them was wrapped in what looked like VHS tape and wearing some kind of bizarre, bird-like mask. Another dude had caked his face with some kind of crusty green shit that looked like it’s not meant to go on your face. It was all a bit strange and frightening. They were a trip-hop act and actually weren’t too bad but this is a bloody rock website and I’m not here to talk about trip-hop. Moving on…
MESA COSA! Watching these guys perform gives you the feeling that you’re taking part in something much larger than life. This band grabs you right from the get go with an enigmatic energy that draws you in and whispers cosmic secrets in Spanish to your untapped, infinite spiritual capacity. Obviously, by this point in the night I was pretty toasted. Saxophonist Lloyd walks on stage with three doobies stuffed in his gob and reluctantly shares them amongst the band. Guitarist turned tambourinist Chris piffs wads of Chinese cash into the crowd and declares that using them to roll joints will ensure great riches in the afterlife. Ian struggles to play through the set after almost instantly breaking a string on his guitar. Bassist / Shaman Marty interjects between songs with “I’m so fucking high right now. No, I can’t play this song. This is bullshit.” as frontmexican Pablo petitions the sold out crowd to roll some more joints and send them his way. This is how rock and roll ought to be: frantic, urgent, fun, ridiculous and with all the purpose and determination of a speeding bullet. By the third song of their set the crowd is fucking wild, stage diving and taking out foldbacks in their wake. As Pablo says his ‘Thank you’ and ‘Goodbye’s’, drummer Steve assures him that they’re only halfway through the set and must go on.
“What? The set isn’t over?”
Pablo straps his guitar back on and the band tear through the remainder of their set, descending into mad chaos. Chris cowabungas his way into the surf as Pablo fucks the mic stand with his guitar. Drums and bass pounding away at a steady rhythm as the rest of the band screech and holler like a train that runs out of control despite having been physically attached to the tracks. The set ends with Pablo wedging his guitar into the ceiling and walking off stage. Fucking brilliant.
As you can imagine, by the time The Bennies hit the stage the place was at absolute capacity. Armed with their honourary fifth member, DJ Snesmega, the funnest band in the world broke out the creme of their reggae infused musical crop. Radiating high levels of good vibes, frontman Anty initiates crowd singalongs to ‘Let’s Go Get Stoned’, ‘Anywhere You Wanna Go’, ‘Hold On’ and ‘Knights Forever’, augmented with the classic Aussie rock refrain “No way! Get fucked! Fuck off!”. It wasn’t all ‘Rainbows In Space’ though, the band had chosen this occasion especially to unveil a new track they’d written called ‘Legalise But Don’t Tax’. The Bennies latest composition is an upbeat reggae jam with a straightforward message: “One thing we need / One thing we need / Open up your mind and fuckin’ legalise weed” . ‘Heavy Disco’, from the bands most recent EP of the same title, sees the audience break out into full surf mode. Everyone is surprisingly energetic despite having spent the entire night getting blazed as shit. As the stoned masses protest the idea that The Bennies might actually stop playing, the band give them a vote: “Ok we’ll do one more. Do you want us to play Highrider or Frankston Girls?” ….
“I think that’s Frankston Girls!”
I left the venue high as a kite and talked about the golden era of pro wrestling for the entire ride home.
Have a listen to The Bennies below!