Words Joel Parnell.
Photos Daniel Oh – Criminal Indifference.
It was freezing cold and pissing down rain as I made the familiar journey up Johnston Street to The Tote on April 25th. Keen gig goers had already begun to queue outside the door to the band room as a soundchecking Flour buzzed, hissed and thumped from inside…
“This song is called Feral Sow, it’s about… umm.. I dunno…” drawls the bands bassist/vocalist as Flour tear into the B Side of their latest 7 inch. This band bleeds old school punk rock energy and even bicker on stage like an early Ramones “Ok, we’re gonna play one more because Steve is all out of rock and roll for tonight. He needs more speed.” Testament to Flours rapidly growing popularity, The Tote band room was more or less completely full by the end of their set. They finished with their latest single ‘Silverspoon’ for which they’ve just dropped a killer new music video. I actually reviewed Flour playing live a couple of months ago so I’ve already used up most of my clever things to say about them but they kick ass so go check them out.
Desert Highways’ very own Chainsaw Hookers were next to take the stage and kicked the evening into full stoner rock overdrive. Huge bass driven rhythms carry blistering guitar solos into cactus riddled hyperspace. I’m told their lead guitarist even built his own guitar, that’s rad. The highlight of their set would have to be their fuzzed out rendition of phallic anthem ‘Love Gun’ by KISS, which I felt encapsulated what this band is all about; serious, full blown rawk, dripping with cheese. In retrospect, it’s actually kind of ironic to have played a song about ejaculating at a show in which the headlining band is called The Hard Ons. Fuck yeah.
Tote legends Batpiss tore the roof off with their brand of frantic, manicdepressive scuzz fuzz. The Collingwood three piece are unapologetically brazen and as heavy as a peyote trip at a funeral. By this point in the night the crowd had drank all their timidness away and the front of the stage brimmed with punk rock enthusiasm and splashes of Poodles bourbons as he periodically jousted them in the air with approval.
Just as there is no smoke without fire, you don’t see a venue reach capacity while it’s pissing rain and howling wind outside without a damn tempting drawcard. Legendary NSW punks The Hard Ons brought the ruckus to a sold out Tote as they launched the shit out of their 11th studio album ‘Peel Me Like An Egg’. Experiencing the raw energy with which these guys perform makes it hard to believe this is a band who have been going since 1981. Conversely, it drives home the point that if you work really fucking hard for as long as it takes, you can be this good. Being an album launch, their set was mostly new stuff centered around the intense, hardcore punk area of The Hard Ons’ musical palette. Bassist Ray Ahn makes tongueincheek religious declarations throughout the set ”There is a God and he doesn’t like you because you’re an Atheist”. Guitarist/Vocalist Blackie just does his best to keep breathing between songs.
Gigs like these are what makes Melbourne one of the greatest places on Earth for live music. Let’s never take that for granted. Go see a band this weekend and do your bit in keeping our vibrant music scene alive and well.