Words Anthony Moore.
Photos and Video Carbie Warbie.
I was ridiculously attending only my first River Rocks festival at the Barwon Club in Geelong last Saturday. It’s strange how you know some things will be amazing experiences but you have just never been before. 2015 was in fact the 8th River Rocks and it had sold out again, which was to be expected with such a massive line up including Cosmic Psychos, Meanies, Hoss, The Casanovas, Batpiss, Mustang, Legends of Motorsport and loads more.
I arrived before doors and even the empty layout impressed me, there was something in the air already and it felt exciting, like the first few Big Day Out’s in Sydney I’d attended, Alternative Nation, and Summersault.
I was asked to cover the day but I also work with, have worked with or are mates with some of bands on the line up, so it wouldn’t be fair to not state this up front. I will therefore do my best to be completely unbiased and give an accurate account of the day.
By far the best band of the day kicked things off. Drifter came out fuzz guns a blazing with wailing feedback throwing its arms crazily out amongst our heads and ringing our throats tight. It was awesome to hear them loud and pouring from the Barn stage through all the doors into the Barwon. Unfortunately though this was Drifter’s last gig ever. They will be greatly missed and have been a big part of Desert Highways. Rock In Peace Drifter!
Next was Sons Of Lee Marvin in side on the main stage and they reminded me somewhat of The Hives in their delivery and song writing style. Formed in 2004 and playing their self-described “Gonzo Rock”, with two drummers on stage, which in any band is pretty cool. I thought though they would’ve been playing something different each but they were playing along in time together. At first I wondered why do that, it’s not adding anything to the sound, but they were so goddamn tight it was unbelievable and that on its own is impressive, but the band’s sound also kicked arse as well!
The FckUps were relentless in delivering classic fuck you up, balls nailed to the wall, fist to the face and drag you behind a car for miles punk rock. I couldn’t understand a word though so the singer could very well have been screaming about butterflies and glitter covered Barbie Dolls for all I know, which would put an even more bizarre twist on their amazing set.
I love that sound that Dr. Colussus gets hammering like your head is exploding inside a boeing 747 engine. There’s so much awesome going on in this band, besides the obvious song topics all revolving around The Simpsons but singer / guitarist Dr. Jon and drummer Dr. Johnston make some massive sounds for a two piece.
Juliette Seizure and The Tremor Dolls are like The Spazzy’s beat up the Pink Ladies from Grease, I love the genre they have on their Facebook page – “DiaBEATes Bubblepunk Garage Power-Pop Partycore”. Flour are one of my favourite Melbourne bands at the moment, so much energy and fuck off we do this cause we love it rock’n’roll.
Things started to get hazy around here somewhere due to the alcohol consumption while Digger and The Pussycats were rockin the beer garden; Orb blowing eardrums on the main stage; Ausmuteants and Legends Of Motorsport are both always awesome but leave you wondering what the hell just happened; the reformed Mustang got compared to The Hellacopters a few times and had the barn stage going nuts; Joel Silbersher is such an amazing song writer, loved seeing Hoss again!
River Rocks made us feel like we were back in the ‘90s. Obviously the Meanies, Cosmic Psychos and Hoss were a big part of it, but the overall vibe of a small festival with people starting to pour in from the start, mates all hanging out and having a good time was what it was all about. No bullshit, just rock’n’roll! And rock’n’roll should always feel a little dangerous… and at River Rocks, it did! Batpiss played with black stockings on their heads and along with the ferocity of their songs, it kept us on edge as it felt like something might happen at any moment. Like a good thriller, edge of the seat kind of feeling due to the anticipation. During the Meanies set there were bodies everywhere, piled up on the front of the stage, bending and falling over one another, on top of the crowd, diving from the stage, doing somersaults on a sea of hands and getting feet caught in the ceiling lights. The mirror ball in the barn was swaying violently to and fro as limbs belted it stupid. As he played, bassist Wally Meanie swayed a little in time as he watched the lights in front of him nearly fall over. Security tried to hold the poles steady. There was no aggression; it was all in the name of absolutely kick arse music!
The entire day was full of it, from Grindhouse’s sexually charged garage punk rock with singer / guitarist Mick ‘Two Fingers’ Simpson regaling us in between songs about things that would make any whorehouse madam blush, to a proud moment, as I work with Hobo Magic and seeing a room full of punters with smiles wrapped right around their banging heads, then the rest of the festival having people come up and tell me that Hobo were one of the best bands of the day. Plus you know when it’s been a great set when you see Poodle’s dreads flying around down the front as he throws the horns holding a bourbon in each hand and without a care in the world about spilling them!
Cosmic Psychos are the epitome of what Aussie pub rock is all about; gutsy and loud with the first two songs about beer and going to the pub! Again like the Meanies set, things go out of control with punters collecting bruises to take home and wearing them like a badge of honour.
If you’ve been to a gig in Geelong, you’ve more than likely seen Benny get up on stage and sing along. He’s more of a celebrity than any band playing on the Barwon stage. He was up singing to Cosmic Psychos and knew all the words, singing to Batpiss, and he was even up singing with The Ruiner, and I have to admit I thought half the sounds that vocalist Jason V screams out were just noises, seems though there’s words to all those songs!
So many highlights of the day and I’ve already mentioned some of them. I have to add The Ruiner are always so huge with such a heavy wall of sound, thank you for finally finishing off my hearing for good and long before the day ended.
A massive shout out to the entire Barwon team, the bands and all the punters for making River Rocks one of the coolest festivals I’ve ever been to, again proving that these smaller, more personal festivals are the best way to go!
River Rocks 2016 LOOK OUT! I’M COMING!
River Rocks 2015 set times:
12:00 – 1:00 Cosmic Psychos
11:15 – 12:00 The Meanies
10:30 – 11:15 Hoss
9:50 – 10:30 The Casanovas
9:10 – 9:50 Batpiss
8:40 – 9:10 Mustang
8:00 – 8:40 Legends of Motorsport
7:20 – 8:00 Ausmuteants
6:50 – 7:20 The Ruiner
6:20 – 6:50 Twin Beasts
5:50 – 6:20 Orb
5:20 – 5:50 Hobo Magic
4:50 – 5:20 Digger and The Pussycats
4:20 – 4:50 Killer Birds
3:50 – 4:20 Grindhouse
3:20 – 3:50 Flour
2:50 – 3:20 The Gatwick Highlife
2:20 – 2:50 Juliette Seizure and The Tremor-Dolls
1:50 – 2:20 Dr. Colossus
1:20 – 1:50 The Fuck Ups
12:50 – 1:20 Sons Of Lee Marvin
12:20 – 12:50 Drifter