SHAME. The Tote Hotel, Melbourne. 08-02-2018.


Words Mark Ireland.

Before Shame even landed in Australia, they had a hell of a reputation but with enough secrecy to still have some surprises up their sleeves. They have been heavily lauded in the British and American music press, they tore Glastonbury apart last year and punched Laneway Festival so hard it was coughing up blood, so when they landed at The Tote the energy of the band and the crowd was salacious, you could feel the condensation just dripping from the ceiling.

Lead singer Charlie Steen hulked about the stage staring down the crowd, you felt like he was going to attack at any point, but this is all stage persona.

When they burst into the single ‘The Lick’ and the opening lyric is “So in the past week I’ve made several trips to the gynaecologists”, you know the boys tongues are firmly planted in their cheek, they wear their influences heavily on their sleeves, The Fall, Eddy Current. Steen has the Mark E Smith’s venomous lyric spit combined with Brenden Huntley’s manic dance moves. The song ‘Friction’ with it’s heavy chiming guitars flogs the crowd around the head and induces aural comas. The entire pub is transfixed, a bomb could have gone off and the crowd wouldn’t have noticed in the slightest, that’s how enigmatic they were.

All the boys in the band are about 19 years old, with enough piss and vinegar in the system to hate the world and take on the world all at the same time.

‘God Hole’ is another slab of post punk darkness, when the band get to the chorus “Shake Me Up”, it’s like there is an exorcism being performed on stage, Steen is screaming from every cell in his body. Performances like this are cathartic for the audience as well as the band, to see something this raw and brutal really gives you insight into the passion a band puts into their performances and how much of a connection they want to make with the crowd, this kind of energy can’t be faked.

About half way through the gig Steen launched himself into the crowd, which amped everyone up even more. It was as close to combustion to what I’ve ever experienced at the Tote.

Shame have kicked the gate down, trashed the house, turned the stereo up and pissed off the neighbours. After tonight’s performance I have no doubt this will be the last time I will see them in a small venue like The Tote. They’ve thrown petrol all over themselves, now they’re just waiting to explode.