Saturday, 4th July @ Brighton Up Bar
The Standard is dead. The Lansdowne is dead. The Imperial is dead. All the venues where bands could cut their teeth in moderate rooms before lambasting the Enmore Theatre 12 months down the track – deader than my dreams. It’s not all doom ‘n’ gloom, but. There’s still a few champions out there. A few pockets of beer-soaked mayhem, where the crowds sing with dement, and the bands play with broken guitars and wonky keyboards. Where the beer is relatively cheap, and the dickheads are minimal. And that place celebrated it’s 3rd bloody birthday on Saturday.
I’ve swooned about the Bells of Death before, and that’s because they’re incredible. This – THIS – is a band, I tells ya. Get around, hear them, LISTEN TO THEM. They serenade a packed room with songs equally influenced by stony pre-Brit Pop (New Order, Stone Roses) as they are the finest exports of Brooklyn (Wild Nothing, DIIV). They’re a special breed, five young guns who put everything into their performance, swelling at their peaks and bottoming out in their troughs. They lower a fierce grip over the audience, belting through a manic set, including the highlight of “You, Me & Everyone In Between”. Fair warning, you’re gonna be giving this a thrashing if you press play. And you’ll also be desperate to get along to catch them. The real deal, mates, the real deal.
The Pinheads follow with a set of deep-fried Nuggets rock ‘n’ roll. All seven members are in attendance, and the shedding of layers is imminent. This shit is sweaty, sweatier than an American preparing to tell you why the USA is way goddamn better than your shithole. The Pinheads are deep fried garage rock, hurtling through a tight, loud set of two minute rip snorters. Frontman Jez is particularly admirable, a bopping mass of hair and muscle who desperately wants to fuse the flamboyance of Marc Bolan with the reckless endangerment of Iggy Pop. The man is everywhere, soaring over the top of his band’s increasingly intense shenanigans.
Conquering the stage soon after are everyone’s favourite local troupe Big White – the five piece immediately set about laying down some of the most romantic guitar pop songs to worm their way into the ears of every audience member. A conglomeration of all the best pop bands in Sydney (High-tails, Jack & Elmo, New Lovers, Cody Munroe Moore etc.) Big White were always going to be doing fantastic things…but this was something else! We’re chowing down on their songs like it’s a $5 schnitty deal. The tri-guitar attack is heavenly, and songs like “You Know I Love You”, “Dinosaur City” and “EOFY” are pop sluggers, and force every single mop of hair in the room to bounce like they had just discovered the joy of the pogostick for the first time. Seeing Big White was just a really happy experience for everyone involved, off-kilter excellence served on a beer-soaked, joy-drenched platter. Even those two grumpy shits from The Muppets would’ve been giving two thumbs up!
Melbourne’s Mangelwurzel came next…look, A for effort. They’re obviously making the exact type of music that they want to make, a weird sort of gremlin punk. But it just didn’t seem to be anyone’s thing. Sax and guitars…you’re getting dangerously close to ska, the worst genre of all time. It was a cool thing to watch, but it was a burger filled with exotic ingredients that didn’t really make up for the absence of the basics. Why add radishes and caviar when you’re missing the burger patty?
Brisbane’s The Creases closed out the night. The eyelids are closing, the mouths are developing into yawns, everyone’s checking their watches a bit more frequently. But these guys, they knew bring it all back into the party gear. They’re a group bound for the biggest of things, that’s obvious enough to see. They write excellent songs, they play with enthusiasm, they’ve got weird earrings. It’s the triple threat.
Seriously though, go and check out The Creases. They feel like a pretty big band, but ya know, some are a bit slow on the uptake. An amalgamation of Primary Colours-era The Horrors, The Vaccines, Palma Violets…the NME hit-list really…it was a set of shimmering, invigorating guitar pop that had the floorboards creaking and the kids violently excited. Someone knocked my beer, and I wasn’t even that mad. Now that’s an accomplishment and a half. Get around The Creases!
There have been some good times had at Brighton Up Bar. Excellent times, quiet times, disgusting times where my head has been so repugnant that it’s a surprise they let me in the place/palace. The fact that little 120 cap room hunkered down on the Hyde end of Oxford has been home to so many excellent gigs is no mean feat. From Donny B to Ms Barnett, all the best come through Brighton Up’s precarious staircase, and proceed to demolish the place. Such was the case this night, and such will the case be on many nights to be. This esteemed little venue has plenty of life left, and love to give, so get the fuck down and watch a band!