The first time I ever saw the Gooch Palms was revolutionary. It was early October 2013, two days before my HSC Exams were to begin. It was a chilly Friday night, and myself and a good mate decided to head to the Cross and watch the Goochies launch their debut album ‘Novo’s’, aptly named after their hometown, Newcastle.
I had all the Gooch Palms’ material, from their early “Cucarachas” and ‘R U 4 Sirius’ 7″s, to their recently released record. I loved listening to this band, their catchy-as-hell chorus’ mixed with sweeter-than-rainbow punk rock. It was authentic, and vibrant, electric and eclectic. From their early, lo-fi recordings that were akin to balls-out (literally) Ramones rip-offs, and their synthier, DEVO side (“Participant No. 91”), to the power ballads of “You” and “Don’t Cry”, to the straight up garage ragers that should have festival crowds panting with joy in a few years time…The Gooch Palms have it all. And I had it all. I was so proud.
Back to the show…being just a mere few days before the most IMPORTANT EXAMS OF MY LIFE, I got insanely drunk. I didn’t know anyone at the show, and I felt out of place, and awkward. I wasn’t a punk, or a cool music dude. I was a nerd from a private school who just happened to hijack into the awesomeness of Anti-Fade Records’ discography. How the fuck was I allowed to enjoy something this special? A rowdy pub in the Cross, filled to the brim with deadset legends and talent bouncing from wall-to-wall was no place for a fucking blogger.
But you know what? The Gooch Palms changed that. They changed everything. For an 18 year old kid who’s previous most punk experience was watching Fucked Up perform with The Foo Fighters, The Gooch Palms showcased something insanely formative to my growth as a lover of punk rock and Australia’s wealth of talent. THEY DIDN’T CARE! They performed to a heaving crowd with the sort of enthusiasm that can only be described as biblical. Leroy spat on his tattooed chest with glee, and Kat smiled from behind her pink ‘do with beaming joy. They threw themselves into their music, and it made you want to throw yourself into it just as much as they did.
During “We Get By”, a salivatingly, pants-shittingly good track, as I thrashed at the front with reckless abandon, Leroy pulled me onto the stage. I accidently stepped on his pedals, and panic and grief struck my heart. Leroy didn’t give a shit. “Dance! Dance, man!”. I took off with something that can only be described as somewhere between Elvis Presley suffering a stroke and a guy at a Slayer concert. It was a fucked up heap of limbs, but no one cared, and my grin was bigger than anyone else.
And of course, there was Leroy’s nudity, an aspect that has now become one of the most recognised and anticipated aspects of The Gooch Palms’ live show. Some folks might see it as an excuse, or antic, trying to cover up bad music, but in fact, it is the opposite. It’s an accentuation of the madness and brilliance of this band. A garage band that doesn’t give a fuck, and in doing so, gives so many fucks.
For those who don’t know, The Gooch Palms are moving to America. Take a moment, it’s ok, I’ll wait. Shit, just typing this makes a single tear roll down my cheek like I’m in a goddamn Keep America Beautiful commercial. But really, it’s for the best. We don’t deserve a band like this, a band that can be so consistently good every time one sees them live. Two folks who care about each other, punk rockers nicer than most grandmothers. Two legends who know how to meld rock ‘n’ roll and pop together in a way that hasn’t been seen since Cheap Trick were at the top of their game.
The Gooch Palms have grown since that first fateful night. They’ve gone from playing support slots at midnight in Frankie’s, to being one of Australia’s most revered and beloved rock ‘n’ roll acts. They got matching uniforms, toured America, and Leroy got a green tinge to his mullet. I’ve grown as well. I’ve learnt to try to not be such a fuckwit, to go to as many shows as possible, and to try and be a more excellent human being. But no matter how much I try, I probably won’t live up to legend-itude of The Gooch Palms.
The Gooch Palms play their final shows this weekend, playing in Newcastle this Friday, and Sydney on Saturday. Proven legends Straight Arrows are main support for both shows, whilst deadset heroes The Sufferjets and newbies Raave Tapes support in Newy, and shred magicians Los Tones play in Sydney.
If you see Kat or Leroy around, go up, hug them, and wish them well (and shove $50 in their hand, USA is xpensive). It’s gonna be a tough year without knowing there’s a Goochies show around the corner for all hell to break loose. But we wish them well, and hope that the Yanks get to experience The Gooch Palms for the first time in exactly the same way I did, as a cerebral and unforgettable force of garage punk. Adios to one of my favourite bands. Adios to one of your favourite bands. See y’all at the shows!