Gig Review: The Goon Sax

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Saturday, April 2nd @ Newtown Social Club

I was a loser in high school, a big time dork. I look back on those days, and hang my head in shame. Every morning I wake up and check the Internet to make sure that some regrettable photo from that period hasn’t surfaced in a mission to ruin my life. I live with caution, certain that it’s only a matter of time before people realise that, at 15 years old, I was the biggest Red Hot Chili Peppers fan and argued with my parents over getting the lyrics to “Dani California” permanently inked to my skin.

Which is why, when I look at The Goon Sax, a bunch of 17 and 18 year olds from Brisbane, I instantly become consumed with jealousy. They’re playing after FLOWERTRUCK, who are essentially Sydney’s gatekeepers of guitar pop, an Edwyn Collins/David Byrne amalgamation from heaven. FLOWERTRUCK have just put on a hell of a show, not exactly something you’d jump at the chance to follow. But before The Goon Sax have played a note, before they’ve even made a gesture, I know that they are the coolest people I’ve ever seen in my life, and that they’re about to play something very memorable. There’s a casual but inviting way to how they stand on stage that speaks of nervous anticipation. I’ve seen so many bands get up at the NSC looking bored or dismissive, and the novelty of The Goon Sax’s quiet excitement doesn’t just make them interesting, it makes them far cooler than they already are. And that’s all before they’ve even started strumming.

Musically, The Goon Sax have taken jangle-pop, and applied a level of self-awareness, self-deprecation and affable charm that has evolved the genre. There’s no obvious allusions to their forebearers, nor the modern champions of the genre like Twerps, Dick Diver and The Ocean Party. They stand apart, spinning seemingly mundane topics into compulsive stories, which spill from the stage and directly into your gaping mouth. These yarns – simple, scratchy and flawed – are wrought directly from the teenage experience; but the real sucker punch is that these songs speak to any age, without relying on some sense of nostalgia in the lyrics or music. It just speaks to the fact that The Goon Sax are really fucking amazing songwriters, who actually get pop music, far more than I ever will. It’s only when frontmen Louis Forster and James Harrison switch instruments that you’re pulled out of the spell, and it once again dawns on you that, holy shit, I will never be as cool as the people I am watching right now.

Although an hour set might have been a bit ambitious (maybe that’s just me – I love a good short and sweet set), the performance never felt like it dragged. There were lulls, sure, but The Goon Sax have a talent for always being able to reset the audience’s interest, whether it be through one of their instant-classic singles, such as “Boyfriend” and “Sometimes Accidentally”, or hidden gems from their debut album, like the closer “Ice Cream (On My Own)”. Or maybe it was their attitude that made them so loveable; the fact that, whenever you zoned in on the band, you could see a real love for what they were doing, with none of the ego or cynicism that usually coats other guitar pop bands onstage. That kind of genuine and unpretentious behaviour is infectious, and gives all the more reason to become completely and utterly infatuated with this band.

As soon as The Goon Sax left the stage, there was nothing left to do but swear a blood oath to them. The Goon Sax have gone from being yet another fantastic Brisbane band, to one of my favourites in the country. I may be consumed by jealousy at their monstrous coolness, but the music and show is too good to bite a thumb at. Folks, here’s some sound advice: see the show, buy the record, and learn a thing or two from these bloody geniuses.

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