Hey everyone, I’m Quintin, long time reader and first-time contributor to what I’m sure is everyone’s favorite grassroots music magazine.
I live in Brisbane, which means that I’m one of the lucky people out there who get to experience the wealth of gigs that we have on every weekend here, if you know where to look. More often than not, I’m out three nights back to back over a weekend, and almost always right there in the middle of it when things kicks off. If you hear that and already think that it sounds terribly unhealthy, you’re right. In the aftermath of the tale I’m about to tell you, it took three days for me to fully pull up.
Let’s get into it.
Night 1: King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard (Tivoli)
Shot By Will Johnstone
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard are a band that you’d have to have had your head in the sand to have not heard of. They’re a psychedelic, progressive, experimental, garage rock and heavy metal seven-piece with a distinctly punky ethos to their music and image. They’re amazingly prolific by the standards of their scene, once releasing five albums in the space of a year through their self-owned record label. Sometimes, you only so much have to blink for them to drop a new single with a full album release following soon after.
You might think this would lead to the dreaded problem of overexposure, but so far it seems, that by sticking to their guns and giving the fans what they want, they’ve a managed to cultivate that type of fervent fanbase many bands can only dream of.
They’ve sure as hell suckered me in.
It was a Thursday night and it wasn’t cheap to be there either. Yet that night, the night before and the last time they played in Brisbane (which was also a Thursday), the Tivoli was packed with a thousand other members of the weirdo swarm, who were practically foaming at the mouth for a chance to drink in the glory of the Gizz.
Kicking off the night was all-girl, garage-punk three-piece Bitch Diesel, who reportedly hail from far off galactic Melbourne according to their frontwoman Phoebe Taylor. While I’m not entirely sure that Melbourne is that far away from Brisbane in the grand scheme of things, they certainly do have some very intergalactic-influenced stage costumes which definitely caught the eye of the audience. They start with their slower, spacier songs but by the time they’re reaching the end of their set, their performance and songs pick up in pace and gain this anxious, frenetic sort of energy that I’ve only seen once before in the long since broken up Gametes.
Next up, were a band called Mild Life who are a case of exactly what it says on the tin, in a good way of course. Their sound, like the headliners tonight, can only be described as eclectic. They’re a 70’s influenced psychedelic-electronic-jazz-rock four-piece who deliver mostly chill and groovy instrumentals with only a few lyrics here and there. Their songs transition seamlessly into one another and you can hear every member perfectly, even in a live setting as loud as the Tivoli.
Finally, as the time neared ten, the seven members of King Gizzard took to the stage.
The audience and I are expecting them to play some new material, but we’re mistaken as to exactly how new it is. They start out the set with two pounding thrash metal tracks from their upcoming album Infest the Rats Nest that are yet to be released. They play Self-Immolate later on but rather than following it up with the other two singles off the upcoming album, we’re treated to yet another two new songs. Most of Fishing for Fishies makes it to the set list, from the earlier, very bluesy sounding tracks to the entirely electronic closing track Cyboogie. In-between all of this, we get parts of Altered Beast and two trilogy suites from Polygondwanaland and Nonagon Infinity. No microtonal tracks made it to the set, however much to everyone’s disappointment.
I’ve long come to the realisation that despite their prolific recorded discography, like many of their contemporaries, King Gizzard are at their best live. When King Gizz come together on stage, it’s almost always deafeningly loud and their songs are so multilayered, yet you can still hear each member almost perfectly. While their music may lose some of its intricacy live, it still has this amazing energy and depth to it such that you never actually feel like you’re missing out on anything. That’s something I’ll always find amazing considering there’s so much that could go wrong with seven people playing one continuous section of an album at an often-blistering pace.
A friend of mine (who’s basically the Human Blast Beat in his own band) says he suspects that the double kicks on their upcoming album are done live by alternating between the two drummers rather than having one or both of them do it. This would usually be confusing as hell to do, but Eric and Cav have been matching and mirroring each other’s actions for so long that it never becomes a problem during the show.
The crowd of course are loving every moment of it, switching between boogying to circle pits depending on the changing genres. Seeing a King Gizzard crowd match the brutality of those of the same metal bands who were pissed off at the Gizz for winning an ARIA for Best Metal Album is definitely a sight to see.
The fact that we’ve gotten to hear so much of an upcoming album tonight as well as the song Big Fig Wasp in place of the usually more popular People Vultures makes this set a memorable one for me. The crowd are going absolutely berserk as Gamma Knife peaks in its intensity. The set properly closes out however with the very mellow and subdued The Wheel. A few of us cry for an encore afterwards but most of us seem to realise that an hour and a half set is plenty for tonight. Soon enough, the crowd disperses out into the rainy Brisbane night and I limp home with the last few chords of the show still ringing in my ears.
Night Two: Pandamic (Greaser Bar)
Alright, I should probably preface this part with a disclaimer that I’m a very biased when it comes to Pandamic so take everything I say with a grain of salt. At the same time, I take the piss out of them all the time too because we go way back at this point.
Pandamic originally hail from the town of Rockhampton in regional Queensland, and my first exposure to them was actually through a few friends of mine who moved from up that way down to Brisbane. A lot of people from Rocky and surrounding towns look up to them for being the first in a long time to get the chance to move to the big city and really make a go of their music.
Rhys (Guitar/Vocals) and Rangi (Drums) go way back but they met Matt (Bass/Backing vocals) down here in god’s country. They’re signed to Ratbag Records, founded by Brisbane drug-punk derros Dune Rats, which is how I first bumped into them because they were opening for a Dunies secret set at the Crowbar. Since then, I’ve seen them so many times that I’m being recognized tonight by crowd members from gigs that were quite literally years ago now.
It’s free entry and the venue is tiny for what’s set to be a very intimate show. There’s only a very small stage which is the same level as the audience here at the Greaser Bar. Both my friends in Whisky Grinn as well as Matt’s other band WALKEN have graced it in the past and it’s been a bit of a squeeze each time. The last time I was here, it was for the WALKEN drummer’s birthday, and many of us almost fell over the drum kit during their set. Mercifully we didn’t actually knock over anything while BJ played but Rangi won’t have so much luck tonight with the crowd.
Starting things out are Sunny Coast nineties revivalists Glasshouse. Their sound falls somewhere between Weezer and Nirvana and they’re all fairly young too, so you might also see a bit of Silverchair in them. If this sounds familiar to you, it’s because you could easily be reminded a bit of early Violent Soho as well. They play with a distorted, overdriven, fuzzy and sludgy style that I think many people in my scene will be quite familiar with.
They’re followed up by The Bonnie Doons, who are a surf-reggae- rock fusion band from right here in Brisbane. Fans of Ocean Alley and Lime Cordiale should feel right at home with their particular style of funky, groovy and melodic beach-rock.
Pandamic gear up and hit the stage just as the clock strikes ten thirty and immediately the room is thrown into chaos. The boys have a raucous indie rock sound that draws influences from grunge, skate-punk and metal. They’ve settled (however slightly) on a more stable sound recently, but Rangi’s mile-a-minute, relentless drumming (retained from his heavy metal roots) remains powerfully unique compared to the barebones beats of their Ratbag contemporaries.
Within the first few songs, the mic’s have been knocked around and fixed multiple times mid-song, Rhys has to change guitars mid-song too and Rangi is constantly having to steady his drums from the audience knocking into his kit as they fall onto the stage. There’s a good fifty of us at least crammed into a space not much bigger than a large living room and the crowd are going as hard as they can, narrowly avoiding taking out one of the band members with them at any given moment. At one point, Rangi’s drum kick breaks and Matt and Rhys to play us the Seinfeld Theme to keep us entertained. A certain member of the audience (who shall remain anonymous) tells Matt to play a WALKEN song too, something which Matt is not particularly impressed by.
Shot by Will Johnstone
Alongside the ever-present SAM, Archer and Broke, they play an old song or two as well as three new ones that most of the audience haven’t heard before. Not me but, I’ve listened to them a thousand times at this point and they’re not even out yet, although they will be very soon. When it comes to songwriting chops and lyricism, I’ve always considered Pandamic to be the best on their label by far. Their upcoming single Sweater sounds massive and matched with their hectic live shows, their next few gigs coming up are guaranteed to go down a treat. The crowd cry for an encore but Rhys eventually turns the chant into encouraging them to buy more merch ha-ha.
Shot by Will Johnstone
Alright at this point, I realise I’ve probably brushed over how much I’ve been drinking so far. I spewed right before the King Gizz set the previous night and the minute Pandamic are done playing, my stomach feels immediately unsettled from both beer bloat and how hard I’ve been going in the mosh. I’m not feeling my best, but there’s precious little happening afterwards so I don’t end up missing out on anything. Rhys and Matt both have a show with their other bands the night after and Rangi has his own life to attend to, so eventually me and my mates head off in two’s and three’s back home.
Night Three: VOIID DROOL EP Launch (Black Bear Lodge)
Yeah once again, I do have to declare that I’m biased here. I’ve seen VOIID over fourteen times in the space of two years, which their guitarist Kate McGuire reckons is most of the Brisbane gigs they’ve played. Well, all I have to say to that is “Damn, what a ride”.
VOIID are a fierce, all-femme four-piece from the heart of Brisbane, although their roots actually lie in Rockhampton, with their frontwoman Anji and Kate forming the band out of their bedrooms as teenagers. In a scene full of nineties revivalism, VOIID have drawn many comparisons to the band L7, an influence which they proudly wear on their sleeves. VOIID draw strength from their buzzsaw riffs and wailing vocals that immediately drew me in when I first heard them at the Miami Shark Bar what seems like long time ago now.
I’m wrecked from last night but I’m starting tonight early because I’m out for a friend’s 24th birthday, who’s quite close with the band herself. I’m already buzzing hard by the time we arrive and I’m only gonna up my inebriation as the night continues. The last time I was here was for the Concrete Surfers EP launch, who are good friends of VOIID, and I almost had a complete benzo-blackout afterwards.
Starting out the night are Glasshouse again, who I saw the night before, so I don’t have anything new to add here, aside from the fact they do a ripping cover of I Wanna Be Your Dog.
Next up are Being Jane Lane, who take their name from the best friend of nineties animated icon Daria. Fittingly, both Being Jane Lane and VOIID have covered You’re Standing On My Neck in the past. Being Jane Lane are another all-girl punk act although they’re all old enough to have actually grown up during the rise of grunge. They have an amazing level of energy and their sound is as rowdy and raucous as they are. Their frontwoman Teigan knows how to work the crowd and get everyone jumping.
There’s a bit of a break in-between them and when VOIID hit the stage and by the time they do, I’m coming up and I’m coming up hard. I’ve noticed there are often a lot of photographers buzzing around at the start of their sets, so the room never quite erupts into chaos immediately because we all seem nice enough to let them get some shots in. It’s only when the wall of fuzz blasts us all during their third song Vile that the crowd hits their stride and finally start to pick up in energy. Everyone in the front row is practically falling over the foldback speakers as the crowd from the mosh behind us are hurled forwards right into us.
Afterwards however, the girls are still demanding more energy from us, asking us to start going hog wild and furiously air punching at the ground ha-ha. This eventually leads to Teigan attempting to stage dive during the next song. Unfortunately, she gives the crowd almost zero warning when she does. One of my mates, bless his soul, is the only one who catches her, and he gets flattened for his efforts. Ah well, at least they both gave it a go, and both seem none worse for wear afterwards.
As well as playing the entirety of the new EP, VOIID also debut two new songs in their set, hopefully to be released very soon. They’re definitely a lot heavier and more discordant in sound than their previous material so I’m eager to hear more of them at future shows. The girls close off their set with Cheap Wine and Not for You which send the crowd absolutely wild in a flurry of flailing limbs. It all ends in a cacophonous finish of feedback and fuzz as the girls make a swift exit from the stage and out into the night.
Because it’s her birthday, VOIID and Being Jane Lane are kind enough to sign the set list for my mate. It’s just a shame that she ends up losing it later that night. It’s the thought that counts though ha-ha, thanks girls.
Shot by Milky Tingle
Alright, so this is the point where the gig ends, but I can assure you all that it’s where the night actually begins for all of us because everyone aside from Glasshouse ends up heading to the Crowbar, but hey that’s a whole different story entirely. I don’t get to sleep until well into the next day, so I think that tells you plenty.
The next day, I’m sleeping in ‘til the late arvo and despite my attempts to chill out, the writing bug hits me and I’m hard out writing this article. It hurts to have to sit up straight because of how many blows I’ve taken to my back and how much I’ve been headbanging. Thinking about my consumption too is enough to make me slightly nauseous on its own. It ends up taking three days for me to get back feeling a hundred percent. At this point, you’re probably wondering about the title to this article in light of what you’ve just read. Well, that’s what I told my boss when he asked me what I’d be doing with all my days off.
Quintin Low is a Brisbane based writer, promoter and music journalist. He is realeasing his first full novel 'Grit' quite soon. Stay up to date with our magazine or head over and follow @TrashYouth on instagram!