It was a cool winter’s evening when I coaxed my 17 year old Holden Commodore to life and my night began. It was drizzling slightly when I arrived at Callum’s house in preparation for our evening at the Corner Hotel. The passage of time and beer down Callum’s eager throat soon meant it was time to depart. I had contracted an illness earlier in the week and my lungs wheezed but my eagerness was not dampened. As the rain began to fall as we drove up Swan street, I had to enlist Callum to manually yank the windscreen wipers as they struggled to complete an entire wipe across the windscreen. As he leant out the window, assualted by rain and wind I reflected that perhaps it was time to investigate why the windscreen wipers weren’t working, although the entire incident was nonetheless amusing . Having survived the harrowing ride from Hawthorn to Richmond we descended upon the Corner Hotel like the rest of the huddling masses seeking warmth and musical gratification.
DZ Deathrays appeared on stage as I drained my first deliciously non-alcoholic Coca-Cola of the evening and the suprisingly loud duo attacked the stage with syncopated drum rhythms and piercing guitars. The two Brisbane boys wore wild, messy and dark hair, moving with no intent but to make noise. Their sounds tore across the room, reverberating and forcing me to pay attention. Their self-styled genre “thrash-pop” suited me perfectly, rousing my head to beat along with rapid raging drums. Beer bottles were held up in time with the crashing guitar lines and seductively aggressive vocals. The band were raw and unpolished, energetic and loud; almost the perfect mix of control and discordant abandon. Black and white the stage flashed as they finished their set, leaving me wanting more.
Children Collide wandered onto the stage, smiling, nonchalantly acknowledging the crowd. The lead singer had his hair shorn close to his skull and rough stubble growing around his face, making him look like a cross between a school boy and drug addled adolescent. Which is probably an accurate description of the most of the crowd at the same time. The crowd bounced and swayed and heaved at the command of the guitar and drumkit, obeying their shifts from pop-punk hype to post-grunge anger throughout the set. The screaming crowd reached its pinnacle and the set began, guitar and drums and bass at its most raw and brilliant; with energy and attack. “Fuck off mate, I said no requests” Johnny spoke softly into the microphone, the arrogant smile of punk rock crossing his lips. I was hooked, banging my head as the verse-chorus-verse structure I am such a sucker for overtook me.
Photo Courtesy of FasterLouder
The drunk man stumbled in front of me, unsteady under the weight of his own self-uindulgence and alcohol abuse. He wore a green jacket, cut roughly at the edges and zipped to his throat, his torso purtruding out in front of him giving the image of an overgrown pig sitting on its haunches. Without condemning him, it being the first in a long many gigs at which I had been completely sober, I made efforts to deftly avoid his cumbersome and large frame which lurched from one side to another, apparently without any sense of personal space or relation to the music on the stage. The skinny man with large eyes and a shaved head behind us however felt it more appropriate to tap the drunkard on the shoulder and watch his vague head rotation, delayed and confused he would stare for a minute then reluctantly return to face the stage. His attention was directed to nothing, his sweaty red and white face consumed by a blank expression of hopelessness, a pathetic figure overtaken by an inestimable amount of Candian Club in a can. It was a sight to behold, but a sight not at all uncommon in this darkened room on a Saturday night in Melbourne.
Farwell Rocketship, My Eagle, Social Currency and Jellylegs all had the crowd chanting in all their intoxicated glory, bodies with heads screaming lyrics, floating across the top of dozens of arms in the quickly changing light. A personal favourite of mine Economy was played, Johnny abruptly screaming “Go…….Stop” with all his might as the drumkit rallied in the background.
“Your loveless” Johnny crooned, holding the note with the crowd and sending a forlorn melancholoy across the Corner, a song in which he sounds desolate, his lyrics coated in a despair and resignation as the guitar chords slowly seep over the top and drown out anything else. It was at this point that violence decided to rear its ever-present head and attack the peaceful drunken haze in which I stood. The drunk man suddenly appeared in the corner of my eye with his arm firmly around the skinny man’s neck. The severity of his gaze and resistance to the overtures of his friends decried his intent. As I wrapped my hands around his biceps I pulled him towards me. I stumbled backwards, I felt him struggle in anger and determination. The skinny man squirmed but could not break free. Eventually there were five other bodies trying to separate the two. The lights flashed on stage and the song peaked, a mass of arms in front of us swaying to the slow groove of Children Collide’s most popular single. Finally the men separated, neither satisfied but the rest of us relieved to return our attention to the band. The drummer’s formerly slick hair now fell obtrusively across his forehead as he concentrated, the two men with guitars standing out like statues guarding the drum riser.
The cacophy of quickly changing drum rhythm, heavily distorted guitars screaming, wailing, screeching as the guitarist and bassist careened across the stage at the end of the set was brilliant. All I could do appreciate the sheer brilliance and quite frankly balls of ending the entire performace with such a heavy and reasonably obscure track Fire Engine. It is very reminisent of early Nirvana circa In Utero which is obviously what won me over, and a very satisfying closer to a very eventful and entertaining performace.