Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Snakes Run, Cut Sick and Gorilla Angreb at the Arthouse, 29-07-07

I'd been excited about the Friday night show for weeks beforehand – the Focus, Straightjacket Nation, Gorilla Angreb and Eddy Current Suppression Ring all on the one bill – but on Thursday night I break up with my girlfriend so it's pretty much a write-off. I split midway through Eddy Current's set, buffeted by bogans and annoyed by pretty much everybody. The same post-breakup grumpiness keeps me from making the trip out to Northcote for the all ages show the next afternoon, meaning that I once again miss Jacqui and Alicia's new band, whose name changes with every show and who are apparently amazing. Instead I stay home, listen to the Weakerthans and tinker with my bike. Somehow I manage to break a lockring. I must be angrier than I thought.

I've been watching the Tour de France pretty much religiously over the past three weeks, and am aware that tonight there is a very real chance that Australia's Cadel Evans will take the yellow jersey, setting him up for an overall win. So again, I'm tempted to skip the show altogether and stay at home watching TV. But TJ suggests that I could skip out before Pisschrist and be home by 11.30. Given that it's a timetrial tonight and there's no way Cadel will be riding first, I figure I can wing it.

I roll up early, get stamped, then wander off to get coffee with Cori, Tegan and her friend Sophie. When Tegan reveals to us that she earns more cold hard cash as a dog hairdresser than I do as a teacher, I insist that she shout me coffee. She insists that I catch up when it comes to job satisfaction, but I'm not convinced.

When we arrive back Snakes Run are playing. They're fast, eighties style hardcore, and seem to be throwing everything into their set. I'm impressed, but Cori wants to go find a bank so she can buy more beer later in the evening. I'm not usually too keen to support a young girl's drinking habit, but I'm more into walking around late at night than I am fast, eighties style hardcore, so we wander over to the Vic Market. The air outside is cool and kind of refreshing, but smells slightly of rotting vegetables and camel shit. I get to complaining about my relationship breakdown and suggest to her that maybe I'm incapable of ever sustaining a relationship that lasts longer than a month. She, sensitive to the last, agrees.

Cut Sick are one of my favourite bands in Melbourne right now. Yep, seriously. They're always good to watch, always thrashing hard, playing fast and throwing themselves around like an ADHD kid with a bellyful of jellybeans. Steve and Rob, dual guitar / vocalists, throw their copious amounts of hair around and slice the air with their guitars, but the real star of the show tonight is Steve's gigantic hickey, which is perhaps the biggest I've ever seen. Somehow it seems to sum them up perfectly – they're young, full of energy and go at life without hesitation, whether it be rocking out, bombing hills or sucking each other's necks. Rob spits in the air and sends a spray over the entire band. The kids loved the terribly spelt Mispent Youth, but Cut Sick – essentially the same band but with Max on drums – are so much faster, tighter and debaucherous. They're touring a lot, doing the hard yards, playing skateparks and galleries and anywhere they can, and will continue getting better with each show.

I talk a bit to Rob after their set. We worked together over the summer at the Social Research Centre. As an aside, anyone wanting a quick 'in' to the Melbourne punk scene could do worse than apply to one of two call centres – Social Research Centre, wittily referred to as 'Social Retard Centre' by its employees, where Dan from Straightjacket Nation is a supervisor; or the mysteriously named Wallace, where vegan champion Lidia is a supervisor. Nearly everyone I know in the Melbourne scene has done a stint at one or the other, some unfortunate souls both. I want to ask Rob if he and Steve practice their rock stances in the mirror, but the conversation steers away and I don't get the chance.

Gorilla Angreb start up and immediately I'm more impressed by them than I was the previous night. After the same thing happened with Against Me, who played absolutely shit at the Corner on a Saturday night, but pretty much ruled at the Arthouse on a Monday, I'm beginning to think that the Arthouse, my sentimental attachments to it aside, is the best place in Melbourne to see bands. And what's more, two of the things that I usually hate about the Arty have all but disappeared: non-smoking laws have actually worked and I'm able to breathe inside; and the fucking idiots bringing the mosh at the front of the stage have been replaced by people actually dancing. For the former I have the state government to thank, but for the latter I have Gorilla Angreb, whose sheer enthusiasm infects us like a virus. The singer, whose excellent voice is complimented by her amazing dance moves, wraps the microphone cord around her wrists and punches the air in front of her, grinning like it's her birthday. The bassplayer, posture like a question mark, stares out across the top of the audience with bloodshot eyes, bass slung across his knees and shaven head glistening in the stagelights. Where everyone in the crowd is madly in love with the singer, everyone is a little bit intimidated by this guy. For the second night in a row I've found myself positioned directly in front of him and I swear I only saw him smile once. Their own brand of early 80s punk, infused with catchy riffs, singalongs and actual singing lends itself to dancing, but is scrappy and raw enough to maintain interest and keep our heads bopping.

I'm a bit intrigued by the crowd, to be honest, and not only because a bunch of them are attempting to sing along to lyrics that are entirely sung in Danish. As stated above, the usual Thrash Til Death style crust punk crash into each other crap that takes place at the Arty has been, despite Metal Mick's best efforts, replaced by dancing, and I'm going to speculate that this is in no small part due to the considerable number of girls up the front. This is an all too rare occurrence, and I can't help but wonder what exactly draws a majority of a particular gender to a particular show. Pisschrist, headlining the show tonight, have heaps of female fans, despite having no female members, whereas I only ever see a few girls at Straightjacket Nation shows, despite their female drummer. I've spent a lot of time thinking about this previously, and come to no conclusions whatsoever, and doubt that I'll come to any tonight. So I stop.

Outside, I stop to talk with TJ, Ross and Cori. We throw around restaurants that have puns in their names, quietly proud of our very own Lord of the Fries, but also impressed by Abra Kebabra. Ross suggests that we write to the Souvlaki King on Brunswick Street and tell them to change their name to "I Should Be Souvlaki", but I doubt that any of us have the conviction. The Gorilla Angreb folk come out to chat – Ross has come down the East Coast with them, and they all seem pretty nice, but I have a date with Cognac to Angoulême, and have to split. On the way home, riding close to a tram, sparks come flying off the wires like fireworks, showering me in points of light. At a red light on Swanston Street I skid to a stop and go straight into a trackstand, which I manage to hold for what seems like an entire minute. None of the latenight pedestrian traffic are impressed. And when I arrive home Cadel has ridden the timetrial of his life, but has not quite done enough. Second place for him, and an empty bed for me.

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