Monday, November 16, 2009


Monday, January 14, 2008 
The Old Bar

This evening's lineup is a lesson in the power of broken rock and roll. With a glut of Tasmanians and ex-Tasmanians on the bill, it is telling just how many of the bands specialise in stripped-back discordant guitar squalls, how much they welcome uncontrolled feedback and the strong undercurrent of 'wrongness' and damaged will that there is in the song subjects. From the broken cymbal adorning Moe Grizzly's drum-kit, to the front of their guitar amp falling off part way through their set, to Hate Club's bottle-brush-to-the-brain screech and The Adults' jarring dynamic shifts, the feel of a relentless battle for assertion against a formidable world is palpable and in its way, a sorely-needed reminder that raw nerves are a powerful force.

Midnight Caller's primal energy comes as a blast of cleansing Nuggets-rock, pushing all those recently performing professionals out of short-term memory and replacing them with simple, burning drive. 'I feel like a parking meter on a Sunday afternoon' wails singer Pat Cross over brother Dan's killer bass riffing, bringing to mind all that was good about 90s underground rock. Much of the set is taken from their We Work The Shop album and serves to illustrate just how far out of touch JJJ are given that this is the sort of thing that ignited imaginations when they could still access them. Despite losing lyrics to the force of the music, the feel of salvation from ennui through the act of creation is there and closing song From The Start is a lesson in how to make a chugging mid-paced number rousing and not boring.

Hate Club follow and set about working a near Albini level of treble from the guitar, a level only matched by the bassist's phenomenal Bjelland-like screech. This band are all edge and adrenaline, with their guitarist appearing to be electrocuted with ever thrash of his instrument. "If you've tried killing yourself, try enjoying this song," he deadpans into the flopping mic. A gig this anti-melody and with songs only barely wrested back from feedback hell is exciting at first but soon becomes a bit samey, and, besides a promisingly Dinosaur Jr. start to a song Don't Go Anywhere soon brought to a close by a broken string, the indiscernible vocals meld the songs together. The energy however, is undeniable.

Self described Tasmanian blues-rock group Moe Grizzly exist on some unholy ground midway between Neu and ZZ Top and wallow in the filth therein. The primal garage howl of singer and (damn impressive) guitarist Reggie Morris - whose snail-paced imploring leaves you with little option but to go with him on these dark journeys - is a songwriter of oddly honest and effective force. With a guitar sound like breaking glass, Hannah Fitzgerald's swamp-beats and second guitarist Ben Consumer's muddy crunch, Moe Grizzly are a band unlikely to garner much attention but reward those who do seek them out. Dark and oddly groovy.

Last on the bill and playing their final gig come The Adults. The crowd are certainly on their side and their sound is a thing of awesome power, but here songs are secondary to the Almighty Riff. Noisy, screaming and full of dark spiky dissonance, what The Adults lack in subtlety they make up for in tightness, sounding twice as loud because of their occasional breaks to near silence, and driving lead guitar lines. It's hard to believe that these players aren't going to go onto something equally powerful and primal. Rock action was had.

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