Friday, May 24, 2013


Northcote Social Club 
'This is the last show of the tour,' says Gung Ho singer Michael McAlary to the eight of us in attendance as they begin their show. 'I'm so glad it's a big one.’ Full of singeing chords and screeching harmonies Gung Ho are in fine form, their exuberant indie rock ricocheting around the band room with James Wright in sparkling form as ever, both on the beats and the banter. Twin Rays and single Side By Side are highlights of their energetic set, though songs seem dispatched with less energy than their last NSC show a month ago. Even at an ebb, and when playing to a small but vocal crowd, Gung Ho are one of the better guitar pop bands around. 

Also full of errant charisma and hilarious banter are Step-Panther, tonight on killer form. 'This show is going to be intimate as fuck,' says bassist Jose to the now half-full room. Briskly delivered tracks like Superpowerz, Maybe Later and Skullface all completely rule, and everyone gets totally amped. 'When did I get to be such a disappointment to everybody? / When did I become so integral to their plans? / I don’t want to be here / I just want to get some nachos' sings Steve Bourke between dexterous guitar breaks in Bad Mood; who hasn’t been there? Fight Like a Knight sees a brief interruption for a hilariously inept acapella take on Kiss’s God Gave Rock n Roll To You as their set moves between metal riffs, Reatard-like punk and 50s rock. Step-Panther are kings of whatever planet they’re on and it’s a weirdly euphoric privilege to visit it. 

From the moment Fergus Miller leads the five-piece Bored Nothing into their set it’s clear a wry, fumbling intelligence is at work, though as it turns out, it’s given few constraints. As happens with prodigious songwriting talent, it’s easy to lose sight of the value of editing, and this seems to have happened to Miller. While we get more hits than misses, mystifying and awkward banter often leaves the band shrugging their shoulders and empathising with the audience’s nervous silence, whether this is deliberate or not is unclear. While their version of a Lou Barlow-style slacker pop is instantly appealing, and songs like Shit For Brains, I Wish You Were Dead and the closing Triple J single Popcorn are fantastic slices of Girls-style indie pop, their rendering is dense with keys and guitar, songs are often five minutes plus and most sit around the same mid-paced tempo. All of which suggests a critical ear and some judicious pruning could result in serious brilliance.

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