Where else would you rather be, than catching a few local bands at The Zoo, as you ponder how much water the human body can lose before it just keels over?
There isn’t an easy way to describe or categorise WHALEHOUSE as a whole. Their sound is a classic frantic punk, with a hint of pop extravagance, but when it comes to song choices, I don’t even know where to start.
Wrapped in lab coats, they surged from a song about the, potentially sexual, feeling you get from touching cellophane, to a track about dealing with being a ‘good Christian girl’.
How am I meant to even process that type of topical whiplash in the barely minute of high-speed punk they deliver it in?
I mean their latest single, ‘Skeletons – In My Closet’, is a mere 44 seconds long. And there is so much to unpack there.
Their lead singer opened the gig by doing the fake stairs gag, on stage, in full sight. A song about eating your vegetables featured some solid cowbell and I’m pretty sure a song featured the line ‘smell my feet-o’.
It was a set that was schizophrenic and bizarre and entertaining as hell, all at the same time.
How does WHALEHOUSE only have 3 singles out? Their set was almost a dozen deep, and now I can’t go back and re-listen to their song about spaghetti. Just doesn’t seem fair.
It was fitting that The Jensens opened with their most recognisable single; ‘Fears’. It was way for the band to pay testament to their breakout single, a song fans still enjoy, but one the group has sonically moved on from.
Besides a couple of upcoming singles sprinkled in, the majority of the set was dedicated to their new direction. Their latest self-produced album, Hyacinth Haze, features a broader, more sophisticated sound, including a selection strings instruments and a horn section.
‘Four Chambers’ may not have featured the horns section that the album does, but it still captured the atmospheric and slightly psychedelic sound that The Jensens are now homing in on.
‘In Thought’ was next, and runs in a similar vein to ‘Four Chambers’, but with the addition of a fantastic piano hook.
The band closed with their latest, and more traditional single, ’Mt. Mura’. A gateway song to the revised Jensens, it acts as a transition from their garage rock inspired origins to their more expansive present. For me, it’s all about the harmonies on the chorus.
Bleeding Knees Club delivered exactly what you would expect; a set that was frantic, unpredictable, sweaty and a little intoxicated.
The band opened with a run of songs off their latest album Fade the Hammer. ‘Case’ was up first, getting the blood pumping and the sweat dripping. Coming up after The Jensens, it was like watching two opposites collide, intricately crafted beauty suddenly shifting to pure chaotic energy.
‘No Strings’ was next, before the punk energy was leveled out a little with the softer ‘Behind’.
Leader singer Alex Wall declared that 2020 was going to be the year that ‘swag’ would re-enter our every day conversations. Like, I said, I think they were a little intoxicated.
From there, it was a trip right back to the origins of the band with both ‘Truth or Dare’ and ‘Have Fun’, from the first EP ‘Virginity’. Which came out in 2011, 9 years ago. Oh no, am I old? Am I out of touch? Have I wasted my life?
Existential crisis aside, both tracks have held up against the test of time, their simple but timeless garage rock sensibilities shining through still.
BNC’s latest single, ‘Spin’, was tucked up just before the last run of songs, a slower number before a stretch of circle pit starters.
‘Cyber Doom’ came first with a super extended outro, before ‘Burning Crosses’ and ‘Chew The Gum’ were all fired off in short succession. I’m not sure if it was the heat of The Zoo, a humid Brisbane summer or a couple too many drinks but things spiralled super quickly as the circle pit petered out.
I can’t even remember what the last song was. I just recall Alex demanding that the crowd start a break-dance pit, or he would start to play John Butler Trio. And so we got both, a group of people very poorly cutting shapes in time with the opening strings of ‘Zebra’.
The band started back up, but next thing I know, random members of the crowd were on stage and everything was descending very quickly in to anarchy. The band closed out the song, and then signed off, as I was left to ponder exactly what I had witnessed.
Was it the magic of local gigs?
Or why you should never, ever, ever let anyone but the band on the stage.