Updated: Apr 24
Mic grabs, gutturals & mosh pits galore, Hysteria Mag sure know how to party. Colonel Sanders' Eleven Secret Coughs & Spices came and postponed the original date for Halloween Hysteria last year, bumping it back to April 2nd 2022. And what a time. First I'm getting pranked on April Fools, then I'm getting punched in the face at a metal festival. It was awesome.
Straight up when I got there, I strapped on my Nike's and Usain Bolted over to see the freaks in Something Something Explosion. The singer and I are actually old friends, both hailing from Toowoomba. I never thought I'd have to line up to see her. Now, Grace Drummond may have put down roots in Melbourne, but not a lot has changed. She's still got the biggest lungs in the business. She's still got the most powerful stance with a guitar. And she still fills up the stage and blasts the crowd with everything she's got. If the mic didn't work you'd still be able to hear her. I was diggin' the blast-beat drums and the gravel bass grit. I still remember seeing her compete in country music competitions.
And then the grunge came in.
Go see Something Something Explosion. She's the explosion.
Right after them I was treated to everyone's favourite, Flangipanis. You know how it goes; shouted shanty songs of old and the sickest singer known to man. And woman. They bring the party and you bring the beers. roaring, rowdy and comedy crowd work, with jumping legs spring-loaded. Frontwoman Jodie Flange kept popping up as a recurring character throughout the night, always with 10-thousand volts of energy. This isn't the last time you've heard of her.
"Everyone look after each other and share ya drugs!" - Jodie Flange
Right after this I caught the tail-end of Diskust. These masked Brisbane butchers have the sickest steeze I've ever seen. Drummer, ronnies mask. Singer: Saw Murder Muppet. Guitarist: Sub-Zero ninja mask & spray jacket. The other guitarist is a Japanese hannya oni. And the bassist is a fucking Arnold Schwarzenegger Predator. They have a really incredible stage presence, with brutal gutturals & a bursting theatricality. Some really cool moves too, with The Predator jumping down into the crowd and slashing hard on the old basso continuo.
Next up we had These New South Whales. Now I don't want to go too in-depth, because I did a huge live review for them back in December, and let's just say it was my longest article ever. By a large margin... But let the comedy begin! The crowd-work prince was enthralling as usual, and they played 'Space in Hell,' my secret favourite right now. Hilarious as always, with Jaimie hunting for ghosts in the Mansfield Tavern. Huge shout out to the venue, because this was the first gig I've ever had the luxury of seeing a band with the world's fattest burger in one hand and a beer in the other. They whipped out the classics, 'Your Work For Us,' 'Remote Control.' They actually didn't play any of their more rambunctious tunes, like 'Film the Cops' or 'Police State,' which I thought was interesting. It's very ballsy to go to a metal festival and not play any breakdowns.
The shirt finally comes off and we get glistening VBs atop vibrating amps and some sultry Jaimie tits, with 'Cholesterol Heart' closing the curtain.
A slew of metalcore & deathcore bands whisked me away next. I was impressed by To The Grave's vocal techniques. Hailing from Sydney, pig squeals and 8-string guitar chugs are the name of the game. Violent, heavy & grindy, with some juicy time changes. Every song was about animal murder and dedicated to the animal abusers. Incredible vocal techniques. Just don't eat a burger near this guy. Gravemind came on next and had the doominess downpat. Practiced, consistent vocals with the sludgiest breakdowns in the known world.
I rushed over to the other stage to catch She Cries Wolf next. I remember seeing them back in the day, hanging off the rafters at the Fuzzbox in Toowoomba. I remember seeing them at the bowls club, confused & fascinated old people surrounding the crowd with camera phones capturing the throwdowns of the youth. I remember seeing them at Fat Louie's with the crowd sprawling over guitar cases and sweat. And I remember seeing them covered in blood at The Lab for Coen's final gig as bassist, bass shattered and wood splintered everywhere. Nowadays, ex-guitarist Daniel Belic is on the four strings after ducking out for fatherly duties for a time. He was walking on heads in the audience at one stage.
Known for their wild & highly physical live performances, with mic grabs & volatile audience involvement, She Cries Wolf have still got it. Perhaps less bruised, beaten and bloody than in the past, they still can move. I managed to capture it on film, but the photos are still being developed. You'll see them if you're lucky (and if they don't look like shit). They played a medley of both old and new. Some Divorce-era stuff. You should've heard the noise the crowd made when they played 'Baal.' Frenzied.
It was then that I saw Jodie Flange lift a man with her bare hands up over her head and throw him onto the crowd. He kicked a chick in the head right next to me and she took it like a champ. It was glorious.
Fangz also raised my brows. It starts with a capoeira side-flip and only grows from there. They've got drops galore, dickies jumpsuits and big belting uvulas. At one stage the singer jumps into the crowd and sits us all down in a beautiful friendship circle and we all sway. Then the squiggliest guitar solo ears have ever beheld, before the pit opens up. When you go see Fangz, it's party time. You've been warned.
And then RedHook came to town.
It starts with a drum solo.
Emmy Mack takes to the stage, lurking. Blood drips from her mouth lazily, one drop at a time. Thick and viscous. She jumps, and the crowd follows.
They play their latest single, they play some old stuff. They play it all. you can never pin them down. RedHook flit between hip-hop and hardcore. They flirt with the double kick. They fire off flow and release the floodgates on The Heavies. Their stage craft is impeccable - deeply theatrical and captivating. They're both horrifying and playful.
They even whip out some gutturals & fry's. I've got a whole page in my notes that just says "THE GUTTURALS, SON." We even got a sick cover of 'Break Stuff' by Limp Bizkit, which I was not expecting. At one stage the guitarist puts down his bow and takes up the sax. What follows is one man's journey through the sultry swamps of the South.
The photos are actually so good that there are too many to choose from. So now you get a bonus gallery at the end.
Siren and frontwoman Emmy Mack is very impressive. There is no floorboard left unwalked on stage, no audient left out. You can find her on the floor or clutching claws. The banister, the amp, the drum kit. These are the places you will find her perched.
At the end, they give shout outs to Something Something Explosion, Fangz and Last Martyr, and get everyone up on stage. A clown car of musicians hatches and every fkn band in Brisbane ends up on stage.
After the beautiful choral rendition, the players take to the shadows and the crowd disperses. Leaving only me and Jodie Flange once more, the Obi-Wan of my hero's journey. In her wise party master voice she taps my book and says "Good to see all the women up on stage. Put that in." And so I did. You can't say no to Jodie. It's just not good for your health.
Spiderbait take to the stage after, and we have a beautiful intro from Kram, dedicating the show to Ukraine. It starts off with a jungle drum solo with a sick little bass ditty on it's coat tails. The crowd is roaring and the the guitar comes crashing in. It's a rumbler that builds and builds into clunge guitar. There's thunder on the double kick and the jam grows into something furious. Damien Whitty's guitar is ancient, moulded to his hands. They've been through some shit together, he and this wood.
Kram is a master of dynamics, able to shift from firepower to powder snow when the music calls for it. And Janet English is feeling the flowstate more than any other, her face scrunched up and her fingers a blur. She's still their secret weapon.
When they play, they are kids again on stage. They are having fun, Old Octopus Arms up there with the sticks and the two wiggly worm wranglers behind the plectrums.
"Never underestimate the power of sport." - Kram
We get all the classics, 'Old Man Sam,' 'Footy,' 'Buy Me a Pony,' and every other song you can possibly imagine. The crowd was having conniptions when Janet sung 'Calypso.'
The thing that struck me is how much they really care about their audience. One unfortunate crowd surfer hit the reef; "You alright buddy?" asks Kram. Another woman was injured in the crowd and Janet came to her aid, with Kram soon joining. They paused mid-song to check on her and then kept going. And the song was even crazier for it. When they went back in, the whole house fell down.
"For those of you who haven't seen us before, we're a family here. If someone's hurt, you stop playing. That's old school." - Kram
I loved the bo-diddly slide on the guitar, with Whitty ripping out a slide from his voluminous back pocket every now and then. The things he can do with pedals and dials, strings pressed up against the mic stand. The guy is a madman. A freak. He's insane. He shouldn't be allowed to be set loose on the unsuspecting public. He'll blow too many minds.
The audience was wild, a sea of hair. The crowd was glued till the final note.
And along came King Parrot.
Grandma Slatts and The Boys take to the stage. Last time I saw them, Youngie had no hair. Now the singer's got several. All over. Everywhere. It's tickling his shoulders. They give us a jokester intro, as always. And then an ear shattering cymbal roll-in, 100-miles an hour instantly. Little shorts, big guts and sonic brutality.
The screech is always piercing, the guitars are always grinding and Slatts is always chugging. Matt Young is always commanding in pose and presence. A lot of liquid was spilled in the making of this gig. The crowd was very hydrated.
They're the funniest guys you'll ever see in between songs. Larrikins. Absolute comedians. They should charge extra for the jokes. Honestly, even without the instruments I think people would still come and see them live. Just for the laugh riot.
They're the dirtiest guys with the dirtiest music. You and your ears are happily invited to the cesspool, but your nanna might do the sign of the cross. A King Parrot record could turn a black cat white. They sound like the sound a blender makes when you put in records, nails and guitar strings.
Their set switches effortlessly from grooves to demon conjuring. And we even get a proper wall of death - with the classic guy who stays in the middle who dies when it hits and you never see him again. He's out the back hearing Enya music while the rest of us are getting into fisting and banging heads. They interrogate the crowd about our drug habits and one guy on acid astral planes up to the stage.
They give us the craziest drum work all night. The guy's got 4 legs and his hair can play the drums too. Matt Young has the record for longest breath held while singing and then they pull out the big guns with 'Shit On the Liver.' Jolly good show, old chaps.
The final band to grace the stage is Clowns. I haven't seen them for many years, and they've really gone to heavy camp in the interim. They rock out in gym shorts and sweat bands and are ready to rumble. The mic stand really gets a workout from Stevie Williams, having held the microphone a grand total of zero times and yet finds itself horizontal almost permanently.
I haven't seen them in almost 10 years, with the last time being at The Spotted Cow in Toowoomba, opening for The Bennies. At the time I thought they were pretty sick, but sort of forgot about them for a few years. Until my brother showed me 'Lucid Again.' And it was then that I discovered what all the fuss was about. They've really honed their ruthlessness both in vocals and in energy.
I was getting flashes of Talking Heads Stop Making Sense live with the gym shorts and high-energy running. And that's something I'm fully down for.
Stevie Williams went on an Ian Thorpe lap of the crowd and he practiced his backstroke.
They know how to incite the crowd. All in all, it was a science experiment to see what happens if you give kids enough sugar to levitate.
Halloween Hysteria may have been pushed back a few months, but it was living proof that the live music scene can never be repressed. The gig brought out Brisbane's best dressed from their lairs, wielding hairspray, studs and eyeliner. From fishnet to velvet, we saw every kind of goth, punk, freak and geek under the sun. And more commonly, out of it. Every single band was worthy of headlining their own tour and it was incredible to see them all together under one steakhouse roof. Oh, and RedHook are coming to town in May, so I'll see you there. And now, because there were too many photos of the headlines to choose from, I will leave you with a little photo gallery. And a short poem:
Goodbye my lover / Goodbye my friend
You have been the one / You have been the one for me
My personal favourite shots are below, but check out the full gallery here.