Updated: Jan 23
To see These New South Whales live is like seeing a kid smash a dozen eggs in a row, one by one with a hammer. It's fun. It's crunchy. It's sticky. Shit flies everywhere. And each song is a banger.
I was meant to pump this article around Christmas, but the seasonal festivities took hold. I was distracted by Santa coming down my chimney. After guzzling down my milk & cookies, he took my carrot and emptied his sack. And then Santa gave me the greatest gift of all: Writer's Block. But luckily it could be cured by listening to TNSW's latest single, 'Film The Cops' on repeat until inspiration came. Chilling in the afterglow, I thought it best to check out the photos from the gig. "Sweet Ron and Hermione," I cried in dismay as I realised that the film had come out all dark and underexposed. Usually The Brightside is sick for taking photos. You know it and love it. The velvet booths. The rained-out no-cover smoker's bants. The slosh pit & perfect height end stage. Well this had none of that, because this was in the swampy carpark outside. Shout out to my friend's band Bush Poetry, who played inside! You were looking steezing that night, woop woop.
I've been out the back before for some wrastlin' but this was a whole new affair. There was a behemoth of steel and red stage lights, a massive stage twice as high as Snoop, looming in the distance. The film photos all came out blacker than the blackest black because it was simply so tall and so far away. But that was the only negative, because the pros far outweighed this tiny con. It was an incredible dance space. Pits could break out easily. The seccies were not too strict & walked the line of enforcement perfectly to deliver a fun, safe gig. There was room enough for people to sit around the edges when their legs became tired, and it was spacious enough to accommodate the crowd, which swelled to a clowder by the end.
The Brighty always pops off, so let's jump into the bands. A stellar line up of five bands, we had Slowrip, Girl and Girl, Dopamine, Seaside, and the belles of the ball, These New South Whales.
It was the classic Brighty with a twist, there were 2 gigs on tonight. The back stage was lit up and ready to go. Our first cabs off the rank step up to the podium, and the start sludgy. Psychadelic. Hard. Grimy. And with doomy bass. The freakazoids from inner space are Slowrip, and they're here to knock our frocks off.
I wish the film for these dudes turned out better, because they can really dodge, duck, dip, dive & dodge. They move like guitar-straddling meerkats, and the singer adopts a deep Faris Badwan voice. And all the while, the guitar drives the bus.
"G'day, we are Slowrip. Welcome to the evening.."
They are freaky. Shoegazey. The drummer does backing vox while going off, The Rev-style. Their second song starts off cybernetic, before going hard. It's stabby on the guitar, with a hint of mystery. A growl ushers us down the rabbit hole. I'm again reminded of The Horrors, with some Jack the Ripper delivery. They're fuckin' scary! With some doomy guitars, wailing. I really like them. They might even be my favourite support act of the night. I can't wait until they're bigger and can be the penultimate act, or maybe even headline their own stuff. Because Slowrip are crazy. And they can really get the growing crowd moving.
Their third song starts off hard and fast like Sonic Youth, it's like a revolving mirror, and always with the guitar droning. Look at those shoes! Gaze upon them! Stare! The crowd swells as they carry on, heedless and faster. They move on to the next ditty:
"This song is about an aeroplane. Probably haven't caught one in years, mate."
Deep voice booming despite his skinny size, this song is the doomiest & gloomiest yet. Flashing lights and feedback fill the night as the song gets darker and marches forward. Their next song starts with a shriek on the strings and some sort of glidings scale freakiness. It builds and groans, always moving forward. Always flying higher. We get some solo freakiness, some wails and moans. It's the best schralp sesh so far, and I've been really digging every song - so that's saying a lot. The whammy's getting a work out, and it comes to a close. We get some good audience interaction from the singer, ever a larrikin. The next song starts with some '(Don't Fear) The Reaper' guitar, and we get some improv & tailored lyrics dedicated to The Brighty carpark, and the 15 people in it. After this we get an ode to his little pet bird, with some wailing guttural vocals and nightmare-carousel guitar that traps you. The singer is tuning his guitar in and out on the fly while he plays, and it's getting freaky.
These guys groove and growl, they chug, they slug, they glug and they mug. They capture you. Their final song is a "Real quick one," running for about 8 minutes. It starts off with doomy slugs on the worm strings, and then the rattlesnake venom hits. It's a growly hit from a space sci-fi futurescape with a fake-out ending, leading us into an interstellar freakshow breakdown. It's a fatal cocktail of reverb, gain & feedback, pushing us over the edge into scary town. I like it. Don't bring your mum to see these guys. She'll never go anywhere without her trusty crucifix and earplugs again. Slowrip, man. Slow fucking Rip.
Next up we have Girl and Girl. My boss hyped them up for me, saying the go hard, with some King Gizz energy. I like them from the start, when they do a comedy sound check. They've got bass deeper than the Mariana Trench, juxtaposed with some weirdly jangly, spry guitar. The drummer is my favourite member of the band, Aunty Liss, with her nephew Kai sporting the pencil skirt and spitting spells. They flit between croons & 'Blackbird' guitar, to pump-up drums kicking your teeth in.
They sound like a Pixar movie soundtrack (in a good way) until the rug gets pulled and a strange bridge washes over us. All the layers fade away and we get some guitar with a strange suppression effect on it. This is when they start to get freaky, and from here they sound like a summer fling that's come to an end. Steamy but morose.
Song number 2 starts off with some sort of futuristic happy 'Dammit' intro. It's almost like Ska's little brother, but without the brass. Or skanking. It's boppy. Usually I'm too critical on happy music, but these delvers have bottled it up perfectly, because the whole crowd's moving.
Girl and Girl are the perfect band if you want to sway in the morning. They've got cool drum shuffles pushing it all along, great audience interaction and an odd combo of happy and remorseful, bitter sad-guitar. Like if Bug's Life was a tragedy. Aunty Liss is always goin' off, and the pencil skirt always gets slightly more and more torn. They go hard.
"We're gonna play a cowboy song.."
They move into a conglomerate of pub rock-funk-pop with a fun drawl. Resonance and feedback shear our sheep and it's always building. Song number 5 comes in with drums kicking, guitar drones taking us by the hand and staccato vocal stabs. The singerooni takes us on a journey, and the audience are all holding hands and dancing. They are masters of storytelling, sly grooves and big-lunged held notes. Their final song flips between a bopping chorus and tender, quivering verse. The singer's feelin' some shit behind the moustache. They mightn't be my usual thing, but Girl and Girl and convert even the most stalwart edgelord to a world of swaying and twisting (like we didn't last summer).
Band #3 are Dopamine. A 182-tinged pop punk outfit, but with soaring Brian May solos. It's a sound to be beheld. They bring back nostalgia, with Millencolin vibes and I love the singer's wiggly worm noddle moves. During the second song, the singer's strap fell off and he kept cool as a cucumber and kept shredding the entire time. THE CONTROL. they melt our faces with some solo wizardry and we move into the next song, a new song. Hailing from the future, this song is from an upcoming release, due next year. So keep your peepers primed.
Their new song has healthy swathes of guitar, with questioning chords. IT goes into some crunchy pop punk granola with reminiscent lyrics. The guitar comes in with overdrive swinging, and we get a taste of the 2000's. They sweep us into a crazy guitar gut-puncher, and I can't help but think that if this is the sort of thing we have to look forward to, then Dopamine's next release is sure to be insanity. They always combine happy choppy guitar with a taste of the gnar. Their bridges are uplifting and their guitar squawks are piercing. And then the big gusto choruses and solos. I reckon they would have been the biggest band in the world in the 2000's. Now, 20 years later, let's bring it back!
Songs number 6 featured a wall of sound and then my brother Nigerius arrived, so I had to disappear for a second to get him in. I get back to the front for song number 7, and I like it. Some mystery notes, into a full-steam adventure. They take us away on a tall tale and then the singer gives us some crowd work inbetween ditties:
"Trust me. That was gonna be so epic. I guess this is what happens when you've been watching The Ashes all day.."
They take it away with 'Strange Situation,' their single released earlier this year. It's punchy. Groovy. The beers are going everywhere. This song sounds more like a Dandy Warhols vibe. Or maybe I mean The Brian Jonestown Massacre (winky face). It's got pure guitar schralp-age and a thick, full sonic uppercut to the schnozz.
Dopamine are easy to listen to & even easier to dance to. They're happy grunge masters. Like if Billy Corgan did a pop album, and didn't hate everyone. They've got a squelchy guitar situation and could take over the Scott Pilgrim soundtrack. They're tight, fun and they get the crowd slow moshing. Dopamine are dope.
Coming in hot, we have the fourth sniff of good breath, Seaside. I was excited to hear them play, because I heard they were from Byron Bay. And I grew up around there in Ballina. So I was eager to hear my hometown minstrels. They start off with 'Shame,' a song about Scott Morrison & our leadership. We get a whiff of smooth vocals, quickly turning into harshness.
I'll tip my hat to the singer; she's got some moves! The guitar jingles, the bass runs and the drums are punching.
We're told they actually have a stand-in guitarist for this show, "An absolute LORD." He had to learn all their songs real quick, and gee wizz does he shred. You can't even tell. You'd never know if they didn't tell you. Their next song is an hommage to The Cure, with funky bass and best-friend trudging drums. The guitar runs away and the vocals are catchy and vibrating, like Yoko Takahashi's 'A Cruel Angel's Thesis.'
They give us some really good crowd work lead-ins, and then play 'God and Girl,' some "OG Seaside, man. This is the old school shit!" If we know the words, we're invited to yell. It begins with the guitar slashing its way through a jungle, with some heartfelt vox coming in. Then it builds to a breezy chorus. The audience are united in hip gyration & swaying. We hear a slow bridge, with flowing, resonant chords. It builds up to some jungle drums, chugging guitar and the bassist starts a clap.
"If you've just tuned in to The Brightside, outside, we are Seaside. If you wanna look us up on Instagram, don't. Because some small child in the Philippines has our Instagram handle."
The next song begins with story time. It's a song about her highschool boyfriend's mother. It's dedicated to Bernice. She's a mole. 'Joyride' gives us big lungs, tight musicianship and builds up to the big jangles.
After this they cover Placebo, before moving into their final song before TNSW. They get atmospheric, freaky and the drums are always blasting. Seaside have amazing stage presence, with the singer using all her surroundings. She jumps around, arms up, all in-between long notes and huge bursts. They get adulations from the crowd, before we move on to the main course. . .
Hang your heads, boys. There's no nipple tape tonight. Some bands grow and mature. For TNSW, that means putting on shirts. The sound is still fucked though. And that's what we want. Now their nipple hair can rest peacefully each night and grow strong and thick, like a mighty mane. Rest in peace the titty tape, you served your futuristic punk overlords well.
The first thing that smacks us in the face, is giant projected initials T - N - S - W, adorning the stage in old English cursive. The sound check commences, and The Big Dogs take to the stage, to rapturous wooping. Todd first (guitar), followed by Will (bass), Frank (drums) and finally, the cherub, Jaime.
Let the games commence. They tear into 'Police State' straight up. The audience gets moving and the breakdown flicks us in the dick. We get sexual as the shirt comes off and Jaime's tits get let loose in full force. That didn't last long. It's weird to see the areolas though. We get the sludgy sex noodle dance and they're only just getting started. I still wonder why their incredible performance of this song on ABC with Tom Ballard was pulled from YouTube. My friends and I used to watch this every day. It is the most brain-popping performance ever done. If anyone knows where to find this video out there somewhere on the internet, or why it was pried from our sign-of-the-horned hands, hit me up.
Number 2 starts with some great crowd work, something which would continue throughout the night. It's beginning to get a little rowdy, as a pit begins. A giant fat guy with a mullet keeps knocking me over, but I'm down. They tell us it's their first show in fucking 2 years! and give us a comedy story. The next song is from their second album, a magnetic ditty called 'It's Its Own Heart.'
Vexing showmanship from Jaime as always. It's a gritty, bass-driven song with a slow break-up and the members are getting sweaty. Always a good sign.
Always the performer, he is constantly interacting with the audience in between songs. He is not afraid to clown, he is not afraid to antagonise. The thing that sets These New South Whales apart from their kin, is the expert crowdwork and stage presence of their singer. Jaime will get down and trod on the banister. He will take your hand. He will make you laugh and cry and boo and cheer. These New South Whales come fully equipped with some of the highest energy stagecraft and captivating audience back-and-forth in the business.
'Remote Control' comes next, and the pit gobbles us up. The applause is deafening. The punchy, gripping guitar takes us through grime and glory. Jaime is on the metal banister, Todd is in full power-stance mode, and the crowd surfers start going for a paddle. After this we get a taste of both sides of the comedy & tragedy coin, with some brutal life lessons between songs:
"You're ultimately alone."
He's ever playful and not afraid to push the envelope and see what the crowd can take. The next song is 'In The Light of Day,' and I got a quick glimpse a crowd surfing girl, before she went down the wrong wrong way. I assume she was okay. The crowd went into a frenzy during this track.
After this we get some new songs. The first one is an upcoming release 'That's the Life.' The bass and guitar are dark & stormy, always pushing forward. There's a big lift in the chorus and some tongue-in-cheek trademark larrikinism. I like it.
"Who's smokin' some of that groovy, groovy tango juice? Smells good. Smells good."
We get another new little ditty, with some rambunctious grinding on the strings and Ramones vocals. We get one more new one after this, and it's the first time they've played it.
Always the joker, the next song starts with that classic trickster call and response; "Am I singing in key, or am I out of tune? Does it even matter?" The new song begins with some guitar stabs, hard and fast. I like it. We get a melancholic outpour into bass run & feedback city. And then the freakiest flying guitar solo known to Ibis-kind.
And now for some old ones. Coming in with 'Meat Hook.' The crowd is shaking the whole barrier. I just witnessed a guy throw his beer can miles up into the air, and another dude perfectly catch it right in front of his face with spider-senses tingling. The crowd gets jumpin' and the bass splits some heads with sonic force. There is some pandering before the solo, as the crowd flips the barrier off the ground.
My favourite thing about all the photos of Todd, is this intense power stance. Each photo can be taken songs apart, and they all look like the same song. It's actually incredible. He must have one beefy mega thigh and a calve that can open bottle caps from all his weight resting only on it, while the other leg is a twigglet bird stalk. We get a big thanks to Grain Magazine for having them, and shout outs to all the bands after the next track - a slow and trudgy tempo chameleon.
The next banger to grace our ear holes is 'You Work For Us.' Featuring chips and a pie vocals, dog barks, pumping the fuck out of the crowd and slower, gnarlier pace, 'You Work For Us' is the perfect song to usher us in to the climactic last stretch of the evening.
After this we get some more engagement, as Jaime takes an audient's filming phone, captures himself and the crowd on it, before returning it to the owner. That guy no doubt has the most intimate grab from the whole night. He'll never wash that phone again. He probably watches the video every night and will show it to his children's children in the Metaverse.
The audience sings the next one so loudly that we can hear them through the mic. They demand 'What's In The Garage,' and Jaime appeases them. Giving us a stirring vocal solo-take with the drums backing him up. Impromptu and messy, I like it. Most singer do not interact or change up their set for the audience like this. Improvisationary and always prepared, Jaime is able to tackle any crowd and situation.
After the crowd is pleased, we get the family favourite, 'Cholesterol Heart.' By this stage, the audience is tearing the venue apart. The band leave the stage, and we beg for an encore.
And of course they reciprocate.
The crowd is frothing. Murderous. Frenzied. That barrier has really had a workout. The seccies step in to stop the barrier-breakers, and the audience booms ONE MORE SONG!
They step onto the stage.
It starts off scary. Feedback buzzing. We get their latest single, the 52-second perfect blast, 'Film The Cops.' But we get more than we bargained for. They move into something freaky. We move beyond the 52-second mark into something doomy. My brother Nigel runs along the abused barrier and stage dives. From my perch, it looks like it doesn't go well. I see him slip beneath the surface head-first, and the pit matures. He swears he was fine and they caught him. But it looked to me more like 7 people getting kicked in the head, and his face making friends with the pavement.
They put on one fucktonne payload of a show. These New South Whales are the best band you've got to see. If you haven't had the chance, you need to sell all your belongings and scrounge up that 18$ for a ticket. Big thanks to all the bands who blew our lids off that night. Massive respect to Slowrip, who reinvigorated shoegazey fucked up guitar shit. I want these guys to go far. Each and every band brought something different to the table, and it was cool to see an eclectic mix.
I got you a sweetass film reel below. Bask in the glory of the 5 photos of 27 that weren't completely fucked. You can almost see what's going on. Almost.
Just remember kids, All Cats Are Bastards.
35mm Film Reel: