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Live Review: Batpiss, Gareth Liddiard, Palm Springs, Bench Press

28 August 2017 | 12:57 pm | Kelly Herbison

"The tone of Sloane's voice and powerful bass incite a spine-shaking hum through The Tote's floor as 'Tell Them My Name Is X' begins."

The Tote opens its doors to the intense, immersive and unapologetic presence of both old-school and newcomer punk-rock allsorts. Melbourne's own post-punk four-piece Bench Press open the evening with unbridled fury, the outfit's frontman Jack Stavrakis tearing out his lyrics and pacing around the stage.

No stranger to the Melbourne music scene, Erica Dunn, host of PBS show Mixing Up The Medicine, graces the stage with her latest project Palm Springs. The local group offer reflective moments of melody while nurturing the crowd's energy into a more pensive frame of mind.

"I used to play to most of your parents, when they were alcoholics. I can see it - and the damage it did to your dad's sperm - just by lookin' at ya' faces" - entertaining and mildly offensive, Gareth Liddiard captures the audience's attention if nothing else, on stage solo with just electric guitar. Strange Tourist begins, Liddiard narrating the experience of living with "really shit housemates". Despite looking to the audience for some lyrical cues from time to time, Liddiard improvises renditions of his songs with a raspy sincerity, wringing the words for all they are worth. Engaging in cynical and self-deprecating banter with the audience, Liddiard maintains the witty and unequivocally honest dimension of his music even between songs. The crowd forgives him for going over time as their eyes fixate on the man staring right back at them wearing a jumper patterned with gouged-out eyeballs.

Batpiss tear into it with their opening number Black Paint. Bass player Thomy Sloane and guitarist Pauly Portal's clapping construct a dense wall of sound alongside the ominous beat of Marty Baker's drumming, as the stage is drenched in murky green, shadowy lighting. Having set the mood, the punk-rock group rips out crowd-favourite Paralyzed, bursting fat, swirling riffs as Portal lunges back and forth. Punters move in tighter and thrusting shoulders force an inescapable movement throughout the crowd. The tone of Sloane's voice and powerful bass incite a spine-shaking hum through The Tote's floor as Tell Them My Name Is X begins. This track manipulates the atmosphere with precision and ferocity - the standout number of the set. Weatherboard Man offers a moment of sinister respite with its slower beat, although the song still suffocates the crowd with its impenetrable intensity. The launch of Rest In Piss provides a coarse, complex array of deep sounds that are characteristic of this punk band's puncturing, heavy intricacy.

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