Live Review: Bleeding Knees Club, Drunk Mums

13 August 2012 | 4:38 pm | Izzy Tolhurst

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Together with Dave Brennan and Liam Magee, the founders and happy owners of Massive Wieners (Greville street's famed hot-dog stand), Dave's brother Mark and Jake Egan have opened Godzilla Bar, a temporary drinking establishment in the remains of semi-demolished Normandy Hotel in Clifton Hill.

Upon entering, you wander through a strangely silent, candlelit path that winds around piles of the building's wreckage: clusters of bricks, stripped and wrecking-balled walls, wooden slats and debris: an abundant variety of relics from the first stages of deconstruction. Then on through the former pokies room and into the main band room and bar, which has already been considerably stripped back, losing much of its previous form and familiarity.

Successfully acquiring a short-term lease with a liquor license at the quasi-dilapidated pub, the boys are hosting ten weeks of parties until the hotel is finally reduced to rubble. This is the sixth stage of their alcohol-fuelled party decathlon. Converse Australia also got a shoe-in (yep, I said it) this round, providing free beer and a platform on which to launch the Melbourne leg of their Acts Of Disruption tour. In theory, all these elements combined should be conducive to a good time, until you realise that the people most enthusiastic about free entry, free booze and socially disenchanted, fuzz punk Gold Coast duo Bleeding Knees Club, are a group of sweaty, destructive 20-year-olds with little regard for human decency. Preceding their performance with a particularly long set are Melbourne four-piece Drunk Mums.

But why so horrible you ask? Abandoned bottles and glasses are as good as smashed, quickly made apparent by a man in a sushi-adorned shirt giving aggressive demonstrations of how one should go about transforming a finished Budweiser into one thousand shards of glass. His educative method – smashing it furiously under foot – is obviously both effective and contagious if the minimal portion of floor not covered with glass is anything to go by. Escaping through the quilt-come-curtain into the smoking area fails to provide any relief, with sushi-man's methodology taken to a new level by punters who think it appropriate to simply throw the bottles anywhere, including at other punters. 

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Jake Egan, one of four Godzilla Bar founders running the evening, though hugely optimistic and enthusiastic about the weekly celebrations to date, says this is a particular clean-up he looks to with trepidation, and that it is one of the “tougher” crowds he's hosted. On the other hand, the music itself isn't quite so despicable, with both bands playing strong and clear sets. Drunk Mums maintain an audience that swells to the room's perimeters, while Bleeding Knees Club play their high-rotation hits such as Nothing To Do, Bad Guys and Girls Can Do Anything with buckets of energy and clarity. Both bands and crowd enjoy the novelty of surfing or being tossed over bodies splashed with unpleasantly miscellaneous fluids.

Suggesting to a bouncer that perhaps this isn't the most savoury crowd he's ever encountered, he responds with deadpan delivery above the noise, “I have a similar feeling…” But the venue is definitely worth seeing, and with only four parties remaining it's a good opportunity to farewell the Normandy as it once was, as well as checking out which acts are cast onto the remnants of a stage that looks like it was literally trodden on by the colossal Japanese beast himself.

Please excuse the cheesy sign-off, but organisers would have done themselves a favour to more accurately title the event, “Acts of Destruction,” obviously with reference to more than the building's current state of erection.