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Live Review: Clowns, Hard-Ons, Night Birds, The Neptune Power Federation

12 June 2017 | 4:19 pm | Mark Hebblewhite

"[Clowns have] clearly left their sloppy early days behind."

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The Neptune Power Federation were an absolute blast.

They looked like a cross between Siouxsie & The Banshees and Motörhead, and sounded like Jess & The Ancient Ones discovering old Buffalo LPs while Bloody Hammers knocked on the window, demanding to be let in. There's nothing like these guys, and their set — part performance art, part musical tour de force — was refreshingly unique.

Night Birds are often (and rightly, this writer might add) hailed one of the greatest new punk-rock bands in the world today — and their superb live show simply reinforced that, for once, a band can live up to the hype. Blasting off with Born To Die In Suburbia, the quartet was relentless, ripping through the highlights of a superb back-catalogue with ease. With a surf-rock-on-steroids sound that brought to mind the early majesty of Dead Kennedys, a welcome sense of urgency, and not a shred of pretension or ego, Night Birds tore the place apart and left everyone wanting more.

Although there was no way they were going to top that set, the Hard-Ons rocked out hard, as they travelled back and forth through an impressive discography. Quite simply, these guys don't play bad gigs and, like the hometown heroes they've long been, the boys enjoyed a rapturous response from a room full of people who grew up on their records.

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To finish up proceedings, Clowns delivered their trademark brand of live chaos including a decent chunk of their universally acclaimed new LP, Lucid Again. With their fuzzed-out waves of punk-rock goodness, and a live attack honed by appearances across the globe, the Melburnians had clearly left their sloppy early days behind, without sacrificing any of the spontaneity and passion that made them so good in the first place. Clowns' success has been well earned, and it will be interesting to see where they go from here.