Live Review: DZ Deathrays @ Vinnie's Dive Bar

12 August 2023 | 11:27 am | Carley Hall
Originally Appeared In

A faultless gig with energy and chaos generated by DZ Deathrays fueled the entire show on 11 August.

DZ Deathrays

DZ Deathrays (Credit: David Herington)

More DZ Deathrays More DZ Deathrays

It’s tricky to tread the fine line between playing to sizeable crowds in big venues you know you’ve worked hard to get and feeling the warmth and energy of punters in petite, packed band rooms that hark back to the very first gigs you ever played.

With a 20-date national tour run, it’s as though Brisbane’s one-time two-piece DZ Deathrays haven’t had to burden themselves too much with the existential crisis of pandering to the big metro venues or sticking to their house party and dive bar roots. Because this run of shows pretty well covers them all, and their show tonight in one of the regional locales offers the band – and their fans – a taste of their early glory days when they hit the scene in the late 2000s. 

Sandwiched between the colourful bustle of Southport’s Chinatown and the dodgy side of the courthouse tram tracks is an overlooked hardcore venue that acts as a much-loved refuge from the general glitz of the Gold Coast.

It’s possibly a blessing that it remains largely under the radar in the self-touted GC central business district as previous alternative venues have fallen by the wayside in the past few years, swallowed up by bougie cafes and bars as the region boomed with non-stop development and a population surge post-pandemic. Vinnies Dive Bar is divey in the best sense of the word, and it’s why bands love playing here, even if they take a financial hit with the limited capacity to hold more than a couple of hundred punters. Think the Zoo in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley, only a quarter of the size with posters, stickers and scribbles galore but much stickier flooring.

Newcastle’s Dust feel right at home on the Vinnies stage. The five-piece bring with them a post-punk and slightly Brit-punk swagger that fits well within the teensy band room and is lapped up by the small but appreciative early crowd before them. Joint singers Gabriel Stove and Justin Teale both have a way with their forthright vocals, tight kit work, solid guitars, and a little bit of trilling alto sax, which goes a long way to keeping all eyes on their fun set.

Melbourne foursome Press Club amass an eager, solid turnout, and damn, are they loud. These guys have enjoyed an enviable rise since their earworm debut Headwreck a few years back. While frontwoman Natalie Foster is nothing but a charismatic punk queen, the levels aren’t 100%, so her punchy vocals are lost in the mix for the first few songs. But it evens out, and fan favourite Suburbia goes down a sweaty treat with Foster dangling from the ceiling before dropping into the crowd.

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter

This heaving little venue feels like it can’t hold another body, yet they still stream. It’s unsurprising; since 2008, DZ Deathrays have created a space for punters to get sweaty, close, and lit.

The Brisbane duo put in the hard yards early with relentless live shows and loads of touring, debuting when the focus was largely on the burgeoning and - at the time - fresh and wholesome indie folk-rock scene. DZ put their shows in the hands of their people, giving them the same old edgy, jagged rock and fierce vocal energy from singer Shane Parsons and drummer Simon Ridley, despite the fact they’ve now doubled in size to become a foursome.

The really refreshing thing about tonight’s show is that the venue’s lack of the usual theatrics like OTT lighting and party smoke means that the boys just stroll out from the stage shadows, say g’day and get down to it. It’s a guitar-heavy mix at first for upbeat opener Hope For The Best, and Parsons gets a bit buried beneath it, but it’s soon rectified and stays that way for the remainder of the night.

Not sure the crowd notice, and it’s fair to say that they definitely don’t care; the moment those first ragged guitar lines drop, it’s a push-shove circle pit haven for the front rowers. Remaining contents of icy drinks get lobbed, and people get airborne for brief periods, but legs akimbo crowd surfing and sweaty surging bodies get a firm but friendly push back into the fray. This is the environment that the DZ boys create, and it’s a bit addictive.

Parsons leads his band – flanked for some time by guitarist Lachlan Ewbank and now Violent Soho stalwart Luke Henery on bass – through a handful of new songs from the boys’ latest album R.I.F.F then plunges back into visceral old favourites like Less Out Of Sync, Total Meltdown, Reflective Skull and Ocean Exploder.

It probably wouldn’t have mattered what DZ played or even how well they played it because the energy and chaos they generate fuels the entire show. That said, those jagged guitar riffs and Parsons’ ‘tude-riddled delivery are faultless.

They don’t say much, some words of thanks and a few ‘fuck yeah, Gold Coasts’ after Parsons gets carried aloft by greedy hands when he jumps in for a surf, but they know how to wind the crowd up with buzzing intros and riff hints. Everyone’s favourite film clip, Wiggles cameo, comes to life with Like People, and DZ flagships Shred for Summer and Gina close things out, and it’s hard to tell if there’s a slight feeling of relief amid the hoarse calls for more.