Live Review: Jackson Firebird Retreat

11 June 2012 | 4:04 pm | Esther Rivers

just the way rock’n’roll should be

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River Of Snakes are smokin'. Bass player Elissa Rose is just about setting the stage on fire. Better yet, the lady can play. The room is light and the mirror ball twirls disco dots on still masticating dinners as a couple of die-hard fluoro-haired rockers swagger in front of the stage. Belting straight into Smashing The Beast, people begin to decline their chairs and saunter toward the stage to get a closer look at this extraordinary noise expellant.

Track Aurora (self-described by crazed frontman Raul Sanchez as an “illuminescent phenomenon”), shows us River Of Snakes are living up to their fast growing reputation of pulsing, sexy, distortion punk that flies out from the stage and kicks you in the proverbial gonads. “Thanks for coming down… cunts,” says Sanchez, before burping into the microphone and launching into a whiplash rendition of Bikini Kill's Rebel Girl. Around the moment Sanchez puts the entire microphone in his mouth is the moment we've cemented our seats at their next show, germ risks for the next singer aside.

Lights go down, tables are put to the side and bodies file onto the floor as the thumping sound of a mic'd up, soup'd up 'bottle bin' is beaten on the floor of the stage. Heavy, blues-driven riffs dive atop the beat and, with the addition of megaphone-effect vocals, we are thrown headlong into a Firebird explosion. In case you were wondering, if Creedence Clearwater Revival, Splatterheads and Bob Log III were to produce a love child, Jackson Firebird is what it might sound like. There is an open '90s influence aboard a raw, blues-driven rock edge where everything is tweaked to a stellar level; their speed and precision are utterly impressive (we think guitarist Brendan Harvey may have lost the tip of a finger at one point) and both men have sexy, strong vocals to boot. Yet there is almost a parody involved in the performance, a satirical twist to their lyrics and physical approach (their debut album is titled Cock Rockin') that suggests they don't take themselves too seriously, while still having one helluva good time.

“Thanks for coming down on a Thurrrrrrsday,” growls Harvey, as drummer Dale Hudak adjusts the sweatband around his forehead. To the rapturous applause of the onlookers, their last song begins with Hudak doing a flying leap from an amp and ends with him in a double-handed devil rock salute from the floor. Unfortunately they don't really have anywhere to travel after this grand finish, so the encore probably could have been left off, thus ending the show on an ultimate high. However, it is dazzling, skilful and entertaining just the way rock'n'roll should be.

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