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Live Review: Poison City Weekender

23 August 2014 | 12:36 pm | Brendan Hitchens

Knapsack, Luca Brasi, The Bennies, Clowns, The Gifthorse, Apart From This

More Clowns More Clowns

A grunge revival of sorts, Apart From This take from the 90’s and morph distorted riffs into post-hardcore choruses. The youngest band on the Poison City Records roster, it’s fitting they open Weekender, as they muster the 7:50pm crowd with a blistering and dynamic performance that sets the bar for the 30+ bands that will play over the course of the weekend.

After calling it quits in early 2010, Brisbane band The Gifthorse has haphazardly played a handful of shows since. The release of their new album later this month, Give My Body To This Town, signifies the true reformation of the band and despite the rest of the pack catching up in their absence, they haven’t lost the knack of finely crafting a melodic punk rock tune.

Clowns’ unpredictability has become predictable as front man Stevie Williams balances on fold-back speakers, crowd surfs through audience arms and climbs the venues various scaffolding. It’s now part and parcel of their live show and while spirited, masks their short, shouty songs that aren’t as urgent, dangerous or alluring as their performance. A late Meanies cover adds depth to a set that draws largely from their 2013 album I’m Not Right.

With song titles such as Acid On My Brain, Mushroom Tea and Sensi-Mi, there’s not an ounce of subtlety to The Bennies. What could be polarising in other circumstances is tonight well and truly in their favour, as they play to a full house of fans that lap up every second of radio favourites Anywhere You Wanna Go and Highrider. The band’s sound is a bastardisation of punk, reggae and hip hop, evidenced by Knights Forever, which casually references The Streets, Toots and The Maytals and The Angles more than just lyrically.

Since their performance at Weekender 2013 Tasmania’s Luca Brasi has lost a guitarist but gained an album worth of songs. Though not quite as eloquent as label mates The Smith Street Band, Tyler Richardson’s lyrics elicit a similar earnest result. “At least I'm not the only one / We're in this together,” he sings on Theme Song From HQ in a powerful interaction between band and audience. When hundreds of people are shouting your songs back to you, you’re doing something very right.

Formed in 1993, Knapsack is a throwback to the crossover emo and indie-rock bands that graced the decade. In some form, there’s no disputing they played an influence on much of the Poison City roster, but tonight they are shown up by their younger counterparts. A warm up show the night before has clearly taken its toll on vocalist/guitarist Blair Shehan’s voice as he strains for each note. For a label on the rise and very much in the now, to hear a band that hasn’t written a new song since 1998 is an odd way to end an otherwise rousing night.