Live Review: Strung Out, PEARS, The Lizards

18 March 2016 | 2:10 pm | Will Oakeshott

"[with] the unbridled energy of 20-year-olds, they proved that punk can truly cure what ails you."

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The festival season may be over in Adelaide but the festivities have definitely not stopped. It seemed fitting that the mad March theme be maintained by an injection of punk rock, which inspired an impressive amount of South Australian rebels to misbehave as the culture of this music encourages us to do.

This writer couldn't have picked a better opening act than Adelaide's The Lizards, the trio of SoCal punk-inspired men live and breathe the formula of punk rock. Akin to the headliners and many more (Bad Religion, Ten Foot Pole), the three-piece's spirited performance easily captured the attention of the audience. The Raging Bull and Panel Van Party incited the best responses from the crowd, but it was vocalist/guitarist Pat Ramm's stellar presence that really glowed. Channeling Kurt Cobain vocally at times, his precision metallic guitar flirtations among the Frenzal Rhomb-stimulated punk backing was awe-inspiring.

If the opening outfit was the proper and perfect choice to support the headliner, PEARS was the peculiar addition that transported every attendee into a different dimension. So confusing, in fact, that it's nearly impossible to label them. The New Orleans-based oddballs combine melodic hardcore-meets-punk-meets-sludge-meets-mathcore recipes, which understandably had observers in spirited confusion. Vocalist Zach Quinn was rampant in his presence, fluctuating between yelling, screeching, harmonic singing and careless gymnastics (even with a broken wrist in a sling). If 'math-punkcore' were a genre, PEARS created it; a bastard child of NOFX, Black Flag, See You Next Tuesday and Burning Witch, it was abnormal but fascinating. Featuring songs mostly from their Go To Prison album, the audience may have been left mostly baffled as a result, but were also strangely aroused by what transpired. Hopefully the quartet return shortly to give Australians a 'take two' to better comprehend their eccentric blueprint.

The crowd needed something a little more easily recognisable by this point — maybe some metallic-melodic punk to sing along to — and Californian five-piece Strung Out happily obliged. They've played records in full at previous shows on this tour of our fine nation, but Adelaide proved the exception with the band presenting an array of their back-catalogue. This was monumental and possibly the largest set of songs the quintet have ever executed live, including Never Good Enough, In Harm's Way, Vanity, Solitaire, Paperwalls, Rats In The Walls, Razor Sex, Blew, Reason To Believe, Unkoil and numerous others. Without a doubt this was something to treasure, but it also became tiring to a degree, adding a 'lull' to Strung Out's 'lullaby'. But with interludes of Michael Jackson within songs and the unbridled energy of 20-year-olds, they proved that punk can truly cure what ails you. 

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