Live Review: Scalphunter, Super Best Friends, The Yokohomos, Big Jesus

7 September 2015 | 4:52 pm | Nicolette Ward

At times, the subversive and punchy lyrics of Johnny Barrington were hard to decipher against the punk beat that marched them to war.

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The back room of the Newport, known for its pub-rock grit, proudly played host to a line-up of cathartic and politico punk that screamed out its angst as a sign of these mean-spirited times. 

Starting off relatively gently was Big Jesus, a solo act that samples distorted fuzz guitar and white noise and then beat loops it for a hypnotic effect. The Yokohomos then supersized the ante in a manner that was hard to beat for the night, their sound featuring a big badass bass and escalating tension that the simple label punk rock does no justice. Sounding so much fuller than their EPs, the guitar work of Brendan Biddiss was elegant when holding back before exploding in a fuzz of distortion, the thumping bass and drum work of Luke Scales and Brendan Polain respectively setting up the ritualistic backing for the catharsis that was about to erupt. 

Unperturbed by the smallness of the audience, singer Oscar Jack didn't hold back as he claimed the common people's space from the get-go, showcasing his epileptic and catatonic movements by cascading over the speaker stack and off the stage to writhe around the floor for the opening track, while the punters circled around in voyeuristic shock. All that was needed was a mud pit and some audience participation and this show could have released all our demons faster than a year of psycho-babble therapy. With some touching, tender moments during Face Eat Yes, Oscar's wide-ranging howls were able to get tender though not for long, as the spectrum of his high-treble screams peaked again and again, notably for Fuck That Dude In The Head, where it sounded like a serpent was being vomited from the bowels of Jack's being. A healing thing.    

Hailing from Canberra, three-piece Super Best Friends got straight onto business with a tight rendition of their politico-punk social commentary brewed from the dissent of having to live in parliament town where both sides are Moving Backward and using coded language to fool the masses in Dog Whistling (a term coined during the Howard years of children overboard as messages that could only be understood by the 'dogs', much like the high-frequency whistle). Sydney town and the demise of live music venues also came in for a battering in Gentrified, a passionate plea in defense of the grimy inner-city. At times, the subversive and punchy lyrics of Johnny Barrington were hard to decipher against the punk beat that marched them to war. Important to be heard.

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Finishing off the angst for the night was Scalphunter, living up to their fierce name and unleashing pure metal fury before a 10pm bedtime.