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Live Review: These New South Whales, Party Dozen, Rebel Yell, Lexicon

15 October 2018 | 12:50 pm | Nicolas Huntington

"A showcase of what punk means in 2018."

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Brisbane has finally reached the wet season and every day is slowly becoming a dark blur of rain all day and all night. In some morbid way, it seems like perfect weather for a band such as These New South Whales, whose brand of Aussie punk oozes the droning character of a long rainy night – brutal. Promising to take our haircuts clean off at the Woolly Mammoth on a Saturday night, we go in with very high expectations.

Opening the night to a lukewarm crowd are Lexicon, who have been constantly upping their live presence. Usually, you would see Lexicon at a venue that allows lead singer Phoebe Sheehy to get into the crowd with the mic and orchestrate the madness from the pit. Tonight Lexicon keep it quite restrained though, just powering through a tight set of in-your-face punk with no banter, just fierce numbers. Lexicon are a force to be reckoned with in the Brissie punk scene and you need to check them out now.

When Rebel Yell hits the stage with just her table of audio gear it’s a different story. Mashing four-to-the-floor techno which dips in and out of absolute mayhem with lo-fi yells over the top, the crowd are at first completely taken aback but before too long intrigue is piqued and they wander closer. The Rebel Yell set wouldn’t seem out of place at any club on Brunswick Street Mall, but opening for These New South Whales, it’s a bit disorienting. When you take a step back and realise how intense the beats and general demeanour of Rebel Yell’s material is though, you start to see just how punk techno can be.

Party Dozen are a band that like to make themselves as hard to describe as possible in terms of genre. Fusing elements from eccentric jazz legends such as Miles Davis with the unhinged drumming and sampling you see from Zach Hill and Death Grips, it’s magic to watch. Simply they are a two-piece with a saxophone out front while the drummer moonlights as a DJ. Their entire set gathers a huge crowd as you would expect considering how off-the-wall their sound is. Saxophonist Kirsty Tickle is the showman of the duo and struts across the stage with her sax in tow. It’s rare we hear an instrument become such a different version of its past self, but with bass boosting and delay aplenty, the sax is completely reimagined. Playing plenty of tracks from release The Living Man, the whole set is one big improvisational jam which is how Party Dozen like it.

Headliners These New South Whales finally reach the stage, with a smaller crowd than expected but one with ferocious moshing in mind. They are a band that walk a fine line between comedy and punk at all times. Opener Ceremony sees singer Jamie Timony already dabbling with the classic schtick of the voice changer. We Don’t Need You Anymore sees an early singalong between the hustle and bustle of the mosh. Early highlight Are You Au Fait? gives us the classic fast riffs and witty lyrics of These New South Whales that we came for in spades. Timony is surprisingly quiet throughout the first half of the set other than the usual, “Turn up!” yells we’ve all come to love him for. Recent singles Waste Of Time and Space In Hell get the crowd moving but it’s the drive of Meat Hook that gets the biggest reception from punters. But surprisingly, the energy of the whole set is trumped by left-hook hit Mumma's Tit that comes towards the end. A track made notorious in the band's mockumentary series, it has taken the top spot for most punters it seems. They exit stage right early but it is not for long as, "These New South Whales," chants start to turn gravelly. Yet again the boys make you question whether they are a joke band or a real band as they play their shortest number No Bridge Left To Burn -  a track which clocks in at 22 seconds - and then leave the stage again. Thankfully, this isn’t the end of the night as they return to the stage for classic Adam and radio hit Cholesterol Heart (God Bless Ya). But first, some very important impressions from Timony, including the iconic Marge Simpson as well as Aussies Mel Gibson and Russell Crowe are thrown in for good measure.

The line-up tonight is a showcase of what punk means in 2018, starting with the classic dirty sound of Lexicon, the electronic abrasive type punk of Rebel Yell, an infusion between freeform jazz and punk rhythm with Party Dozen, and the slicked back clean modern punk sound of These New South Whales.