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Live Review: Tumbleweed, Heavy Roller, Sacred Shrines

8 September 2015 | 9:52 am | Steve Bell

"the crowd looks like some weird high school reunion featuring all the long-haired stoner kids from every school"

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Burgeoning local psych troupe Sacred Shrines open proceedings tonight, seemingly taking their cues from first generation psych outfits like '60s Texan crazies The 13th Floor Elevators, and while they don't have anyone playing electric jug they sure have an unearthly drone underlying nearly everything they do. The songs are well crafted and catchy and the jangly guitars offset a trippy ambience nicely, the band adroitly moving through a few musical styles while keeping everything defiantly retro in tone.  

Fellow Brisbanites Heavy Roller also have one eye on the past, except they sound like they crawled out of a Palm Desert generator party circa-1994. Thick grooves and pummeling guitars prevail and it should be no surprise given their oeuvre to spy former Rollerball skinsman Cam Roach behind the kit. Their titular track Heavy Roller is a dark, pulsating and primal beast, while numbers like Getting By and Barfly exhibit molten grooves and they fittingly complete a terrifyingly blistering set by dedicating Demon to recently passed horror maestro Wes Craven.

The crowd looks like some weird high school reunion featuring all the long-haired stoner kids from every school as Wollongong legends Tumbleweed arrive to celebrate the 20-year birthday of their awesome second album Galactophonic, but any element of surprise which is lost as they attack the album in order is made up for in sheer power and musicianship. Frontman Richie Lewis may be dressed elegantly but you can't hide your roots, and he channels his flannel-clad younger self with ease as tracks like Hang Around, TV Genocide (with its cascade of weird circular riffs), Nothin' To Do With The Weather and Armchair Ride come and go, each sounding as smooth and vital as they did back in the day. The four familiar Weed faces are joined by Hytest bassist Luke Armstrong - who's filling touring four-string duties due to the sad passing of Jay Curley last year - but its sonically pristine, and the years strip away like cracked paint on an old farm shed as they continue through the album, heads banging in unison on stage and off during numbers like Feed The River, Circus Sideshow and crowd fave Gyroscope. As the mayhem of Pocket Veto/Interstellar Overdrive fades out signifying the end of the album' proper there's an extra jolt of energy shot through the crowd as the Weed go into greatest hits mode, Daddy Long Legs really getting things heaving right off the bat. They throw in some rarities like B-side Round The Bend and their awesome cover of The Dirty Lovers' Shanty Town, before Sundial tears the room a new one, and the party continues for a while yet before wrapping up with Rainbow Waterwillow eases us into the night. This band remains the real deal - far more than a facsimile - and accordingly tonight feels much more imperative than a mere jaunt down memory lane it so easily could have been.