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Live Review: Unwritten Law, The Drop Bears, The Dead Love, Bukowski

12 February 2018 | 5:19 pm | Tobias Handke

"Easily the album's biggest hit, Cailin entices a mass singalong as phones obscure most people's vision."

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It's a stacked line-up of bands tonight with Melbourne quartet Bukowski up first delivering a selection of upbeat, pop-punk tracks. There's a tinge of '90s nostalgia about them, keeping to the theme for tonight's headliners.

Sydney's The Dead Love keep the '90s love rolling with an inspired collection of grunge-meets-punk rock numbers as the crowd begins to build. By the time The Drop Bears appear, the crowd is well and truly lubricated and ready to get down with the Melbourne pub rockers. They do their best to keep the energy levels high with riff-heavy guitar solos before finishing with a cover of The Easybeats' Friday On My Mind.

Unwritten Law's two decade-plus love affair with Australia is a two-way street with the sold-out crowd buying tour merch like it's going out of fashion. People are genuinely excited to see a band that hasn't put out a new album in almost eight years, proving nostalgia is still a big selling point among the over-30 crowd. Touring to celebrate and perform their 1998 self-titled record, Unwritten Law are awarded a heroes' welcome as they slowly meander out on stage, beginning with the album's opening track Harmonic.

"Fuck, yes!" exclaims bleached-blonde frontman Scott Russo. "Hi, welcome to 'The Black Album'. It's been 20 years," he continues before Teenage Suicide creates a moshpit that seemingly lasts all night. Having not heard the album in years, it's amazing how many good songs are on it. From the power-pop of California Sky through to the frantic thrash of Coffin Text and their Blink 182 rip-off Close Your Eyes, Unwritten Law is a fantastic album that perfectly captures the late-'90s Californian punk scene. Easily the album's biggest hit, Cailin entices a mass singalong as phones obscure most people's vision. Lonesome and Underground include extended bridges during which Russo gets the crowd clapping and pumped-up for more. Before I Go is dedicated to the memory of Rick Parashar, who produced the album, before the head-banging Genocide leads into hidden track 418.

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A small break ensues as the backdrop changes from 'The Black Album' cover to a large Unwritten Law banner and the band reappear for a selection of fan-favourites. Russo has exchanged his black, long-sleeved shirt for a tank top and guitar, and looks ready to rock. Rescue Me, Seein' Red and Shoulda Known Better have security guards struggling to deal with the large number of crowd-surfers kicking off down the front. "We've shared our lives together. Thank you," Russo says in recognition of the bond between the band and their fans before tackling acoustic version of I Like The Way and Welcome To Oblivion. Losing the crowd slightly during these two quieter numbers, She Says and Save Me (Wake Up Call) get things back on track before a gut-busting Up All Night brings the second set to a close.

Unwritten Law manage a quick encore, ending the evening on a high with a cover of Grinspoon's More Than You Are, with their Australian love story looking set to continue for many years to come.