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Gig Review: Thorax + supports

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Thorax + Nunchukka Superfly + Baby Machine + Glory Hole + Fallow Ground
Black Wire Records, Sydney
12 June 2015
Review by Gary Grim

For the uninitiated, Black Wire Records in Sydney is a punk record store and performance space. When I say “punk”, I am definitely tapping into the DIY, experimental, left of centre aspect of the genre. The bands that play music that is sometimes sloppy but always genuine. The bands that play music not in a vain attempt to be rock stars but because they have to play it, they have something to say and this is the way they can truly express themselves and their opinions. The show that I saw on this night was the perfect representation of that kind of ethos.

Fallow Ground are a somewhat mysterious entity. Trying to find any information about them online seems futile. The band are comprised of two members, a bass player and a cellist who share vocal duties. They are backed by a drum machine and a series of effects and loop pedals all of which helped provide backing vocal loops and reverb drenched soundscape accompaniment. They sounded at times quite bleak but with a haunting beauty provided by the cello and the voice of their bass player (who I believe is from Denmark? Like I said, there’s not much info around about them). When their cellist took over on vocal duties, she provided a rawer, punk vibe to their sound. Their set was short but striking, these ladies pushed boundaries with experimentation and portrayed a post-punk vibe with some gothic sensibilities.

Glory Hole were short, sharp and to the point like a fist to the face. Frantic and fast punk with some seriously powerful vocals, screaming about not taking shit about being LBGTIQ or any other orientation. About not giving a fuck about the opinions of ignorant, judgemental bigots and not letting them treat you like a lesser being. As they say on their Facebook page, they were “queer as f*ck, punk as f*ck”. Their songs were fast and loud, this band rarely let up. On the rare occasions that they did slow down, they remained heavy and almost doomy. It was a loose but intense performance.

Baby Maker were really fun. These three ladies from Wollongong played some rowdy, old school pub rock in the vein of Bon Scott era AC/DC with catchy and brash riffs. Their songs ranged in topic from the Wollongong council to the evils of coal seam gas and were performed with tongue in cheek humour and over the top rock poses. Their drummer, Bec, has some fierce vocal abilities made even stronger with backing vocals from the rest of the band. It was clear that Baby Maker were having a blast and that energy clearly transferred to the large crowd that was beginning to pack out the venue.

Nunchukka Superfly are a hard band to pin down. I’ve never seen or heard a performance like theirs before and have been left speechless every time I’ve been to one of their shows. They’re often touted as a punk or hard rock band but add to that elements of heavy prog-infused psychedelia and perhaps you’re a little closer to the truth. As Ray and Julien laid down a solid foundation to these songs, Blackie thrashed at his guitar whilst being totally attuned to it, almost as though the instrument was an extension of his hallucinations. A bit of technical difficulty during one of their new songs did nothing to mar this excellent set.

Album launchers Thorax are another band whose music is difficult to define. They meld elements of groove laden doom metal, punk, stoner and more into their own crazy style. In the unfortunate absence of the group’s vocalist, Kallie, the crowd were treated to impromptu vocal performances on a few songs by Bekka (Grey Places) and TJ (Canine, Glory Hole), both taking lyrics from pieces of paper but both also giving intense, screaming renditions of the words. The rest of the songs were multi-faceted instrumental pieces that were heavy, tight and captivating. Having no vocalist to take over crowd-banter duties between songs, bassist Kipp interacted with the audience that were tightly packed into the room (there was quite a bit of back and forth between Kipp and a drunken old mate in the front who, amongst other things, requested that the band play their “best song”). When the set drew to a conclusion, the room was yelling for an encore but had to go without. I guess if they wanted to hear more, they would have to buy the album being launched that night (which can be found here).

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