Ahead of this gig in Melbourne I had a chat with the boys from Osaka Punch, in a very seedy alleyway, five minutes walk from the venue. They seemed like a very fun and happy bunch of blokes, and I was thinking to myself ‘we are in for a ball at the show tonight’ and as it turned out, we were.
The first set of this highly varied and entertaining three-pronged assault of rock this evening kicks off with Melbourne four-piece Overproof Groove. A casual observer might call this band ‘nu-metal’ (and I am far from one of the ‘I hate all nu-metal’ crowd) but whatever the case they certainly have heads bobbing with their propulsive grooves and highly extroverted performance. The performance of bassist Rigidy Rourke was a highlight, he is absolutely in the groove and has a massive sound. Frontman Caleb Durrant has a fair old howl on him too.
Overproof Groove are super-cool, in a sort of uncool way and I’m sure they are more than happy with that description.
The evening then took a sharp turn into left field as Melbourne’s A Lonely Crowd came on and caressed the growing crowd with their unique take on the progressive rock idiom. This band is certainly an acquired taste but once you’ve acquired it, they take you on a highly enjoyable ride. Frontwoman Xen Havales has an amazing set of pipes and a quirky, but very natural stage persona and the band is tight as a fist, with much of that stemming from Scott Ancell’s precise but ridiculously busy drumming.
A Lonely Crowd are sometimes grooving, sometimes quite discordant (although in an enjoyable way), at times exhilarating, sometimes strictly instrumental, but always to the left of centre.
Osaka Punch are a band that have been around for years, but it seems that they have only really just appeared on radars in the last year or so. As that’s the case for this little black duck, boy am I glad they have!
It’s been a fantastic year for live music, especially on the Australian front. We’ve had so many great talents of our scene travel the country and put on stunning shows but I would count this as one of my absolute favourite live sets of the year. Osaka Punch’s sound is ultra-funky, jazzy at times even, but they know exactly how to rock the fuck out at the same time. In fact, this band combine the technical skill of prog rock and metal players, the danceable groove and sheer coolness of a pro funk band and the catchiness of an accessible pop act into an almost perfect juxtaposition of elements.
And rising above it all is the smooth, assured, confident vocals and charismatic manner of frontman Jack Muzak. He had the crowd in the sweaty palm of his hand the entire set, right through to the blistering, thundering drum-driven encore.
Their set covered much of their recently released mini-album Death Monster Super Squad as well as their previous EP Voodoo Love Machine and did so with class, talent and good humour.
I think these guys are just one of the coolest funky-arse rock bands I’ve ever seen! They may not be a household name yet, but Osaka Punch are a must-see.