Highlights a plenty yesterday at Melbourne's Dig It Up! Non stop action and rock n roll entertainment for a solid eight hours. It was a long and fabulous day. The following is a brief account of the general vibe. I won't go into too much detail so as not to make anyone that didn't make it to the "gig of the century" weep. Thank you to the Hoodoo Gurus for giving us one of the best days of our lives.
I arrived at The Metro at around 3pm. The Hard-Ons were banging out their usual brand of enthusiastic guitar punk rock that is tempered by some pretty sweet pop, hip shake inducing vocal melodies. I'd like to know the secret for Blackie ( guitarist) and Ray's (bass) seemingly never ending fountain of youth. For a Band that formed in 1981 they never fail to date physically or musically. They took me back to a time when everything was new and exciting and blew me away just a strongly as they have ever done. Awesome.
The nature of the tag team style set up of these types of festivals means that if you want to see everyone on your list you may have to sacrifice the last 10 minutes of one set in order to benefit from seeing the last 30 minutes of another. So, it was with a little sadness that I left the Hard-ons to their last couple of songs as I headed up to "The Attic" for Melbourne's 60's garage darlings, The Frowning Clouds. They too, put on a top shelf show even though they they were missing a member. Like the Murlocs, who I would see later on, you can't help but scratch your head in wonder at the musicianship and feel for the inspired 60's style tunes they belt out with so much precision and depth for persons so young. How do they do it? I reckon their parents must have had awesome record collections they played incessantly while the Frowning Clouds were kids.
Then it was back downstairs for The Fleshtones on the main stage. Awesome, awesome, awesome! Not only did the Fleshtones perform the most spectacular stage choreography, they did it without missing a beat. Talks about good times. NY surf/punk rock n roll at it's finest. These boys had the crowd in the palm of their hand for 45 minutes. The energy coming from the stage and speakers kept all eyes and ears on The Fleshtones as they jumped into the crowd with their axes and eventually made their way right out of the building and disappeared at the end of their set. The crowd was left with a stage empty of musicians but alive with the music the vanishing Fleshtones were still playing somewhere. Magic.
Post Fleshtones, it was time to make some hard decisions, you could either pop up to see the last 25 minutes of the Lovetones or skip over to Pony for the sensational Murlocs. The Murlocs won. Though a little more bluesy and soulful than the Frowning Clouds these guys come from West Coast Victoria as well. Something in the water? Lead singer Amrbrose Kenny-Smith mixes up lead vocal duties with killer blues harp. If Wanda Jackson was a young man, she would sound like Ambrose. I've seen the Murlocs before and they seemed a little uncomfortable today, there's five of them and that is a lot of musicians to cram onto the little stage at Pony, they played great but I felt like they were holding back a little.
Word on the street from Dig It Up! Sydney was that Steve Wynn was a standout performance. They weren't lying. Back in "The Attic " hundreds of people squeezed in to listen to Steve Wynn accompanied by a couple of The Fleshtones and his wife Linda Pitmon on drums. At this point I was happy to stand in the crowd with my eyes closed and let the sound envelop me. Fantastic. The next scheduled event to take place was Redd Kross, I could have listened to Steve Wynn for another five hours, however Redd Kross were the cause of the excitement butterflies I had been experiencing since I awoke yesterday morning, I left Steve Wynn early to grab a good position.
The highlight of Dig It Up! for me was Redd Kross. Those McDonald brothers are just too good to exist, resist, etc. You can always measure the good times by how soaked your shirt becomes and how much of your voice you lose. My shirt was drenched and I had no voice by the time Redd Kross played their 45 minute set that actually only felt like a 5 minute set. It went by like lightening. Redd Kross proved once and for all why they are perhaps one of, if not the greatest live rock n roll band ever. Non stop hits punched out at the crowd, blow after blow of guitars bass and drums not to mention awesome vocals from brothers Jeff and Steve. I wasn't the only lady in the front row, but you can bet all the ladies felt like they were the only one. I don't know that there is a word to describe the greatness of Redd Kross.
After Redd Kross, there was a significant period of time required to debrief and come back down to earth. Following that, Died Pretty took to the main stage before The Sonics and Hoodoo Gurus were to take the stage. I don't think I had really come back to earth for Died Pretty, I was still in la la land reliving every moment of Redd Kross. By all accounts the Died Pretty set was awesome.
And then... THE SONICS ! Woohoo! The rock n roll legends blew the crowd away with a never ending set of hit after hit, the next one more exciting than the last. Seriously, it was like opening a Christmas stocking at aged seven and the excitement that builds on top of excitement, eventually flooring you with elation. The sound could have been better with the sax coming in and out of the mix intermittently, but no cause for irritation, because it was just so brilliant to listen and see the Sonics live. True legends. Anyone that got tickets to the show at The Caravan Club this Friday night are in for a massive treat. Joyous.
The Hoodoo Gurus celebrated their 30th Birthday magnificently. In a perfect set with a perfect mix, they rocked the crowd through "Stoneage Romeos" in its entirety. The sound for the Gurus was particularly awesome, you could hear every nuance of every electric note in every song and this had the effect of blasting you from your standing position to a higher plane.
The highlight of the Gurus set was something I will never forget. An encore which included The Victims " Television Addict". Thank goodness I hadn't used up all my lives cos the heart attack of delight at the opening bars of Television Addict could have killed me with joy. The crowd went absolutely bananas after the Hoodoo Gurus left the stage for the final time and no amount of yelling and foot stomping could get them back on. I managed to grab a set list from a kindly crew member at the end if the night and interestingly hits like Bittersweet and Wipe Out amongst others were listed to be played, but were not. There was much conjecture over said set list, anger, sadness, betrayal, indifference....for my money it didn't matter. The Hoodoo Gurus were amazing and to see them play " Television Addict" was better than anything I could have imagined in my wildest dreams. I walked away one ecstatic camper.
Here are REDD KROSS at the Sydney DIG IT UP!