On Sunday night the Phoenix hosted a massive bill of punk flavoured music.
The night starts early with local bands Killing Birds and Bad Lifers playing short sets before the self proclaimed tropical punk kings of Canberra The Fighting League take to the stage. The Fighting League have been playing around town for a few years now and while front man is still ridiculously self-assured, I think on tonight's performance their talent is starting to catch up to his confidence. More good things to come from these guys?
Slug Guts vocalist James Dalgleish - dressed in leather gloves, pants, and jacket (no shirt) with dark aviators and a moustache on his face - looks the every bit the filthy rock star. His drawling uninterpretable vocals are a perfect fit for the band's raw swampy sound. Raw and swampy should not be mistaken for poor and lazy - Slug Guts are a tight act, with slow heavy drumming backing up thick baselines and weaving guitar/saxophone rhythms. On paper it sounds like a disaster but they are good enough to pull it off.
The only criticism I have of Slug Guts is that, for the first time listener, their consistent sound makes it hard to distinguish one song from the next.
Finally Eat Skull arrive on stage, but are unwilling to start their set until those lounging on the back room couches stand up and give them their full attention. The couches are pushed to the corners of the room (you will never guess what I found under a couch at the phoenix - yuk) and everyone crams in at the front of the stage.
A snapped guitar string, some poor jokes and a few lame but loud heckles give the show a slow and shambolic start. This is not at all helped by the near constant flow of people over the stage, ducking behind the band and into the toilets. Once things do get going, the songs vary from the quick and catchy noise pop of Cooking Our Way To Be Happy and Don't Leave Me On The Speaker to stretched out psych-garage Happy Submarine.
Singer Rob Enbom's cartoon-like facial expressions are amusing but it is the wild ungainly percussion of Rod Meyer that demands the most attention. When Meyer is not banging his tambourine against a BBQ hot plate or hitting his drum sticks on an empty keg, he is downing shots and rolling around on the filthy floor. The show gets really loose when, during The Doors cover and rock standard Roadhouse Blues, the now sweat-drenched Meyer shoves his way into the audience to dance with, hug and rumble anyone (un)fortunate enough to get in his way. Everyone else steps back and sings a chaotic version of the "Roll Baby Roll" chorus.
At the end of this fun night, I leave the Phoenix with a dull ringing in my ears and a confused smile on my face.