It was a cold, rainy and dreary Wednesday last night last night in Brisbane, casting a heavy shadow of gloom and sleepiness over the otherwise bustling city. But, as luck would have it, our home country heroes The Bennies had arrived to warm everyone up with their off-the-wall but addictive blend of reggae, punk and psychedelia. Arriving in Australia fresh off a European tour and treating Brisbane to their first show back on Aussie turf, The Bennies are touring in Support of their stellar new album, Natural Born Chillers. The Triffid served as their stomping-ground for the night, with band members and audience members alike relaxing and mingling in the beer garden before the show; the warm and cheery atmosphere in the venue helped to offset the rain and cold that pervaded the outdoor air. Along for the ride as support acts were two well-known fellow Aussie bands called Young Offenders and Gooch Palms. Both groups proved to be excellent choices, managing to get the crowd to loosen up with humour and ease as they absolutely tore up the stage in preparation for the insanity of The Bennies.
By the time doors opened at 8pm, the initial low audience attendance made me begin to worry that the night was going to fall flat. For a band so widely loved by our nation, I had high hopes that The Bennies’ show would sell far better than it did. Regardless, I was happily proven wrong as Young Offenders took to the stage at 8:30, bringing with them a steady stream of punters who rapidly filled the room. The Adelaide three-piece’s cheery demeanour was perfectly suited to their raucous but well-defined rock vibe with the occasional pop hook and surf rock riff thrown in just for fun, which proved to be the perfect recipe to get everyone dancing and having fun. Young Offenders thoroughly impressed me with balls-to-the-wall rock songs like You Be You and Your Daddy Is Above the Law, getting even the stubbornest of heads to bang. Over too soon, Young Offenders left the stage with grins on their faces while the crowd clapped and yelled in appreciation.
By 9:20pm, quite a crowd had assembled to witness the quirky hilarity that was Newcastle’s very own two-piece called Gooch Palms. Boasting a raw and upbeat surf-punk sound brought by drummer Kat Friend and guitarist/vocalist Leroy Macqueen, it was clear that Gooch Palms were a crowd favourite as they ripped through songs like Tiny Insight and We Get By. Witty quips, sarcasm and crude jokes from the dynamic duo had everyone in the audience laughing heartily between songs before moshing enthusiastically as the band played through their set with wild abandon. Drummer Kat Friend’s simplistic standing drum-kit setup was unique and effective, providing simple beats that complimented Macqueen’s rough guitar perfectly. Despite their seemingly rudimentary musical abilities and rough-around-the-edges sound that only seems to add to their charm, Gooch Palms had more than enough heart, passion and humour to bring their set to a chaotic and vibrant finish.
Finally, with the Triffid almost full to the brim with fans, The Bennies sauntered onstage to deafening applause. Without much ado, the band launched into their set and suddenly the entire front half of the audience was a giant mosh-pit. As well as Brisbane being their first show back in Australia, it was also their first show with their new bassist, Nicholas Williams. Williams won the crowd over with his brilliant bass solo during Party Machine and he looked like he couldn’t possibly be any happier to be onstage with one of Australia’s best bands.
Before long the smell of marijuana was heavy under the arching ceiling of the Triffid – as is expected at any Bennies show- with punters happily lighting up in the midst of the crowd, adding to the all-round relaxed and happy vibe. There were times when Anty himself was leaning down from the stage to pass joints and beers back and forth with his fans, showing how little this band cares for the laws and stigma surrounding their favourite substance, made even more transparent when they played their bluntly confrontational song, Legalise.
The Bennies contained an unstoppable energy that was reflected tenfold by the audience when the band smashed through crowd-favourites like Heavy Disco, Corruption and Party Machine, as Jules’s wild guitar solos backed by Bowie’s drumming hurled the already rampant mosh-pit into a complete frenzy of thrashing bodies. Of course, The Bennies treated fans to a few songs off their new album, their title track Natural Born Chillers had the reggae dancers out in full force while Get High Like An Angel and Ocean had everyone singing as loudly as possible. The band took a moment to pull a good friend and fan up onstage for his 21st birthday. Anty then ventured into the audience during Trip Report, asking the crowd to sit down mid-song while they smoked a ceremonial birthday joint in the middle of the pit before Anty was crowd-surfed back to the stage.
Before long the band walked off-stage to incessant cheering from the crowd, while one of their stage crew took the opportunity to rile the crowd up until we were roaring for an encore. The Bennies came back onstage for a three-song encore, and once more the floor was transformed into an even bigger mosh-pit than before, both the band and crowd eager to see the night out with as much passion as possible. It wasn’t long until The Bennies were staggering offstage with tired but satisfied grins smeared across their faces that were mirrored by every person in the still-energetic crowd.
What a hell of a night. From the stunning quality of sound put forth by Young Offenders and Gooch Palms to the insurmountable exuberance of The Bennies, the fact this it was a rainy Wednesday night was all but obliterated from every fan’s mind by the end of the night. Brisbane was lifted high into outer-space last night and I’m not sure if we ever want to come back down from The Bennies psychedelic and addictive musical euphoria.
If you want to experience The Bennies high for yourself, they still have a plethora of dates spanning across the country over the next two weeks. Check them out HERE!