Words: Bec Helvete
Photos: Dylan Martin

The place is already quite full before the first band even starts. The crowd is drinking and chatting, the room abuzz with energy. Melbourne loves its homegrown rock bands and the turn out tonight proves this. The lineup tonight consists of all Melbourne based bands who are headliners in their own right, so you know the gig is going to be good. When the first band appear on stage the audience is ready to rock out. The hilariously named A Gazillion Angry Mexicans has a sound that is a mix of 90s grunge, garage and stoner rock. The set is high energy from the get go and the crowd is immediately on side. The band’s sound is heavy but never slow, rich with well played fuzzy guitar riffs. That dirty garage feel is present and the singers throaty but smooth voice adds a gruff, melodic element that works. The bands set is well rehearsed and well played showcasing the skill this band has, but there is a spontaneous element that shines through. The members move around on stage keeping the energy high, which transfers to the audience. The crowd sing and move along, the whole room jumping. This doesn’t feel like an opening set, it feels almost like a headlining set. A Gazillion Angry Mexicans have set a high bar of catchy riffs for the evening and won a few new fans.

Fuck The Fitzroy Doom Scene are quite well known in their own right and already have a sizeable following. They have stormed the scene in the last couple of years with their blend of 60s and 70s inspired rock with elements of stoner, blues and psychedelic rock thrown in. Seeing them live it is clear why they have become so popular. The sound they play is original and unique, without a weak or dull moment.  Heavy drums frame rocking guitars and smooth vocals creating a sound that is attention grabbing. The deep, fuzzy element is there and so is the energy. You can’t help but rock along to each song. Many in the audience are very familiar and sing the lyrics along with the band. The whole set draws you in until you are completely immersed. There is a jamming feel to the set, but with a melody and style that is the bands own. The members share the vocal duties, each person giving their own feel to each song. The set is faced paced and each song met with a loud cheer. The energy in the room is magnetic.

The next band is clearly anticipated, garnering cheers before they even walk on stage. The Ugly Kings have made their mark on the music scene gaining popularity with their stripped back power blues sound. They bring a refreshingly different sound to the night. Many in the audience are already fans as they swarm up to the front of the stage. The vocals are deep, smooth and melodic, making clear the blues influence from the get go. Raw and gritty blues riffs combine with catchy, ’stompy’ beats creating a real attention grabbing sound. With the crowd already in their hands it would be easy to relax and play a casual set, but the guys certainly don’t. Each not has passion behind it, each member immersing themselves in their playing. The crowd sings along, and the band interacts with them, blurring the lines and creating that intimate feel rock gigs often miss. The close out to thunderous applause from a very satisfied audience.

As the lights dim and the stage curtains are pulled open, a soundbite of an intro to an old news program plays. A large stack of orange Marshalls grace the stage. The audience cheers before anyone appears. As each member emerges the crowd goes wild. They already know and love this band and have been waiting all night for this moment. Dead City Ruins have gained a reputation locally and globally as one of the hardest working bands in rock who play for the love of the music. They spend a lot of time touring overseas, the band are touring locally to support the release of their latest album ’Never Say Die’.   Their sound is big and energetic, and pure hard rock. Influences from 70s and 80s rock, metal blues and even a bit of punk meld together for a sound that grabs and shakes you. The vocals of Jake Wiffen are something else entirely. Deep and soaring, and melodic in a way that reminds you of a young Robert Plant. He also has an engaging stage presence and interacts easily with an audience that already knows and loves him. Several people even yell out that a now bald Wife has shaved his once glorious long hair. He jokes and laughs along with them, addressing some personally. But they are more than their on stage banter.

The music is fun and heavy, and really embodies the spirit of rock and roll. The guitars riffs are loud and intricate, bold in their power but with a groove that you can rock out along to. The drums are fast and furious, but with a clean tempo that you can headband to. Each song brings something unique, but the bands signature sound permeates throughout. The crowd presses to the stage, some fans holding out hands to favourite members. People are dancing and singing along, and the band looks at home as though they were born to be on stage. Rapturous applause permeates throughout as the energy in the room heightens with each note. When the band exit the stage, the crowd begs for more. They band could easily have played all night to this welcoming throng. The energy is such that nobody leaves, they mill around drinking and chatting, hoping to talk to the band members floating around after the show. Its gigs like this that really show what Melbourne has to offer on the world stage. This packed band room in Northcote could have been any international venue of note, and these bands can and do hold their own on the world stage. This reviewer has seen many shows this year both local and international, and I can genuinely say this was one of the better ones I have had the pleasure of seeing. Excellent musicianship combined with the spirit of rock and roll. It really was an experience.

Get your tickets to see Dead City Ruins on tour around Australia HERE!