Words by Natalie Blacklock
Photos by Brendan Shanahan – Link to full gallery HERE
After a hectic 12 month tour schedule, including overseas festival appearances at Reading and Leeds in the UK, Pukkelpop in Belgium, Rock en Seine in France, a national support slot for Australian legends The Living End, plus Festival spots here at home including Falls, Splendour in The Grass and more recently The Big Pineapple Music Festival, West Thebarton have definitely been busy! Little over a year after the release of their debut album, the ARIA-nominated ‘Different Beings Being Different’, the Adelaideans, formerly known as West Thebarton Brothel Party, have made a stunning return with their latest single, Tops.
Released on Domestic La La Records; the side hustle of Violent Soho guitarist, James Tidswell, Tops is described as being about “those times in your life when you know you should feel so fucking good about yourself, but all you can focus on is negative”. With a reputation for putting on some of the wildest live shows in Australia, the West Thebarton crew have made their way up to Queensland for the final leg of the Tops Tour this weekend presented by Domestic La La Records, Deathproof and Fidelity Corp.
The good vibes in the beergarden of The Triffid were strong, as punters warmed themselves up with a good yarn and beer in each hand. When doors to the former World War II hangar opened, the audience’s excitement was palpable; abuzz with chatter and the familiar sound of crushed-up tinnies as the top-shelf house music including 90s-era bangers from Bodyjar, Regurgitator and Spiderbait reverberated around the bandroom.
Opening up the show were Being Jane Lane. Fresh from recent support slots for local faves Clowns, America’s Unwritten Law and Swedish punks Millencolin as well as a string of their own headline shows on the back of new single Be Okay, Brisbanites Being Jane Lane are proving that they are all-girl, all-punk and proud of it. Since releasing their debut EP in 2016, they have gained a local cult following for their high-energy infectious punk fused with catchy melodic flair. Kicking off their set was the howling Next Step closely followed up by Glad You’re Here, the crowd began to assemble and get involved.
Frontwoman, Teigan Le Plastrier, ventured down onto the barrier and high-fived most of the front row before coming back to the stage with a beer kindly donated by a willing punter. Moving into one of the heavier tracks of the set, Sailboat, Le Plastrier’s vocals found a life of their own. Just before closing their set, Being Jane Lane encouraged the crowd to chant “one more song” to lead them into Be Okay. Keep an eye out for this 5-piece, as they gear up to release their debut album ‘Savage Sunday’ before the end of the year.
Up next were Tasmania’s A. Swayze & The Ghosts, who are possibly best described as an unhinged party band, serving as a very important reminder that garage rock is still the best style of music when it’s done as well as these guys do. A. Swayze & The Ghosts’ chaotic approach to their live shows have earnt them quite the reputation, noted as one of the highlights of BIGSOUND 2018. Recently back in Australia from an overseas run in the UK and Ireland for The Great Escape Festival and a tour with North Carolina’s The Nude Party and Melbourne mates Cable Ties, the Hobart 4-piece are marking the start of a new and exciting chapter for the band in style. From the moment the band walked out on the stage, something about them commanded attention.
Frontman, Andrew Swayze, oozed unwavering swagger and dynamic stage presence, which made for a captivating vocal performance. By the third song, it was clear that the audience were hanging on his every word. Swayze told them that “this next song is really long, so stick around” and stick around they did, as the band embarked on a 10+ minute performance of newest single Reciprocation. Soon enough, punters were on each other’s shoulders and Swayze had come from the stage and perched himself on top of the front barrier rail before heading back out into the crowd armed with a tambourine.
The calls for “Shoey’s” were rife through the set, with the frontman screaming back that they were not fellow Tasmanians, Luca Brasi, known for a Shoey or two in their early days. The band even invited a member of the crowd to join them on stage so he could do the deed instead, but the willing volunteer just ended up covered in beer. 2018 single and clear crowd favourite, Suddenly, brought up the tail-end of the polished yet ad-hoc set. With their unique brand of abrasiveness, A. Swayze & The Ghosts are definitely a band to watch.
The room swelled as the audience’s enthusiasm became ever more apparent as the slew of Aussie tunes including Beds Are Burning by Midnight Oil, complete with Peter Garrett-esque dance moves, continued to echo through the bandroom. With the final touches made to their setup, West Thebarton bounded out onto the stage, ready for a good time. Since their formation in 2013, the affectionately known West Thebbies have gone from strength to strength while maintaining their pub rock roots and playing a room like The Triffid is testament to that. The 7-piece smashed through their first two tracks, Cold Feet and Stuck On You with relative ease, making it clear that this was just the warm up.
Frontman, Ray Dalfsen, bantered with the crowd, laying out his three rules for this night; “Have fun. Enjoy yourself. Don’t be a dick”, before leading the band through a ripping 1-2 punch of rock ‘n’ roll with Basics and Anatomy, which brought moshers and crowdsurfers alike to life. Dalfsen then asked for silence before allowing bassist Nick Horvat, to introduce Reasons, which he dedicated to his late Mother, Leonie. This stirring and emotional rendition flowed seamlessly into ‘lovesong’ Desire, a well-received sentimental moment in which the showmanship and finesse of the West Thebbies frontman comparable to the likes of Dave Le’aupepe from Gang of Youths. Dalfsen again brought back the crowd’s attention, telling of almost having to cancel the show due to losing his voice, but the undisputed God of Rock; Lemmy Kilmister (of Motörhead fame) was smiling down on him to cure his cold.
Hitting mid-set, West Thebarton jumped straight into crowd favourite, Moving Out, the never-played-in-Queensland-before, Neck Pains as well as Set It Straight and Do You Believe, which offered the perfect opportunity for guitarist Josh Healey, to showcase his shredding skills. After informing the audience that they don’t do encores, West Thebarton delivered their last three tracks with gusto; the raucous Gough (a princely nod to Australia’s ‘greatest’ PM, Gough Whitlam), tour single Tops and the energetic set closer, Bible Camp, which saw guitarist Brian Bolado, scale a lighting rig, wearing a tambourine crown with maracas hanging from his back pocket. To truly understand the West Thebarton experience, attending a live show is a must. The Adelaide crew are one of those bands that take their already strong studio work and add that ‘extra layer’ on stage, rightfully earning themselves a strong reputation for frenzied guitars, heavy drums and punk jumps galore. Leaving The Triffid last night, it was pretty clear to all in attendance that “the West is the best”.
Be sure to catch West Thebarton at their last show of the Tops Tour. For dates, locations, and ticket information click HERE.
Remaining Tour Dates:
Saturday 22 June – Miami Marketta | Gold Coast (18+)