Words by Miah Jarrett
*(Unfortunately due to unforeseen circumstances, we missed photographing TOTTY – our apologies to the band!)
Crazy good Aussie pub rock legends Dune Rats played their biggest headlining show ever last night at the new Fortitude Music Hall and it was the sweatiest, most intoxicating fun you could have on a Friday night out. The sold-out show was the third night of their ‘Hurry Up and Wait’ Australian tour presented by Ratbag Records, Secret Sounds, Village Sounds, and triple j with a mammoth supporting line-up of friends TOTTY, Dear Seattle, and Ruby Fields. Having competed – and lost – in a small-time music comp in a former band just next door, Dune Rats played an arena worthy show, up there with Australian immortal rock gods of triple j’s not-so-distant past.
With doors opening at 6:30, the crowd was keen for TOTTY, a tatty but tight indie punk-rock band from Woolongong. After a couple of rounds of chanting from the audience they coolly make their way on stage in uniform: baggy tees, wild hair and low-slung instruments. Already having played alongside the likes of SKEGSS and Hockey Dad, these guys were brilliant. Lead singer and guitarist Kelly Jansch brings an organic, real and rough femininity to the boisterous shed-rock atmosphere and was quietly elated to be performing to such an eager audience. Her attitude and singing style is sometimes reminiscent of a late 90’s ABC Kids TV show character with a melodic and see-sawing, electric tone. Bassist (also known as a big string slappy bonger, according to their triple j Unearthed page) Max Piroddi occasionally complimented her with some relaxed background vocals behind a wall of great hair. Drummer Chris Peruch drove home their noise rock reputation in the best way; he did an awesome job and was really engaging to watch. Do yourself a favour and check out their tunes Uncomfortable and Lucky. Their lyrics are real and honest and their music is grungy and energetic.
Next up, raw and tenacious Dear Seattle played a massive set to an infatuated audience. I met a self-proclaimed ‘biggest fan’ in the crowd who had seen every gig they’ve played in Brisbane who, alongside so many other people in the crowd, proceeded to lose her mind as they began to play the opening lines to their first – and in my opinion, best – song Maybe. The sense of camaraderie Dear Seattle and their fans share in their experience of living the modern Australian life to it’s fullest is awesome; loving, f*cking up, getting through tough times and celebrating victories with lots of beer, good humour, self-deprecation, mateship and a heaped dose of honesty. Lead man and rhythm guitarist Brae Fisher nailed it tonight, his vocals were strong, expressive and honestly better live. His heavy power chords held the whole performance together. Trebly, metallic guitar riffs coupled with sharp feedback were my favourite part of Dear Seattle’s performance, however, plucked by lead guitarist Callum Mars, making it emo as, which is exactly what’s needed to top off their sound – especially in Bigger Than My Brain. Third last, they play their brilliantly fresh Like A Version of The Special Two, originally by Missy Higgins and people love it. It is so good to see a mosh of punk rock lovers so passionately and sweatily sing a heartfelt ballad (not that it isn’t awesome in it’s original form). Truly fierce, guys.
“Epic…. I really don’t know what else to say,” reckons Ruby Fields. Too right girl. This chick is really an alt-rock it girl, and if you don’t want to be her, you want to know her. The three-piece band behind her was sick too, really polished. The bass player exuded rock and roll teetering and head banging around with reckless abandon as he played some really velvety and rich lines. She said, “It’s nights like these that I’m blown away with how far I’ve come” just before humbly singing All I Want and hearing the lyrics made it all feel tangible and familiar. Towards the end of her set, there was this magical moment where she was singing wordless melody and it really took my breath away. It was so beautiful and authentic and it was this kind of peaking moment that everyone felt in the audience. I have goosebumps while I’m sat here thinking about it. At the end of her set, the band comes together and embraces for a precious moment, which was fitting considering Ruby had performed a song for “everyone who loved their mummies” (as hers wasn’t at the show) just a few songs earlier. Her whole set was excellent, and quite endearing in all.
A big banner is strung across the stage, while we wait for the final course in the degustation of Aussie rock in all its grand sub genre glory. Holy circle pits and swear words, Dune Rats have finally arrived. (intro) from their new album ‘Hurry Up and Wait’ lets us know they’re here, and then Bobby D is their epic first song. They play in front of the finest backdrop you’ve ever seen, complete with cartoon depictions of the three boys, the trademark cheese slices, a couple of stoned pencils (Why? Doesn’t matter), a suspicious bottle bong character and an exploding dog creature whose eyes glow red. Next is the modern Australian deviant’s cultural anthem If My Bong Could Talk, which was so high energy you wouldn’t believe it was about a drug that’s supposed to chill you out. Next up, Rubber Arm and the raucous and rowdy Red Light, Green Light. 6 Pack follows and the guy next to me flips his absolute lid. Then there are fricking FLAMES lighting up the stage and I suddenly can’t remember if I’m at a Dune Rats gig in Fortitude Valley or a monster truck show. Maybe next time, it’ll be both. I hope so.
It’s at this point that lead singer and guitarist Danny Beu(g)s starts to chat to the audience, telling the “f*ckers in the back” that he wants to hear them. “When I say Split System, you say Air Con!” Then a shout-out to the best locals bar in Brisbane: “When I say Coorparoo, you say Bowls Club!” The crowd loses it. “Nice Brissy”. It’s not long before the well-loved Scott Green, Buzz-Kill and a few others turn the crowd into a thumping wave of heads and hands being thrown everywhere.
There’s a bit of an intimate moment where the boys decide to set the mood with some Jack Johnson and a campfire using the flames from earlier. (You already know where this is going, don’t you?) Marshmallows are roasted and tossed into the crowd. Then their producer and good mate Brisbane local James Tidswell is invited out to play their hit single, No Plans. Next Kelly Jansch (TOTTY, also bassist Brett Jansch’s sister) returns to the stage to replace K-Flay’s feature in Stupid Is As Stupid Does and there’s plenty of good banter and energy being tossed around. Kelly and her brother both possess this sort-of larrikin caricature presence and it’s so much fun to watch.
Their “last song” is Bullshit and they return in matching motor-cross jerseys helicoptering scooters above their heads, like the toughest school posse you’ve ever seen. They return to play the long-awaited Crazy and close the show with the last song from their album, Mountains Come And Go But Aussie Pub Rock Is Forever, and they’re right – it is. Thanks Dune Rats, that was wild.
DUNE RATS HURRY UP AND WAIT AUSTRALIAN TOUR
+ RUBY FIELDS, DEAR SEATTLE, TOTTY
Proudly presented by triple j, Secret Sounds, Village Sounds and Ratbag Records.
Sat 29 Feb – Thebarton Theatre – Adelaide (AA)
Sun 1 Mar – Metro City – Perth (18+) (LABOUR DAY EVE)
Fri 6 Mar – Fortitude Music Hall – Brisbane (AA)
Sat 7 Mar – Big Top Luna Park – Sydney (AA)
Sun 8 Mar – Festival Hall – Melbourne (AA) (LABOUR DAY EVE)
Get your tickets here.