GIG REVIEW: Sonic Revolver Presents: PistonFist, RHINO, Gutterfire, Fumarole + THE AUTOMATON, The Brightside, 03/10/2020

PistonFist

Words by Shannon-Lee Sloane {The Colourful Writer}

Photos by Elizabeth Sharpe {Ummagummamumma – Live Music Photography} – Full gallery to come.


Last night felt like things had almost found some kind of normality again as I headed in early to The Brightside in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley for load in and soundcheck with my partner. A gig where we could actually stand up again was set for the night, thanks to restrictions slowly beginning to lift here in Brisbane. Arriving early to a small group of eager faces from the other bands and crew as we all let it sink in for a minute that this gig was something special and reveled in actually being able to see each other again inside a live music venue. Some of us haven’t seen each other in real life since the ‘C word’ took away our live music. We set up merch, stood and watched the headliner sound check and let the loud music sit in our chests for a moment. An unspoken shared feeling of ‘Ahhh how much this has been missed and oh how good it is to be back!’

Last night, thanks to Sonic Revolver, five top shelf Brisbane rock bands were set to hit the stage. The line up was one of pure quality and I commend organiser/promoter Psymon for putting it together. THE AUTOMATON, Fumarole, Gutterfire, RHINO and PistonFist. The Brightside was about to get well and truly rocked and everyone was more than ready for it. 

Now, one could very much excuse the bands for perhaps being a little rusty after a global pandemic has been pouring rain on us for months and preventing them to play gigs or even rehearse. But as you would be aware, here in Brisbane we have been blessed with restrictions lifting more and more and clearly these five bands have been jamming in their rehearsal spaces pretty gosh damn hard. There were no signs of rust at all. They all played brilliant sets and if anything, I feel as though some of these bands have got a whole lot better than they were prior to lockdowns and restrictions. This was a night of high quality performance all round. 

First up, I need to talk about the venue. A little while before the pandemic hit us, what we all once knew as The Brightside, temporarily became Crowbar. Then it wasn’t anymore and then it was The Brightside again. Confused? So are all of Brisbane’s live music fans. It’s been an interesting time for the old building. Unfortunately, it has been left somewhat scarred by this experience, it used to have a certain vibe to it that has somewhere along the line of changeovers, become a little lost. It just needs some love put into it again I think. Now, I am not complaining here at all. I am so grateful we have venues delivering live music again, so incredibly grateful. I am glad The Brightside is The Brightside again, it really always was to most of us. I was chatting with another gig goer in the ladies toilets about this very topic and she said to me “yeah, the venue needs some love doesn’t it? But you know what? I am so bloody happy to be here and so grateful for the live music they are showcasing”. We both had a moment of shared appreciation for it all and then went our separate ways. So many wise words are spoken in the ladies toilets of live gig venues. 

Opening the night was THE AUTOMATON, a band people sometimes struggle to pronounce, but a band people should most definitely not miss. They have not been on the scene long, but with their dark, blues soaked groove rock, they’ve won some solid fans already. The recent release of their debut single, Receiver was (pardon the pun) incredibly well received. I felt as though it took them two or three songs to really get into their own groove last night and by the time they hit their debut single, they were on fire. My heart felt all warm and fuzzy watching them all enjoying the heck out of being up there together on stage. I saw moments where drummer Fi locked eyes with bassist Jimmy and they shared a moment of ‘knowing’ and same with vocalist, Deja and guitarist, Pete. All four of them share a bond through their music and that sets a mood in their performance before they even begin to play. To me, that connection is so important. 

I was impressed with their tight set, with Deja’s powerful frontwoman presence and strong voice, Fi’s amazing ability to not only play her drums like a woman possessed, but also lend her voice with backing vocals without missing a beat. Jimmy also has a gorgeous voice that perfectly complemented the strong female vocals while keeping that heavy heartbeat through the tracks with his bass and Pete always impresses with his guitar playing prowess. This is one talented group of musicians. And this is only the beginning for them. 


Deja of THE AUTOMATON

Next up, Fumarole hit the stage. These guys are some of the nicest guys in Brisbane stoner/psych rock. They have impressed me for some time now with their dedication to not only good music they make themselves, but supporting the scene, other bands, promoters and just everyone involved in the local music scene and beyond. It’s not uncommon for these guys to celebrate other bands successes by sharing social media posts and doing a shout out of respect here and there. Nice guys don’t finish last in my books. Nice guys grab my attention and win my heart pretty gosh darn fast actually. And like I said, aside from being genuine nice people, they can seriously rock hard too. To be honest, I had always thought of them as exclusively a stoner rock band. But last night’s performance had me hearing and feeling vibes and influences from other genres and I was digging on that pretty hard. There were glimmers of punk, metal and grunge that sat in amongst the psych, stoner and doom sounds and it all fit together like a complete puzzle. There were moments where I felt like their sound was something like Kyuss meets Primus meets Jimi Hendrix

These guys don’t fuck around. They get on stage and they get down to business. All three of them totally absorbed in their own instruments and roles in the band. Fumarole are an extremely tight band. Watching bassist Dan Bartsch slapping his bass and moving with the groove of his instrument reminded me of Greasy’s bass playing when he was in Hobo Magic and man, can that guy slap a bass. Ryan Stewart had my eyes fixed on him a few times with his drumming technique. All three of the guys play their instruments as though they are an extension of themselves and frontman Kurt Werder’s vocals are perfect for their sound. Their new album ‘Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes’ is set for release soon and pre-orders for the album on gorgeous green vinyl start on the 16th of October on Interstellar Smoke Records. Get around it. 


Fumarole

The next band to take to the stage was sludgy desert alt rock party bringers, Gutterfire. The first thing that grabbed me about these guys is their seemingly effortless ability to roll from one song into another. The whole performance was smooth sailing from start to finish. Frontman, Photon Jon gives it his all and holy shit has that guy got some lungs! His vocals on their recorded music don’t really do justice to his live performances to be honest. His vocals soared through the venue right to the roof and into every nook and cranny possible. I am quite sure you could hear him right down the street. That vocal and his energy backed by the talent from the rest of the band had Gutterfire kind of blowing everyone else off the stage (though honestly, every band was on fire last night). Photon also had me amused when he would sing his part and then come and sit with the crowd to watch the rest of his band perform and rock out. He sat and clearly admired their performance before joining them on stage again to belt out some more vocals. Gutterfire call themselves sludgy, desert rock, of which they are, but there is more than that in their sound. There is a strong 90’s grunge sound that rings through loud and clear, certain moments in songs reminding me of Nirvana and Stone Temple Pilots, among others.  

One of my favourite lines from Gutterfire is the opening one from their track, Quantum Bacterium  – “Oh Jesus Christ, he ain’t nothin’ to me but I’m whole, I’ll never ask why, but I’ll hit you up with how come and I’m kind but I’m definitely an asshole…” hearing this in a live setting last night really made my night. I stood (yes, stood! I didn’t have to sit down!) and soaked it all in and I sang along. These are the moments I have missed and these are the moments I welcome back wholeheartedly. I looked around the room and saw I wasn’t the only one feeling it. And this occurred many times throughout the night and during every band’s performance. 

Gutterfire are another band who really mean business. They are not here to just have fun (though they most definitely do that too!), they are here to rock and the dedication and commitment from all of the band members is clear in their live shows, their music, their music videos and everything else they do. The line up is tight and overflowing with talent and they are set to reach the stars if they keep going at their current rate. Gutterfire’s debut album release has been delayed due to that nasty ‘C word’ again (I just can’t bring myself to say it) but when the album is unleashed, it’s bound to be warmly and eagerly received by fans and new listeners alike. Stay tuned to their socials for more from these guys. 


Gutterfire

RHINO were next. RHINO are without a doubt bringers of some seriously heavy rock, delivered yet again by a team of talented band members. A recent line up change sees new bass player, Paul Lowe joining the stampede. It felt as though he had just always been there to be honest, his presence in the band felt relaxed and easy. Something any band needs when entering a new member. The guys were up to their usual standard of a quality live show, with frontman Psymon providing his usual comedic banter between songs that never fails to have me in fits of giggles and has my face aching. Their opening song and Psymon’s delivery of it actually reminding me a little of NIN and Trent Reznor with the way he kind of wraps the top half of his body around the mic and mic stand. 

After a song or two he announced, “G’day, thank you, we’re Powderfinger. We put out a new song the other week but it’s actually 15 years old…” before then introducing their actual latest single, White Witch. This track was warmly welcomed by their fans and the crowd. There is definitely a Pearl Jam vibe and sound to RHINO too with Psymon even breaking into Animal mid set. 

James (Jimbo) and Geoff are both accomplished guitarists and their performance last night did not go unnoticed by fellow gig goers standing around me with several compliments being shouted in my ears over the big sound coming from the stage. The whole band delivered a memorable performance last night and with a frontman who ticks all the ‘frontman boxes’ – great voice, great stage presence, amusing banter and just all round ‘good time’ provoking, RHINO are without a doubt one of Brisbane’s finest. 


RHINO

And then it was time for the icing on this delicious rock cake. PistonFist took to the stage to round up the night. The guys also have a new line up with drummer, Sammy joining the band. I had chats with him before their set and he mentioned he hadn’t played a live gig in quite some time. I told him he’d be totally fine and holy shit! He was better than fine. Sammy had me so impressed last night, his performance was nothing short of brilliant for someone who has only played with the band for a very short time. He has picked things up and slotted right in like he was meant to be there. 

PistonFist have brought their petrol rock into the local scene with their feet firmly on the accelerator. They have quickly found a dedicated and increasingly growing fan base that support them in all they do. Again, like Fumarole, they are all also just really nice guys. With frontman Geoffro and bassist Link, both talented tattooists in addition to being accomplished musicians, both have been jamming in bands for many moons. Lead guitarist, Jimmy joined the band late last year when he jumped on some Melbourne shows the band had locked in. He was a perfect fit for the guys and after filling in on those shows, he has become a permanent member of the band. Jimmy also has a history of previously playing in various metal and heavy rock bands. The combination of being genuinely good people, who are creatively and musically talented and experienced has been one of the driving forces behind their swift movement to being a Brisbane heavy rock band that lands headline slots and has caught the attention of so many, both locally and beyond. 

They delivered a stellar set which included their most loved tracks and included a new one, The Storm. A new song that gives a glimmer into what’s to come from the Fist. There’s more new music coming and with new members, there is that same PistonFist sound we all know and love but with a new light and fresh influences there to give it something else and judging by the response to the new track played last night, the new music will be welcomed with open arms. 


PistonFist

Overall, this was a night featuring the cream of the crop in Brisbane’s heavy rock. The Brisbane music scene has always been chock full of talent and prior to the global pandemic shaking things up, it was booming. With bands staying dedicated to their music and their art, and restrictions slowly lifting, it won’t be long before it’s booming again. Hold on tight and hang in there, we’re set to break on through to the other side. Thanks to live music venues, promoters, bands, dedicated live music fans, music media and everyone involved in the music scene not giving up, we will move forward and do what we all do best – bring live music to the masses, and support it with all our hearts. 

Follow the bands!

THE AUTOMATON:

Fumarole:

Gutterfire:

RHINO:

PistonFist:

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