GIG REVIEW: Butterfingers, Skrub + East Coast Alien, Fortitude Music Hall, 16/04/2021

Words by Tracey Moyle {Music Maven}

When Brisbane came out of lock down last year, the first night music opened up, Butterfingers were there to welcome back the live music starved crowd.

Another mini lock down (a brief pause compared to the rest of the world) in Brisbane and Butterfingers are back pleasing the crowds again. This time there are no table restrictions just pure unadulterated up close and personal fun. It’s been 20 years since ‘Evil’ Eddie Jacobson dove in headfirst and booked himself a gig at The Zoo, with a heaps of songs to share but no band to back him up. But as Richard Branson said ‘Just say yes and learn how to do it later.’ That’s what he did and Butterfingers have been keeping their faithful following entertained ever since.  

Fast forward a couple of decades and the band have built a solid fan base, of all ages, lining up a gigs. Tonight The Fortitude Music Hall is buzzing with music lovers, all having that deeper appreciation for live gigs after the year that taught us not to take anything for granted.

With the crowd steadily pouring through the doors from the start, ‘The Fort’ was already buzzing with eager punters up front when one of Brisbane’s newest rap/hip hop acts East Coast Alien, aka Mike Christiansen and Pauly D, opened the night. With Mike also fronting local punk bands, SLOJ and Slurpee Jerks and Pauly (Paul Duncan) from the Flangipanis and host of radio show ‘The Brown Couch’ on 4ZZZ, both are very much loved in the local punk scene. This is the perfect example of music having no limitations. The old days of being only a fan of (insert any genre here) are gone. And the support in the crowd is evident with peers from local punk and metal bands scattered through the venue. They are also the first act to be signed to Evil Eddie’s label Bewilderbeats that doesn’t feature Eddie himself.

East Coast Alien happily warmed up the crowd, the punters gathered around the front of stage getting into the night, the band showcasing their rapping talents. They worked through their streetwise rhymes opening with Promo, showing their skills set go beyond their punk roots. The vibe of their songs are old school, at one stage picking up a hint of Beastie Boys in the flow.  Their rhymes are raw with Getting High To Get By, All Work No Play and Is This The Life For Me, all pondering life in a way many do on a daily basis. They are vulnerable in their lyrics delving into street life, poverty, drugs, and overcoming personal addictions. Vulnerability is one thing that reaches an audience faster than anything else. People relate. They end their set with their two singles Fast Sesh and Street Smart. There was a good feel in the room set by the opening act. The crowd were ready for a fun night.

At this stage, a decent and diverse crowd have gathered under the giant chandeliers. It occurred to me briefly, the irony of the streetwise struggles of rap (and punk for that matter) were being showcased in a Hall as fine and opulent as ‘The Fortitude’. There was definite proof that music has no barriers, with the crowd gathered wearing metal t-shirts, punk vests, amongst butterfingers t-shirts and possibly whatever they wore to work that day. The age of the crowd was as diverse as their fashion, or lack of it. Aussie Hip Hop is an anomaly that attracts music lovers of all genres, ages, walks of life.

By the time Brisbane rapper Skrub comes on stage, the crowd are ready for more. He opens with That’s Me and the mood across the room is buzzing. “I don’t need the key to success I’d rather pick the lock” a brilliant line summing up the hard work artists like Skrub are willing to put into their music. 

The set was the perfect build up for the main act with Skrub sharing his most popular rhymes including tracks form his latest EP ‘Almost Twenty Two’ including Where’s The Gold and the popular Twenty One.

He delivered rapid rhymes and catchy hooks, hypnotising the crowd with the mesmerizing track, All In My Head. The rapper had a way of delivering his music in a way that connected the crowd with his lyrics. He brought out friend and fellow rapper Smak for a joint effort, performing two of Smak’s tunes Rat Race and new track Mood Swings. Skrub had the punters gathered, hooked with his ability work the stage. There was a hype both on and off the stage and he crowd were well and truly warmed up for Butterfingers to take the reigns.

There was a reasonable pause between sets, but the crowd were happy just to be out. The energy of the room had a lively buzz, feeling more like a massive social gathering.

Butterfingers took to the stage and moments later ‘Evil’ Eddie made an entrance. The crowd adore Butterfingers, that much is evident. The buzz that was charging around the room, just amplified as the band opened.

Eddie welcomed the crowd talking about how he was always both excited and anxious playing a home show. No need for nerves, the crowd were there because they knew what they were in for.

It was the ‘Bad News’ tour so tracks from the latest album were the main musical feast of the night. Any true fan of Butterfingers will know that they are one band that can’t be classified by genre. From hip hop to punk, to rock to almost disco inspired tracks, Butterfingers have a smorgasbord ready to please anyone and everyone. Opening track from ‘Bad News’, Dancing (To The Beat Of My Own Drum) is the perfect example. Not one set of legs standing still at ‘The Fort’, Eddie working the stage and the crowd.

Suburbia sees the talented frontman grab his guitar falling between rap and a hint of grungy rock. Working through ‘Bad News’, Dem Billz shines with a typical Aussie hip hop feel full of fun. They took us into Black Cocaine, a crowd favourite with a hint of ska running through its veins, adding another shade to Butterfingers. The crowd are happy and room is bouncing – hard. Light It Up keeps the crowd jumping with Eddie chatting to the crowd between tracks. They went into the album’s title track Bad News. It felt like this wasn’t the crowds first Butterfingers gig and the interaction between the band and the fans was casual and fun.

The night continued that way (almost) finishing off the ‘Bad News’ album tracks with Eat A Bag O’ Dix. Now it was time for some old school Butterfingers, and nothing lifts a mood more than those opening chords in Yo Mamma. With a mass sing-a-long the crowd fell into familiar territory bringing back all those fun times memories. That pub choir feel kept going with I Love Work, the capacity of the music hall knew the words and lifted the roof. The party kept going with some good old fashioned us vs them with Eddie splitting the hall down the middle channelling Ice Cube in a sing off – “Party over here. Fuck you over there!” So much fun.

Time for a breather, the band clear the stage, giving Eddie the spotlight with his chilled out ukulele version of final ‘Bad News’ track, Thinking Bout Sellin’ Out, the song that really puts a spotlight on the love of music vs the lack of income musicians face everywhere, every day. (Buy merch and go to live shows people!)

Back for an encore, they kept the crowd engaged with Everytime, fans chanting along to the track’s “worship Satan”, horns in the air, just like a metal show, but not.

They ended the night with FIGJAM, of course, with the band and the crowd having equal amounts of fun.

There’s a reason Butterfingers have such a faithful following, several probably, but I think the keys to their longevity are diversity, honesty and fun. They love what they do, and it shows in every song, especially at a live show. If you’ve missed out on seeing them live, then you’ve definitely missed out.

Butterfingers latest album ‘Bad News’ is available on now on all streaming platforms.
You can buy Butterfingers merch HERE

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With thanks to On The Map PR

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