GIG REVIEW: Basket Of Hammers – Samhain, Lantana Space, Sunshine Coast, 31/10/2021

Words by Carly Gibbs

Sundown on the 31st October every year, the pagan festival of Samhain (pronounced Sah-win) is celebrated to welcome the harvest and usher in “the dark half of the year”.  The veil between the physical and spirit world is at its thinnest point allowing Otherworld entities such as spirits and faeries to pass freely into our earthly realm.  Last night Basket of Hammers invited those with a more adventurous spirit, here on the Sunshine Coast, to be the “round peg in the square hole” and join them for a night that was shrouded in secrecy.  Minimal details were released; event time and date, Samhain thematic attire and that they’d partnered with Young Henry’s and the Sunshine Coast Council to create an immersive experience to underline the significance and richness of local subculture.  In the lead up, eager punters were drip fed clues in a series of social media posts that had inquisitive minds racing about who and what could be at the event. 

Two days out and the event’s location was announced which served to further exacerbate anticipation.  Lantana space is in Moffat Beach, an Artist Run Initiative founded by some of the Coast’s most stimulating and refreshing artists; Ebony Busk, Jordyn Burnett, Warwick Gow and Coen Keyte, and this was where this debauch night of dark revelry took place.  Winding through shadowy streets in an industrialised wasteland (or what seemed to be, since I didn’t know where I was going), my senses were heightened and ready for whatever awaited me.  A red glow and eerie, atmospheric sounds emanated from the venue and lured us in from the street.  Giving heavy Dark Mofo vibes, inverted crosses lined the wall, iconography that I thoroughly enjoyed as a fervent heavy metal fan. 

Inside, the walls were embellished with an installation by Brisbane artist Rene Danika who uses organic materials and adds toxic substances like adhesives and paints to create a collection of work that is simultaneously unsettling yet strangely captivating.

The lights go down and it’s time for the first of four secret bands of the night.  Haters!  I had a sneaky suspicion they would be here tonight.  Everyone’s favourite garage punk duo, now trio, adorned in tin foil hats.  No mention of conspiracy theories tonight though, as they kicked the night into gear.  Various versions of witches, skeletons and a medley of assorted other creeps and freaks were dancing like they were trying to imbibe the energy that Haters were pouring into the crowd, myself included.  I can’t imagine anyone hating Haters.  They’re like a wonderfully wholesome but badass friend with whom you are always guaranteed a good time.   

Next band up was The Mad Crept, fronted by Basket of Hammers event organiser, Patricia McInerney.  The Mad Crept were the embodiment of everything that this night was.  Mysterious and brooding, Patricia’s vocals are powerful and hauntingly striking. Resplendent in a floor length, Victorian era-esque black dress and flanked by the band in skeletal corpse face paint.  The room was completely enraptured, elevating those that were still rooted in earthly plains to ethereal heights.    

A couple of drinks from the Young Henry’s bar and a spicy chat and Karl S. Williams and his band take the stage.  Karl S. Williams is trailed by a tsunami of accolades, all of which are extremely deserved.  He is a heartfelt, prolific storyteller and shifts effortlessly between instruments, equally accomplished at each.  The persuasion in which he performs his swampy, folk infused mix of blues and roots is unparalleled and infiltrates deep into your soul.  I am left feeling buoyed and ready to delve a whole lot deeper into his creative works.

Standing outside before the last of the secret artists are revealed and everyone is enjoying themselves immensely.  I hear a dank, sludgey riff roll out from inside and am lured back in like a sailor to a Siren’s song.  What I find when I walk back in is definitely not what I was expecting but in the absolute best way possible.  Old Home are visceral in their performance of penetrating prose and impulsive and progressive instrumentation.  Looking around the room, I see that the energy is reciprocated by the crowd.  Dylan Sparks is an exceptionally engaging performer and executes with intense conviction.  Whilst that vicious intensity is directed into the microphone, he walks around hugging various members of the crowd, a comforting squeeze to an arm here and there.  It’s a genuine moment of connection and I am overcome with the warm feeling of community and being a part of something bigger than myself.  They close with the emotive ‘House of Leaves’ and we are all left wanting more.  A heartfelt thank you is exchanged between the band and crowd and there is not one ounce of ego to be found.  Just gratitude. 

For all of its beauty, the Sunshine Coast can be a barren desert when it comes to diversity, variety and subculture.  Events like this are a breath of fresh air and are absolutely imperative to keeping creatives afloat when faced with the sterility that the Coast can present. I, for one am very thankful that there are still people who push against the status quo and don’t feel the need to conform, even when the odds are stacked against them. 

I am very much looking forward to the next Basket of Hammers event!

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With thanks to Basket Of Hammers

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