Back You are here: Home Reviews We Review The Vines, Brisbane Hi-Fi 26th Aug 2011

We Review The Vines, Brisbane Hi-Fi 26th Aug 2011

It's early at the HiFi but already a steady stream of folks are wandering up front towards a blisteringly loud and thrashy-but-tight Dune Rats. The Brisie 3 piece are squashed together in front of the Vines backline, but it suits them nicely. Drummer BC Deusa deserves to be out front with his hilarious hair-care moves anyway. Everything except the snare is drenched in reverb and they steadily smash out three minute pearlers with their Subpop hearts on their sleeves.


In contrast The Bleeding Knees Club have a bit of a rough night. Thanks to a persistent heckler we find out that they've a new drummer called Woodsie, and though they kick off with a disclaimer about their guitar skills they still seem unnecessarily shambolic. 1-2-3-4 intros into every song and a cute BKC denim patch make all the right moves but it's the kind of music a sixteen year old can slaughter with the help of a few mates in his garage and fuck a perfectly fine Saturday arvo in your neighbourhood. It's only when they finally bust out two-min Triple J screamer "Bad Guys" do they start making any sense. But by then it's too late.

The room is almost full by the time Sydney band Papa vs Pretty make it to the stage and with more than a few whoops of anticipation from the crowd, they proceed to tear the HiFi a new one. Highly melodic "To Be One Of The Animals" showcases some pretty sweet vocal harmonies from all three members along with killer guitar playing in particular from Thomas Rawle who gushes endearingly about The Vines before breaking into "Honey".  Hugh Heffner would be rolling in his cryo-chamber if he could hear these boys singing about him...

They incorporate lots of adverse influences: occasional shredding guitar solos and rock god moves from Rawle on top of the foldbacks; a ska intro into "Wrecking Ball" gradually morphs into a heavy sludgy beast; and final song "Ask Yourself" is a masterpeice of quiet/loud dynamics with raucous blues guitar sling-shot licks and a massive feedback finish on top of Myers drumkit - pure fucking joy. In a landscape of same-same jerky Australian hipster music these guys are a breath of fresh air and totally deserving of the hype that's building around them for the past year - if you are going to Big Sound Live be sure to check their showcase.

This is the Vines first proper Australian tour in years, and their first visit to Brisbane since 2008, so when the band finally walk on stage the reception is understandably ecstatic. They open with the title track from their fifth studio recording "Future Primitive' and frontman Craig Nicholls wastes no time, throwing shapes from the start. By the second song, there's already an intense little mosh-pit happening down front, complete with clenched fists and cans of bourbon flying in the air.

It's mostly new stuff for the first half of the show, "Candy Stripper Girl' and "Black Dragon" doing the business with an audience well up to date with the new album, but there's a fresh depth to the music now. Nicholls is as volatile as ever, occasionally screaming instructions to Rosser aloof behind his drumkit but there are new angles to be played tonight - "A.S.4" is mellow and wistful with psych-ward inmate lyrics, and "Gimme Love" is a strange hybrid of rough sentimentality in the verses with Def Leppard-style choruses.

Ryan Griffiths and Brad Heald look like brothers, both with matching fishermen caps on their stringy blond hair, occasionally howling unintelligible backing vocals and throwing their instruments around but it's Nicholl's show tonight. He's in top form, thrashing his white Strat for a few buzzsaw solos on "Get Free" and "Don't Listen To The Radio" and thanking punters for buying the new record, almost ending up in the crowd himself when he reaches out to grab some hands.

Some gobshite chucks a beer can at Rosser and Nicholls foolishly invites the crowd to nail him on the head in return for a free T-shirt. Perhaps it's the measure of this lot's love that nobody takes him up seriously on the offer, but pelt him with used chewing gum instead. In return "Ride" is a call to arms, the room erupting uniformly and the single unrepentant crowd surfer finally gets some company before dropping exultantly into the security pit yet again. I'm not sure how many people at this gig drive a Nissan, but it's a pretty amazing reaction from an already pumped room, and a small train of sweaty destroyed people are filing back to the bar like refugees from the front.


Two techs rush out to reassemble the trashed stage before Nicholls appears for a solo encore "Meet Me In The Dark" on acoustic guitar. It could all go horribly wrong here, but it's kind of cracked and beautiful instead. Rosser, Griffiths and Heald reappear and they tear into "He's A Rocker". One last song, and Nicholls finally wigs out in the climax, throwing his guitar into the air and swinging it perilously close to the drum kit before smashing it on the stage over and over again. He grins at the crowd before stumbling off only to return, pick up the still-breathing Strat and passes it to Griffith who seems more than happy to finish the job. Between them they destroy both guitar and drumkit and within ten seconds the night descends into magnificent chaos.


There's a massive rocknroll sized hole left on the stage while the crowd pour out of the HiFi into the Brisbane rain. The Vines are back - look out.

Alan Boyle - AAA Backstage

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