by C. Familton
The Mess Hall were only playing one show in 2012 and it was nice to see them raising their heads to honour the Annandale on its birthday and its new lease of life care of the imaginative ‘Buy A Brick’ campaign. Kill City Creeps were up first and their frequent live shows are paying dividends with a confident set of loose-hipped swaggering garage rock. They play base level rock n roll and they know when to sit on a two note groove and when to hit the distorted accelerator. I Got A Letter summed up their sound perfectly with its swirling organ and rockabilly surf rock.
Regular John used to be a fairly straight up punk-tinged rock band but when Brock Tengstrom departed two years ago they welcomed Miles Devine into the fold and on tonight’s performance that has played a big part in expanding and improving their sound. It was thunderingly loud with many reaching for their earplugs as Caleb Gorman’s bass attempted to separate the Annandale’s bricks and mortar. They played some impressive sounding tracks from their forthcoming album ranging from sonic overload psych rock to darker post punk passages not dissimilar to Jane’s Addiction. Devine’s voice was arresting and magnetic as he slipped chameleon-like between Bowie affectations and metallic screams.
The sold out crowd were packed in tightly for The Mess Hall who proceeded to put on a stellar show of hypno-glam riffing and disco krautrock drumming, superglued together by blues rock. The duo have certainly managed to overcome any limitations placed on them as a two piece and they seemed to be having a blast with frequent smiles and shared laughter at mistakes none of the rest of us picked up on. They played a range of songs from their releases with highlights being the slow build of Pulse, the maximalist Keep Walking, the infectious riffing of Bare and Shake Shake which took us back to their earlier, more primitive sound. They concluded with the perennial Lock and Load which as Jed Kurzel explained, they always play at The Annandale and never rehearse. It sounded as taut and wired as ever with drummer Cec Condon’s yelps and percussive storm driving the song home. The Mess Hall showed they still have the fire burning ahead of a return to the studio to record a new album.
this review was first published in Drum Media