by Chris Familton
In a rare use of the Sydney Town Hall for rock n roll, Sydney Festival honoured both the original and seminal 1972 Nuggets 60s garage rock compilation and its recent Australian tribute Antipodean Interpolations of the First Psychedelic Era. The night was a chance for six of those bands to play short sets that gave a snapshot of their own Nuggets-spirited sound. It would have been amazing to see the hall packed to capacity, heaving to paint-peeling psych garage rock but though the crowd wasn’t disappointing it was still far from capacity.
The trio Bloods christened the stage with an endearing mix of enthusiastic and pop-leaning primitive rock. Though their cover of Farmer John wasn’t a touch on the original their other songs showed they can write catchy hooks. A band was needed to embody the spirit of ‘kicking against the pricks’ rock n roll attitude and The Gooch Palms were the ones to do it. The drums/guitar pair have their Cramps /Iggy schtick perfected and were only one song in when singer Leroy dropped his gold hotpants to reveal all before turning and proudly spreading his cheeks to the crowd. For all the aping and shock value they backed it up with some excellent primal theremin swamp rock that also drew from 50s rock n roll and doo-wop. Step-Panther took a few songs to get into their groove but they showed their are continuing to evolve, dropping some of their ADD song structures and making use of Steve Bourke’s great guitar playing. Melbourne representatives The Murlocs and King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard felt like a double act – sharing members, sounding like authentic 60s garage rock outcasts and providing the peak of the events offerings. The Murlocs have a blues streak, complete with harmonica while King Gizzard threw in rnb basslines amid a ramshackle punk dive vibe. The sound of the venue best suited these acts with their white-hot treble sonics and while it was decidedly average overall, if any type of music was going to make the most of the acoustics it was this bunch. The Laurels always deliver but here they sounded out of place, their songs felt like lumbering, epic space rock, lacking the knife edge sound of the other acts. It was left to hometown heroes Straight Arrows to put the exclamation mark on the night and they staggered and lurched through a set of new and old tunes that concluded with a volley of toilet rolls into the audience.
The venue was oversized for this type of music but Nuggets was still fun, primarily due to the spirit of the audience and the bands. Hopefully the organisers take note and build on this foray into underground local music for future arts festivals.
this review was first published in Drum Media / The Music