Sure, 5.30pm may not be a very punk-rock time to kick off a gig, but that didn’t stop Byron Bay’s DickLord from fronting up with a visceral, energetic set that got the early crowd rocking out to the likes of CU Next Tuesday and Debra, the definitive anthem for not getting your rental bond back.
Brisbane’s Tape/Off respectfully began their set with a Welcome to Country and later quipped that they were worried the dynamic DickLord would “make them look like a bunch of maths teachers – but we’re actually English teachers!” before launching into Wake in Fright.
Their at times soaring indie-punk riffs kept the crowd on their feet before they smashed out borderline novelty track Work Xmas Party and closed with the almost dolewave Day In, Day Out.
Brisbane-via-Melbourne stalwarts Fat were next on the bill and showed no signs of “veteran status”, rocking out with a loose, yet actually quite tight, set of shouty vocals and distorted guitars to mark their own anniversary of 30 years on the road.
Long-serving witty Melbourne indie rockers The Fauves were next, rattling off both newer tracks (including from recent LP Driveway Heart Attack) and oldies, such as the classic, “contractually obliged” closer Dogs Are the Best People.
Japan’s all-female pop punks Shonen Knife rounded out the support slots with a fine set displaying their Beach Boys-meets-the-Ramones style, while psychedelic imagery was emblazoned on the backdrop screen.
Beloved by the likes of Nirvana and Sonic Youth, the band belted out numerous hits, including Dizzy and My Independent Country, before closing with Cobra vs Mongoose.
As the crowd swelled to a full house, it was time for the main event.
Regurgitator guitarist-singer Quan Yeomans and bassist-vocalist Ben Ely – the Lennon and McCartney of ’90s Aussie alternative pop-rock – stormed the stage, along with longtime drummer Pete Kostic (who took over from Martin Lee in 1999), garbed in multi-coloured pom-poms, as they blasted out the early grungy punk-rap of Track 1 (appropriate opener title!) and I Like It Like That.
Many bands would have made it look like a laboured, hackneyed “fun” gimmick, but the Gurge are old hands at rocking a silly costume and, in a further acid trip down memory lane, they were introduced on stage with a video featuring Recovery’s Dylan Lewis.
Perhaps not wanting to keep their older fans up too late, the band kept the banter to a relative minimum as they rattled off hits from debut album Tu-Plang, including I Sucked a Lot of Cock to Get Where I Am, Kong Foo Sing and the frenetic FSO.
Before long, they changed into glittery gold jumpsuits, and keyboardist and former member Seja Vogel joined the trio on stage for the Unit hit parade, including the proto-meta I Like Your Old Stuff Better Than Your New Stuff, followed not long after by one of their biggest singalongs, Polyester Girl.
Long after commercial radio largely deserted them following 2002’s fourth album, Eduardo and Rodriguez Wage War on T-Wrecks, the Gurge have maintained relevance and a loyal fan base – even if we were mostly there for “the old stuff”.
The outro to Black Bugs morphed into the Beverly Hills 90210 theme – a nod to another ’90s institution – before inarguably the greatest party song about not wanting to party, ! (The Song Formerly Known As), rounded out the main bracket, complete with a sample of Prince’s 1999.
An encore soon followed with the band now dressed in tutus as they blasted through 2007’s Blood and Spunk and closed with 1999’s I Wanna Be a Nudist.
There were plenty of arguable bangers that didn’t make the cut, such as Freshmint! and Superstraight, but it was hard to fault this band celebrating a quarter of a century of doing what they love – and doing it so bloody well. Five stars.
Regurgitator are back again at The Tivoli on Sunday, doors opening at 3pm, and if you’re outside Brisbane, you can catch them on the remaining dates:
November 1: Prince Bandroom, Melbourne
November 2: The Corner, Melbourne
November 3: The Lost Lands, Werribee
November 7: The Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle
November 8 and 9: The Metro, Sydney
November 10: Unibar, Wollongong
November 15: The Astor, Perth
November 16: Metropolis, Fremantle
Alex Condon is a casual producer at Brisbane Times.