Festival Review: The Blurst of Times - The Factory Theatre, Sydney (25.10.14)

Guitars and subverted Simpsons t-shirts ruled Blurst of Times' Sydney debut. Its debut went off without a major hitch, even with some last minute timetable shuffling to adjust to. With The Factory Theatre proving to be a perfect space for the event, triumphing over the aural assault that marred OutsideIn last year. This was accomplished without actually putting the Factory Theatre stage to use, utilizing the smaller Fusebox and Factory Floor stages, and the smart move of setting up a main stage outside. Pushing revelries out in to the open air and giving itself a true festival atmosphere.

The Upskirts got things kicking off with an early slot of heady psychedelic garage rock. The locals fed off one another exchanging riffs and vocals, a mid set cover of Kavinsky’s "Night Call" saw the song translated into a sludgy garage rock makeover replete with an explosive jam heavy conclusion. "Minds A Burden" closed out a solid set to a still growing crowd.

Babaganouj were the first of the Brisbane bands on the Outdoor stage. Punching through a sprightly set of upbeat power pop. They were a great warm up early in the day, before the run of heavier acts that characterised the back end of the night. High-Tails played a likewise upbeat set of indie-rock, playing songs from their new Sipping Tea, To Make Music To Sip Tea To EP. "Bending Over Backwards" pricked up a fair few ears and displaying the locals command of melody and ear for a catchy hook.

Rolls Bayce have an impressive pedigree and it translated into a strong live show. Comprising of ex-Hungry Kids of Hungary frontman Dean McGrath, ex-Millions drummer James Wright and rounded out with bassist Neal Apel. The group have already developed a strong chemistry and interplay between the three of them. Drawing in classic rock influences and flourishes of funk and psych-rock they show a lot of promise and if they keep writing earworm tracks like "Don’t Get Me Wrong", they’ll be hard to escape.

Outdoors Wollongong slackers Step-Panther kept a tight control on tempo. Keeping things tight at a punk pace and then keenly unleashing a wall of squalling noise, cheekily drawing it all back in with the knowing grin of that annoying kid in the back of the class that just hit you with a spitball. You know it just happened, you know it was them, but they play it so straight faced you start doubting yourself.

The Creases have a knack for releasing innocuous singles that creep up on you. It isn’t until watching them live that you click how long you have been humming along to each song in the car. Fellow Brisbanites Velociraptor couldn’t have been further away from innocuous, the whole nine-piece group crowding the stage for a raucous set. Velociraptor are Brisbane’s Broken Social Scene, if they had have spent their time ripping gravity bongs and playing house parties, instead of art school nights. The set is pure bliss for anyone with a short attention span; if Jeremy Neale isn’t capturing you with his batshit crazy facial expressions, there are another eight people onstage doing something almost as exciting.

Upstairs, Donny Benet was just fucking ridiculous. A middle aged man playing the schmaltziest keyboard solos around. It’s the aural equivalent of the dodgiest 80’s porno you have ever watched. 'Kitschy' doesn’t even come close to describing it. That said, it was pretty much the best thing to happen all day.

The end of the night saw some high energy sets from experienced campaigners. TV Colours pummeled their way through a set that owed a lot to hardcore pioneers like Hüsker Dü and Fugazi. They truly are the sound of the suburbs and set closer "Beverly" was a fist pumping triumph. Die! Die! Die! don’t have it in their soul to phone in a set. A brutal and chaotic energy flowed through the New Zealand punks from set start to set end. Andrew Wilson treated the whole Fusebox room as his stage settling himself in the crowd, above the crowd, in the ceiling, frankly wherever the hell he wanted to be.

Blurst of Times was a bit of a victory lap for DZ Deathrays, some final local shows to cap off their run of international shows. Their live show has become a lean and mean beast, drawing upon their most beloved bratty older cuts ("Dollar Chills", "Teenage Kickstarts") and the powerful stomp of tracks from Black Rat ("Reflective Skull", "Gina Works At Hearts", "Less Out Of Sync"). The mosh pit that it incited was a fitting was to finish the day, a cathartic conclusion to a perfectly curated assault of guitar rock.

All Photos By Larry Heath - except for the final photo by Oliver Heath.