Following an immense evening at The Corner, Weekender Fest round two eased itself in, solo sets from Hanny J and Bec Stevens serenading the hangover away at The Old Bar. Loobs and Paper Thin started to pick up the pace, as the crowd dispersed between The Old Bar and The Evelyn Hotel.
Again, the Weekender organisers deserve praise for the mellowness of the Saturday daytime lineups, the Evelyn featuring the dreamy Palm Springs and Jade Imagine, the magical yet powerful Mere Women, and the enigmatic Harmony. Just to remind us of the party to come, Cable Ties rounded out the afternoon, the ferocious post-punk three-piece smashing through the fuzzy brains in the crowd, delivering us from whatever seediness remained.
The Tote was where the real Weekender fest began, kicking off while Cable Ties were still smashing skulls. Adelaide four-piece Siamese kicked things off, an unexpected highlight of the entire weekend. They were relentlessly heavy, and though they had a sparse crowd, the entire upstairs was electrified. Cleverly crafted melodies were blown away when huge fuzz and overdrive emerged, the band at once mastering energy and apathy. Definitely a band to keep your eyes on.
Melbourne’s favourite terrible healthcare professionals, Wurst Nurse, took to the band room, vocalist Georgia Maq dominating the set with unshakable energy, gesticulations, floor drops, and some fantastic leopard print booty shorts. “Welcome to The Tote hospital…” she purrs, before launching into “Scalpel Attack”. They strongly deliver their don’t-fuck-with-us vibe, a strong message of “Fuck the patriarchy”.
Upstairs, Private Function were the antithesis of an exclusive, private function; the band thrashing out short, to-the-point, and outrageous punk. A synth even worked its way into the mix, sitting on a bar stool as its stand – that’s a good indication of the band. The vocalist was lurching around the stage and the floor, even off the stage, regaling us with tales of being high on acid in the back streets of Brunswick. He even pulled out a high-vis vest on during the last song, said that smoko was over, and promptly left the upstairs.
Hoodlum Shouts then took over the main stage, with a little something of all of Australia’s best punk bands in there; vibes anywhere between The Drones, Midnight Oil and The Nation Blue. The Pink Tiles followed, bringing the female quota up and giving a reprieve from the punk-saturated evening.
Again cementing themselves as one of Melbourne’s best up and coming live acts, Bench Press dominated the upstairs, vocalist Jack Stavrakis beginning his menacing pace before the band even took the stage. Opening with “I Don’t Like You Anyway”, the set featured heavily from their recent self-titled release, all driving bass riffs interplaying with loose guitar, a post-punk wonder.
Grinding Eyes brought some moody psych-rock to the mainstage, before FLOUR delivered even more psych, and serious grooves, to the upstairs. With two guitars, a bass, drums, and lots of hair, hard-rock vibes were present, with more melody, and a modern twist.
What a treat it was having alt-rockers Screamfeeder back together, and playing The Tote. The 90s mainstays roused sing-a-longs from long term fans, meanwhile converting the younger crowd. The hazy guitars blended seamlessly with Tim Steward’s unique vocals, the set even squeezing in a Hüsker Dü cover, as tribute to the passing of Grant Hart.
White Walls brough some kind of stoner rock-meets-Placebo vibe, two guitars and drums driving through the set. They were supremely loud (so much so, a speaker began breaking), riff heavy and dreamy. The absence of a bass player was barely even noticeable, the trio obviously knowing how to sling a riff and craft a tone. The nearly placated set was a perfect lead up to the impending insanity of Wet Lips and Clowns taking the stage.
Wet Lips were powerful. That’s the easiest way to put it, the all-female garage punk trio launching into their raucous set with no concerns. They even worked in a clothing gag, complaining about it being too hot as they stripped into glorious glittery clothes. Bassist Jenny McKechnie delivered her furious bass lines and vocals in a sparkly mini dress, tucked into her underpants (functional AND fashionable) – no fucks given, each member having a great time. That energy is infectious, as the crowd rose to meet their enthusiasm. The trio were flawless; banter, music, dynamic, themes, interplay, beer. All there and all brilliant.
What can I say about Clowns that hasn’t been said, as they’ve traversed the globe and torn apart hundreds of stages? They’re raucous yet put-together, a powerhouse fronted by Stevie Williams, an enigmatic front-man with serious talent. New(-ish) addition to the band Hanny J delivered some serious bass riffage, as well as some seriously nasty back-up vocals (that’s a compliment!).
With stage dives from Stevie and probably 50% of the crowd, it wasn’t surprising that the mosh was a spectacular mess, of feet flying into faces and non-stop surging. Broken glass and some very dishevelled punters could be seen after the set, as an exhausted crowd continued the shenanigans long into the evening. Clowns nearly brought the Tote down, their gig proving themselves as a world-class band, but proudly Melbourne’s own.
Screamfeeder Photo Credit: Stephen Booth.