The Astor Theatre
Friday, August 15, 2014
Spiderbait hold a special place in the hearts and minds of the Aussie rock fan – from the early ‘90s they stormtrooped the indie music charts and Triple J with their catchy, rocking tunes, sense of cheeky fun and don’t-give-a-fuck eclecticism.
After a hiatus of almost a decade they returned with an album last year, and finally got back to our side of the country for a long-awaited bash.
Openers Axe Girl delivered a bouncy, poptastic set led by the obvious onstage experience of the Jebediah rhythm section Vanessa Thornton & Brett Mitchell, and the quirky talent of frontwoman/guitarist Addison Axe. They’ve got the enthusiasm and the songs, and the more faces they get into, the more their stock shall rise.
Spiderbait started their set with a crushingly Motorhead-like drum mayhem of Stare At The Sun. Drummer and singer Kram was in a talkative mood, explaining how the song came to be when he set all his drums up in a garage and tried to play them.
That it was a slightly ramshackle affair to start with (guitars need retuning, Kram rambles on a bit between songs and prowls the stage, scowling like a caged beast) merely made it a more endearing affair. They’re just three childhood friends doing what they love they way they want to, and where it counts – musically – they are excellent, a six-legged rock machine making the sort of noise most bands will only ever dream of.
The key to their success is their sheer eclecticism. Heavy as God one minute (Scenester – ‘one of the first metal songs we ever wrote’), mischievous and fun the next (a blast through The Goodies’ Run is a highlight, as is set closer Ol’ Man Sam), and when bassist Janet English takes lead vocals (Outta My Head, It’s Beautiful, Fucking Awesome – which is just that) they achieve the perfect balance between saccharine pop, crushing riffs and a relentless rhythm section. It’s no surprise later in the show when Kram spontaneously introduces his old friend as ‘one of the finest singers in this country.’
Buy Me A Pony, the anti-music industry rant that was the first Australian song to top the Triple J Hottest 100 back in 1996, gives English the chance to play drums while Kram takes the frontman role, and sounds as vital and relevant now as it did then.
A four-track encore bookended by two covers seals the deal, owning The Astor without a shadow of a doubt. English singing Nena’s 99 Luftballoons in German is a left of centre treat that perfectly fits with their anarchic pop-colliding-with-rock modus operandi, and the mad dog heavy blues of Leadbelly’s Black Betty, practically sees plaster falling from the ceiling such is its intensity.
‘There’s nothing better than playing in a band with your best friends – it’s great,’ Kram states, again in a moribund voice, but the sentiment is echoed by the entire, practically sold out, Astor Theatre.