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w/ The Love Junkies and The Tommyhawks

Saturday, March 25, 2017


Over the last few years there’s been a resurgence of 90s bands touring and performing classic albums in full. On Saturday night, Perth welcomed Spiderbait’s Ivy and the Big Apples to that trend. While the eastern states shows included other 90s Aussie punk icons The Meanies, Screamfeeder and Tumbleweed on the bill, Perth got a double helping of some solid Perth locals, The Tommyhawks and The Love Junkies.

The Tommyhawks

Femme blues-punks The Tommyhawks are no strangers to supporting big rock names, having previously opened for Courtney Love. Frontwoman Addison Axe (also of Axe Girl) captures the strong raspy tones of women of the grunge era, all while switching between guitar and electric mandolin, unmistakable on Lullaby and Bluebird. Perth has a wealth of talented female drummers and Jess Harris gives it her all, joined by Vanessa Thornton (Jebediah, Axe Girl), herself a heroine of the 90s indie music scene, on bass. But the distinctive sound of The Tommyhawks comes from Thea Woodward’s sax, which really shines through on the irresistibly catchy new single Bedroom, released this Friday at Mojos before the girls head over east for a set of shows in April and May.

The Love Junkies

Returning from a series of tours last year in the US and Australia, then a six month break, second support came from local favourites The Love Junkies. Never a band that disappoints, the Junkies showed off why they are a staple of the Perth scene. Now a four piece with Harley Barnaby (FOAM) on bass as Robbie Rumble taken up guitar, they’ve joined Mitch McDonald (vocals, guitar) and Elle Walsh (drums). The vocals of McDonald echoed Tim Rogers as the band produced a sound that switched between gritty rock screams and harmonious pop melodies, fitting in perfectly with the theme of the night. Their unique sound is embodied in tracks Television, Chemical Motivation and in recent release I Had a Party Once. A preview of a new track Past Intense anticipated an upcoming EP release, and hopefully, a third album. The Love Junkies have just been announced for RTR’s In The Pines in April at Somerville.


Having not had a lineup change in a 26 year career, original Spiderbait members Kram (Mark Maher), Janet English and Damian ‘Whit’ Whitty took to the stage and proved they’ve still got it. Spiderbait are one of those rare bands with a drummer as frontman, and while Kram took centre stage he was out-done by the talented Janet sharing vocals and on bass.

English is undoubtedly one of Australia’s rock matriarchs. Looking back, the influence she’s had on the scene at a time when female musicians in rock, in Australia, were few and far between has been under-recognised.

Kram was evidently not impressed with the audience’s apparent lack of enthusiasm, which he repeatedly pointed out. Perhaps Kram has forgotten that many of the people attending a Spiderbait concert these days would be a good twenty years older, no longer wearing cargo pants and less eager to get into the mosh. However, the energy on the floor gave a different perspective with many punters enthusiastically dancing and singing along to their favourite tracks.

And Ivy and the Big Apples is full of Spiderbait’s greatest hits. If there was any show for diehard fans to see, this would have been it. Played in full, from the start of Chest Hair that had the crowd shouting “yeah!” to the thirteen minute stoner comedown of Driving Up the Ceiling, the sixteen song set list was full of raucous fun. It was easy to remember why Spiderbait are such an iconic band with well deserved Aria-winning status.


Tracks on the album are in keeping with the true punk style of being short and punchy, interspersed with longer grunge rock anthems and ballads. The night belonged to the singles and Triple J favourites with highlights obviously Hot Water and Milk, Buy Me a Pony, the gorgeous Calypso and Joyce’s Hut. But it was some of the lesser known tracks that really made their mark in the set. Janet’s pixie voiced and ukulele-strummed Goin’ Off, and heavy hitters Don’t Kill Nipper and Hawaiian Nights utilised the most of Metro’s lighting rig.

The encore produced some serious classics beginning with the foot stomper Old Man Sam from 1993 debut album Shashavaglava, followed with 2004 album Tonight Alright‘s killer tracks Fucken Awesome and an extended version of Black Betty. For some reason the cover of Lead Belly’s Black Betty is the band’s most popular track on media streaming services, and the crowd certainly enjoyed the closer, but old school fans missed out on hearing another classic Monty that was performed in encore sets over east.

If nothing else, Spiderbait’s fantastic performance reminded us of a golden era of Aussie grunge, rock and punk, which maybe some of us have forgotten. If it’s been a while since you’ve listened to Ivy, it may be time to dust off the CD player and crank it up. Yeah!


Photos by Paul Dowd Photography

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