By ‘Sick’ Rick Girvan
Pics as credited
A total wrap-up of last weekend’s Total Attack fest in Brisbane, which raised some hell in the Beetle Bar and raised some coin to help refugees.
THURSDAY: WARM UP GIG
The beginning of the madness, kickin’ off four days of Total Attack. I’d started to become the massive ball of stress that I am at the start of every year. We’d been printing shirts at NGM all day since 8am getting shit done in time for the festival (as per usual!), all the while having interstate folks rocking up, coming in to check out the store for the first time and chin-waggin’. We managed to get it all done and buggered off to the Beetle Bar.
First up on the night was SEX DRIVE, making their debut in Brisbane – they’d only ever played strange shows down the Gold Coast or Byron, with surf rock bands. They really were a good kick-off band, playing a kind of power-pop/garage style of hardcore. They have a very direct delivery but with no macho posturing, no “weird” vibes, just good energy.
After this I had to set up and play in RIPPED OFF. I missed most of our set as I could barely play that night and we were a bit shambolic. Callum lost a stick then knocked over his stool, I forgot a whole song, Jarrod was dressed like some kind of greasy sex-mechanic and managed to climb all over the FOH and mezzanine during our set. All in all, I thought we were crap – but a lot of people seemed very stoked?
SHACKLES followed, and way more people had arrived – flights had landed, Ubers had Uber’d. As per usual, they didn’t disappoint. They whipped out a lot of new material, which I would say you can expect on all their upcoming splits and their second LP. I didn’t manage to see a lot of their set due to talking too much garbage with people I haven’t seen in ages whilst doing the door, but there was definitely a good vibe after they were done.
SEWERCIDE set up right quick once Shackles were done and they actually played this night as a three-piece; Tobi on bass and vocals, Tom on guitar and Ollie on drums. They proceeded to play a set of mostly older material pre-Tobi handling vocals, the much more thrash-y stuff, which actually took on a whole new life once played through the stripped-back trio and with Tobi’s vocals. Killer set!
Bringing the night to a close was Singaporean punks LUBRICANT who ended up being a massive show stealer for the whole weekend, bringing out the silly moshin’ and killer songs. I had to watch them from up the back near the door in case anyone rolled through. The guys reckoned they were a bit loose but I definitely could not spot it. Amazing hardcore punk that easily stands toe-to-toe with any of their US and Euro contemporaries.
After their set I could feel the stress starting to leave my body – day one over! The show ended up being a massive success, the best Thursday gig we’ve ever done for a Total Attack with probably about 100 people rollin’ out to kickstart their weekend. Bob from the Beetle Bar managed to wrangle a bunch of drunkards who didn’t want to sleep into helping him get some stuff ready upstairs for the proceeding two-stage onslaught.
FRIDAY: MAIN GIG DAY #1
Again, we’re at it by about 8am printing tees for CUM and PLAN OF ATTACK so that they’ll be done for the weekend. I’m alright, until about midday when the shop starts getting flooded with more interstate people, more shit talking and not so much work getting done. Thankfully, the shirts got printed and all had left to do was get some gear together and take it to the Beetle Bar.
This proved to be harder than expected, only managing to leave around 4:30pm when I had intended to be at the Beetle Bar ready to set everything up by 3:30/4:00pm in time for 5pm doors. Got stuck in a shit-tonne of traffic on my way to pick up gear but managed to get it all together. I arrived at the Beetle Bar to find the sound guys going hell for leather trying to get everything set up for the dual-stage chaos we had planned. Unfortunately, two of the bands on the night had to pull out – this ended up being a blessing in disguise, pulling the show back on time.
HURRICANE DEATH opened proceedings downstairs for the night, young-ish guns going hard at a more death-metal flavoured, Insect Warfare style of grind. The mayhem of doors opening, people figuring out where the venue was and already being in a drunken stupor meant that I wasn’t able to see a lot, but they definitely played to a good crowd. We had to navigate a constant line-up at the door to get in for almost an hour and a half – very daunting.
OBAT BATUK followed them downstairs after STATIONS OF THE CROSS had to pull out due to sickness. These guys are the biggest legends. You can’t watch them and be bummed out, you can only leave with a shit-eating grin on your face. Total Newcastle goofball gold, stupid songs with awesome music. They got a great response and I definitely feel they are a band that will always have a second home in Brisbane.
GROTTO kicked it straight in the guts upstairs right after Obat. If you’re familiar with the tape, maybe get rid of that notion and try your hardest to see them live because for me they were so much better live. It’s quite hard to be a formidable three-piece with the front person trapped behind an instrument but they really make it work. The songs have a loose early-eighties hardcore vibe mixed with the right amount of rock ’n’ roll frills – they can play but they aren’t too polished. One of my personal favourite sets of the weekend, and definitely helped lift some of the looming anxiety.
CONTAMINATED took a little to get going (technical difficulties or whatever) but once they got it into gear they didn’t let up one bit – total gut-wrenching death metal. They were totally on fire, with Zev up front jumping around and keeping things lively. It made for a very different experience to your usual, boring-to-watch metal band. The LP that they’ve just recorded will no doubt be a crushing masterpiece.
KOLLAPS were a real shining beacon for something different. Admittedly I wasn’t able to lay eyes on them but they resonated disgusting yet somehow soothing sounds throughout the whole venue – the sound upstairs really carried well. More of these industrial noise bands need to take the punk route I reckon, put themselves in front of freaks who love being blasted by noise.
ROGERNOMIX were next up downstairs, and by all accounts they smashed it. This is around the time when shit started to get really, really loose – I’m running around trying to sort shit out, everyone’s gettin’ fucked up, cops are rolling up outside the venue to try bust people for drinkin’, the fella from the union building next door is dousing people in buckets of water to get them off the steps of the building…
NO CLASS, baby! After being a band for not much more than a year now, they’ve really pulled off some great stuff. I played their first show at Essenfest down in Melbourne with Sick People where they absolutely tore my head off – real rock ’n’ roll played by punks who love their drinkin’ and classic Oi! This set was a bit looser than usual for them – maybe the nerves and 10pm slot got to them – but they went down wonders. They played a new song that I wasn’t familiar with, which almost seemed like it could be some outrageous union chant? Top shelf!
INTERNAL ROT were the best I’ve seen them, no doubt about it – and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen this amazing band over the past few years. Say what you might if you’re not a fan of grindcore but this trio just takes it all to the next level, from Brad bending over backwards smashin’ the guitar like it’s the last thing he will ever do, Max jumping around and pulling faces whilst belting out the most disturbing vocal range, Christoph just smashin’ the fuck outta the kit with disgustingly good precision all with his trademark “FUCK”s after every song. People were getting really wild by this point, moshin’ all around, stage diving, just straight-up bonkers behaviour for one of the best bands in Oz.
BED WETTIN’ BAD BOYS changed the pace and mood of the night considerably which was great after a slew of somewhat “extreme” acts. A nice bit of poppy rock ’n’ roll was great, and they played my favourite songs, so I was laughin’! Nick was in his classic sarcastic, havin’ a laff prime – talking all sorts of nonsense about punk confrences and Dizzee Rascal. It amazes me that these guys still sit in this weird middle ground where people aren’t losing their mind but there’s a solid group of people who definitely appreciate them.
After the BWBB’s we had a bit of a break, give everyone a rest from incessant chaos, excessive volume and all that. The “after party” would pick up in about an hour’s time. I spent most of this time having a mild meltdown, attempting to recoup and just talking to some people for the first time all night.
South Australia’s slammin’ punk footy fans CUM were up first, followed by a gloomy end-of-the-night set by Melbourne’s LAKES. Both bands apparently playing fantastic sets as I got told by troves of people. I was wishing that maybe I shouldn’t have talked to people, and just watched more bands instead.
Anyway, we buggered off to drop our mate Chris home, fuel tank was empty, just made it to a servo down the road from his place, went and got shitty McDonald’s at 3am, got back home and talked a heap of shit then went to bed.
SATURDAY: MAIN GIG DAY #2
I woke up this morning planning to actually go into work at 9am and do more shit, but lo and behold, it’s 10:45 and I’m just waking up, freaking out about being back at the venue for the doors opening at 1pm. This one was always going to be massive. We had about 30 tickets left to sell on the door and people were hassling us about tickets since Thursday night! Turns out I made it to the venue with plenty of time and was met with the friendly faces of Rollo (Blowhard / Spike City / Bad Ronald) and Alex (Rollo’s legend of a kid!) who it turns out were helping do sound today. These two made all of the sound at 2015’s Total Attack possible, real life savers. We waited for Bob to rock up with shitloads more booze for the weekend and we started setting everything up.
ASBESTOSISIS is not really the band you want to witness at 2pm on a Saturday after writing yourself off the night before, but by god they were fantastic. I don’t know what it is with Melbourne, but if they can get anything right it’s grindcore – filthy, gurgling, grotesque, unsettlingly good grindcore. They didn’t fuck around, and the show miraculously was running ahead of schedule!
PRIORS was first on upstairs, and for those not in the know, it’s basically PRAG with a different bass player and playing a more “punk” style. Far more Spanish sounding to me, it’s all in the bass lines, and their new bass player Josh (HALT EVER) is a freakin’ gun and it pushes it to the next level. Glad I got to see these guys…hardcore this early in the day is PERFECT.
STATIONS OF THE CROSS worked through their health issues and we managed to slot them on downstairs in place of URGE TO KILL who bailed a couple weeks out from the fest. For a band having synths in place of guitars, it was not lacking one bit. The overbearingly vicious synth almost seemed like it should have been in a harsh noise project, it was fantastic. Those who liked their 7” would definitely be glad to know they are even better live.
SISTEMA EN DECADENCIA is quite a new band, having played maybe three of four shows prior to this, but they are a honed unit for a fresh band. Mikey and Pat from PRAG are both on guitar and drums, respectively, with James Dadd (former singer for SOMA COMA) on bass, and a Spaniard living in Australia named Carlos on vocals. Real powerhouse noisy hardcore, not too dissimilar to the likes of Framtid, Gloom or the earlier Paranoid material.
TERRITORY are bringing back the long lost sound of stadium-crust – remember Tragedy, Wolfbrigade, His Hero Is Gone, Martyrdodd and all of that? Well, Perth’s not afraid to dabble in that stuff again. Consisting of basically three-quarters of WARTHREAT (Micky, Luke and Luke) plus Kim from DROWNING HORSE and Kyle of PEOPLE PROBLEM, it’s almost verging on a supergroup. Admittedly, this style has never really done it for me, but the execution of Territory made it. Great songwriting, awesome stage presence, right amount of metal riffs and frills. A huge highlight of the weekend for me. By this point people were starting to rock up after Friday night and get into it.
DERAILMENT is supposedly a trainwreck themed band, which is kinda fitting cause that’s how it sounded from where I was. Heavy, crushing, loose and off the rails. Lot of good feedback on these guys, I think they took a lot of people by surprise. This lot are a three-piece made up of Lachlan, Christoph and Zev from CONTAMINATED.
FACELESS BURIAL is the most confusing, unlikely supergroup of sorts you can imagine. Max Kohane (AGENTS OF ABHORRENCE, INTERNAL ROT, etc), Fuj (WHITE WALLS) and Alex (THE STEVENS) are the most complex, ridiculously heavy three piece I think I’ve ever seen. Amazing to see these three playing some late eighties, early nineties style Autopsy styled death-metal. They were a real show stealer, and played just at the right time for loads of people to still be really receptive, just arriving, not too pissed – one of the best bands of the weekend.
CLOGGED up next on the second stage upstairs. Total dumb fuckin’ pogo-mosh-blast-grind with Zev, Brad (SFHS, INTERNAL ROT) and Nik (THE KILL). It’s the most stupid, un-serious, yet totally awesome grind to happen in ages. In fact, I would argue that it’s barely grind at all, it’s just straight up mosh riffs for doing dumb shit.
PLAN OF ATTACK stuck out like a sore thumb by the time 6pm and all the youthful more “punk” outfits had played, switching things up with their hard-edged style of Oi! Unfortunately they had to play as a four-piece due to Trev having to go back to Canada last minute, so there was lots of old songs and a few simplified renditions of newer songs in their set. It was good to put this band in front of some new faces, in my opinion they are one of the best Oi! bands in the world. They dragged a bit of a different crowd out too, which was good to see.
SELF HARM was a band I pretty much was hanging the whole weekend to see, and I only got to see about 30 seconds of one song because the power tripped out and by the time I’d found someone to fix it, they had played already. I didn’t get to see bugger all of it, but they are the best form of demented, punk-rooted black metal. Perth knows what it’s doing!
THE WIZAR’D really changed the pace of things, Tasmania has some freakishly good bands and it does my head in. Really top-shelf Witchfinder General traditional heavy metal stuff. You could see heads banging throughout the venue and they didn’t miss a beat. I can’t believe that dude’s voice is so freakin’ good! It was an honour to bring ’em up for their first mainland show.
IRONHAWK were pretty much the best band of Total Attack last year. They came straight outta nowhere (being from Tasmania and all) for most people and just blew minds. This year they goddamn did it again, stepping it up to the next level. It honestly felt like I was witnessing something special. Urgent music that was just barely holding in their, fighting to survive and going 1000 miles an hour. Simon’s vocals are maniacal, twisted and the way he plays guitar is almost as if it’s a weapon, it’s not about accuracy, it’s about POWER. Mitch the drummer is like some sort of inhuman machine gun just smashing his way through the set with immense precision all held together nicely by Ang on bass. 100% satisfaction guaranteed like Discharge crossing over with Venom and a machine gun.
PINCHGUT, another one of the Tassie bands who made the trek up, are pretty hard to describe. It’s definitely hardcore punk, but there is a lot going on. Not your usual playing style, interesting chord structures and progression and great mix of aggressive, brain-shattering vocals to a softer, almost spoken-word delivery. They were marred with constant technical difficulties, but they pushed through and did a great job I thought. Their debut 7” is a real scorcher and will be available from ONE BRICK TODAY really soon!
LUBRICANT had well and truly hit their stride over here in Oz. They’d played seven shows in eight days and this set was the next level. Figured I would just watch them side of stage, keep it chill, appreciate it – but after about two songs it was uncontrollable, I had to launch myself off the stage in amongst the rest of the crowd going bonkers. People were stage diving, pushing each other around, fist pumpin’, just going burko, ya know? Amazing set. A personal highlight of the weekend.
OCCULTS wrangled it together and smashed out a set of plodding goth-rock upstairs in their usual style. They are playing a lot of new stuff and a lot faster, keep an eye on ’em!
STANLEY KNIFE kicked off the barrage of bands playing downstairs for the rest of the night. I was pretty uncertain how they would go down in this crowd and I wondered with their recent addition of Danny Sano (DEATHCAGE, REDSTAIN) on guitar if it would still be the same as I remembered it. It wasn’t… it was WAY BETTER. All the songs were faster, Drew’s vocals more insane than ever, agonised and tormented he’s getting around stage like a possessed man. Great mixed crowd of old folks and young’ns going mental, they whipped out classics such as “Neddy Smith” and “Back in the DSS” alongside their hyperspeed covers of Dead Boys’ “Sonic Reducer” and Fear’s “I Love Livin In The City”.
SICK PEOPLE had to play next, and following after Stanley Knife was always going to be hard. We haven’t been able to practice due to how busy I’ve been in lead up to the festival, but the set went well. Lots of people getting active in the pit, male and female alike, people stage diving and getting silly. All in all I reckon it was a good set but how much can you write about your own band?
TOL followed us and they are one of my favourite bands at the moment. TOL is simply LAKES rearranged with Justin on Guitar, Lee on Bass and Sean on drums and vocals. Super interesting post-punk meets brooding aggressive hardcore, maybe comparable to Rudimentary Peni and Amebix. Their brand new single is out on No Patience and really fuckin’ good. I do kind of wish they had a frontman and that people would go wild to them like they deserve! The basslines and writing of the songs are just mind blowingly infectious.
KITCHEN’S FLOOR changed the pace, much like BWBB’s the night before them. Their recent LP is such a brilliant piece of depressing downer rock, really honest and grim, a great snapshot of Brisbane. I wasn’t able to see them this night, which bummed me out but a lot of good feedback from un-expecting people who were taken by surprise.
Break time again, load up on beers, sit out the front, talk some shit and strap back in for the after party.
GELD got it all going again with quite a loose set, all covered in bubbles and funky lights. Not sure how to describe them other than D-beaty powerhouse hardcore, few “weird” elements that stray from the formula – but definitely a good, wild band for the time slot. Made up of Al and Tom from GENTLEMEN, Issac from POWER/SOMA COMA and Cormy from KROMOSOM.
IRONHAWK set back up again after GELD and churn through a dozen Motörhead covers. I only managed to catch half the set but by this time of the night I was destroyed so bailed on home. It was truly for the diehard party freaks!
SUNDAY: MAIN GIG DAY #3
Sunday mornings aren’t the best for anyone, let alone after three days (or one big day if you haven’t slept for the whole weekend) of hardcore punk and whateverthefuckelse. The day got moving pretty slowly but it rolled along pretty well and surprisingly kicked off on time, with plenty of people turning up early.
CARNAL URGE were set to open the day but their singer never eventuated, even after the band had set up and sound checked so hilariously Rollo (BLOWHARD) sang “Two Little Boys” over one of their songs as part of his theory that he can sing the song over any type of music. Great outcome if you ask me.
I ended up having to run around and sort out crap so I missed the next three bands; UNPEOPLE, LAKES and CUM.
ALTERED VISIONS barely pulled it together, but it was the perfect band to have on the Sunday: hungover, gross, head banging stench-core. Really brought me some serious Concrete Sox and Deviated Instinct vibes. Killer fuckin’ three-piece!
ROGERNOMIX really blew me away with this set. You could feel the energy coming off the band. Their guitarist Sam was like a man possessed, his guitar merely a tool for destruction. The riffs just kept on pounding me in the face ,and by god the bass tone was killer! One of the best bands i’ve seen doing the “D-beat” style in quite a while.
IDYLLS played their first show with Fred from Clever on bass, and it’s probably the best point the band has been at. Almost abandoning the musical efforts of their earlier stuff and heading in a non-musical direction with occasional bits of swing. Just a pure wall of noise. Infectious, almost Godflesh-styled bass lines, abrasive saxaphone and agonisingly pounding drums. Beautiful effort but horrible for a hungover Sunday by the looks on a lot of peoples faces trying to process it all.
HEAVY BREATHER ended up being the last band to play upstairs. They blew the bass cab so we had to shuffle things around and put TACTICAL ATTACK on at the end of the night downstairs. I completely missed their whole set because I didn’t even hear them start from out the front until people came out for a breather afterwards! Total bummer, but their new three-song 7” is out now from the band and Oz distros.
SEWERCIDE, despite the turbulence of their drummer Ollie quitting, played their entire new LP that they spent the last two weeks in Brisbane recording – and by fuck were they on point. The whole thing could have exploded at any minute. Since going on tour with these guys back in 2013 it’s like been watching a monster form in front of my eyes. No matter what hits them they keep rolling and become an unstoppable beast. They are headed off to the USA in a couple of weeks, and are sure to smash the fuck outta the seppos! The best metal is done with a total punk back bone and this lot proved it.
LUBRICANT’s set was without a doubt the most stupid, fun, ridiculous set of the weekend. I think maybe 10 seconds into their first song I was headed inside only to see Lewis from No Patience being carried outside by little Nathan from SCAB EATER, and Micky from SELF HARM/TERRITORY then dumped in the gutter and rolled under a car for wearing all white. The antics kept on for the whole set, people piggy-back stage diving, pogoing all around, Lewis climbing up onto the mezzanine to escape from being bullied by everyone. This set was particularly good because all of the interstate people who were kind of more reserved really just let loose, lots of the Perth people just having a lot of fun, ladies dancing around, too. Just a really good fun set and the band really fed on that energy.
TACTICAL ATTACK rung out the night in good style, riding the wave of everyone’s high after all the fun and antics during Lubricant. Tactical Attack play frantic hardcore that is very hard to define, never going over into grind territory but always being at the verge of falling apart – breakneck speed with guitar work like Die Kreuzen or Void. Stacey’s a very different front person for a hardcore band, the way she carries on is like a interpretive dancer it’s quite creepy but fits the music very well. Not just one of the best bands of the weekend, but one of the best bands in the entire country that continue to go under appreciated.
All in all, TA 6 was a massive success. We ended up donating $8580 to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) after all the costs – which is a huge effort and approximately $2500 more than we were able to do last year. It’s great to see people coming together to benefit people who need it while having fun at the same time. The more steam and traction we gain, the more money we are able to put towards good causes.