Those that were willing to stay up past Sydney’s bedtime reaped the rewards at Wednesday night’s intimate but rollicking double headliner Beach Slang/Spring King show. From the US and the UK respectively, the co-headliners both brought their punk rock to Australia for the first time by way of Oxford Art Factory, playing an amazing (though achingly under-attended) Splendour sideshow.
First, Sydney’s own Food Court dished out their delicious garage-rock to the sparse yet attentive early crowd. The four-piece paired understated banter with tight tunes, including their fresh single ‘For The Morning’. OAF eventually filled to half-capacity with punters sporting beards and band shirts, before Philadelphia’s Beach Slang appeared and proclaimed ‘We are Beach Slang and we’re gonna tear this room apart’. Thanks to a combination of great songs and a front man born to be a rock star, they did just that.
James Alex’s growling vocals nailed gems like ‘Dirty Cigarettes’, accentuating every power chord with a jump or a bow and working up a sweat in a ridiculously frilly shirt and tres punk open jacket with old-school badges. The US band copped some good-hearted heckling about drop bears and Vegemite (only to be expected from such a cosy show) and the set was punctured by a game of ‘you shout a riff, our guitarist will play it’ which evolved into a string of classic rock covers. Would it be a punk gig without an ode to California? No, so luckily the guys delivered one with their ‘Porno Love’. Other highlights included ‘Punks in a Disco Bar’, the single from Slang’s next record, and low points were limited only to excessive guitar tuning in a strange air of silence between songs.
Spring King re-arranged things for the closing slot, bringing the drums forward and performing in a line tantalizingly close to the crowd. We were graced with Manchester’s take on punk rock, their songs less lyrically nuanced than Slang’s, but a set that felt more polished and less showy. ‘Demons’ saw all four members on mic for the reverb-y chorus, a tinge of surf rock bled through the riffs on ‘Can I?’ and catchy Triple J favourite ‘City’ was awesome live.
Drummer/frontman/producer Tarek Musa carried the set, only straying from his kit to sing the ghostly, politically charged ‘They’re Coming After You’, during which an inebriated audience member took it upon himself to wander up on stage, Snapchat the experience and then hop back down. The crowd favourite ‘Detroit’ was born to be live, and many a glass was raised in appreciation of its big hooky chorus.
With excellent songs and all-or-nothing energy, even on a weeknight Beach Slang and Spring King proved punk rock just might live forever.