Remember the good ol’ days in Melbourne where the music scene was less about the “scene” and more about the good music? Where a rock and roll punter was happy with a good glass of red wine or tap beer, and not simply the latest designer drink? Remember the days when it wasn’t seemingly uncool for people to basically lose their shit over a local pub act?

Sheriff, along with their motley crew of support acts and a rocking crowd, brought back fond memories of the vintage rock scene, and (thankfully) proved that this side of the music scene hasn’t died completely.

Sun God Replica strolled on stage first and got straight into it. Everything from the skilled rock and bluesy lead guitar work, to the lead singer’s safari suit, zebra print guitar strap and moustache..  In fact, the picture in front of the crowd along with the acidic Zeppelin sounds made one almost believe that they had stepped back to a better time.

The costumed, I Am Duckeye flew on next, beginning their myriad of penis references and hard rock with – appropriately – their song “Sperm Whale.”  This ended with the guitarists playing their instruments above their heads in unison, then later the bassist punching his strings to somehow form musical sound, then later again playing between his legs.

The insanity didn’t stop for the rest of the set. The crowd heard tales about the importance of stretching one’s “nutsack before rock and roll”, offered a free band sticker “if they can smell my mask without fucking vomiting” and constant high pitched obscene rambles from the lead singer, such as awkwardly mentioning that “Sheriff inserting themselves inside of us…”

The bassist later attempted to drag an unsuspecting girl on stage to help him play, after failing ; he ended up with a member of Sheriff instead. There was a song with lyrics about partying with the Miami attacker who was shot dead by the police after eating a homeless man’s face; and later, the lead singer jeered at his fellow guitarist: “you loved that song you indie poof”. Then a song about “Punching dicks, punching all the dicks.” They finally finished by forming a human pyramid while still playing.

Unfortunately, this explanation is not nearly graphic or detailed enough to describe I Am Duckeye’s crowd interaction. The only way to truly understand what they’re all about is to experience the madness for yourself.

Sheriff seemingly had a hard act to follow, however kept up the room’s energy from the start with a whole lot of hair flipping and good old-fashioned rock and roll.

It didn’t take long before lead singer Thomas Watson stepped off the stage, while still playing, to dance with the crowd; and by crowd, this means the entire audience – Watson did not neglect the people at the back. This was an all-encompassing gig and not a single punter was spared from the electrifying energy spewing from the band.

The band members jumped on top of tables, ledges, anything they could really. At one point Watson was ferried around the venue on a punter’s shoulders.  One girl was invited on stage for her birthday and was told to play the cowbell, the first of many random stage invaders throughout the gig.

The music itself was played to perfection – these guys know exactly how to manipulate their instruments and twist tales into their lyrics. Their sound, a sort of weird fusion of Southern hard rock and Bluesy roll came together with utter finesse, and stories about zombies and a being called ‘Simon Young’ rolled out skilfully.

Towards the end, the band’s chanting: “left, right, left, right”, as Watson marched along, rove them into the next song – increasing the impact of the music.

The only real criticism to be picked would be the microphone was simply not loud enough to compete with the other instruments. That’s it. Everything else was played/sang/danced/whatever to sheer enjoyment.

Heed this warning: do not leave seeing Sheriff until it’s too late. This band will not be able to party with the crowd when they play at bigger venues with more people. And yes, that is a very firm ‘when’. Go see them, their next gig is August 9 at the Tote.

– Tara Emily