To celebrate the 30th anniversary of The Tote, various bands have either reformed or performed to celebrate this momentous occasion. The last thirty-five days have featured curated nights by various Melbourne identities and staples, such as DJ, musicians and magazines such as Inpress. Tonight’s lineup was the final night of these celebrations. It was curated by Mr Julian Wu, man about town, musician and, as memorably described by The Age EG, ‘barbecue sensei’, of which there was plenty on offer this afternoon and evening.
The Spazzys warmed up the crowd with a joyful and rambunctious set. Heavily featuring the long awaited second album, Dumb Is Forever, which is currently available only in Japan, the three piece showed that these girls had lost none of the fire or charm over the years. Tonight’s set featured great tracks like “Astral Planes”, “Dissolution” and “Hey Hey”. The new material went over well with the gathering crowd on this sold out night. A great way to start proceedings.
Next up was an incredibly rare and highly enjoyable set from Mach Pelican. Formed by three Japanese students in Perth in 1996, the three piece specialise in Ram-inspired pop punk played at a rattling rate. Most of the band’s tracks barely clock in at two minutes. Tonight’s crowd was a very warm and welcoming one. The affection and joy the crowd felt with seeing Mach Pelican play live for the first time in many years, and at their spiritual home, The Tote, was palpable and infectious.
This was truly a crowd primed to go off, evident by the impressive mosh pit and occasional stage diver during the band’s set. Track high points included “Radio”, the still utterly infectious “Going To Chicago”, “She’s The Devil”, the heartfelt tribute to a couple of the band’s heroes, “Johnny & Dee Dee” and “Rock And Roll Honesty”. That sense of straight ahead rock and unpretentious quality endeared them to this crowd no end. The band finished their set with a storming version of “The KKK Took My Baby Away”, which had everyone in the room singing as one. A fine set from this dearly missed band.
Finally , the headline act, Guitar Wolf, hit the stage. Formed in 1987, in a nod to one of their inspirations, The Ramones, the band members are known as Guitar Wolf (Seiji), Bass Wolf (U.G.) and Drum Wolf (Toru), However, what has inspired this unique and positively deafness-inducing band goes much further than this. Incorporating elements of early rock and roll, punk and industrial noise, Guitar Wolf this evening put in a truly anarchic and inspired set. It is the first time in many years that this scribe felt that anything could truly happen with a band and their live performance.
Tonight, this three piece created a sound so fierce and annihilating, it could have knocked you through the wall separating the band room and the front bar at The Tote. Song-wise, about the only thing recognisable was a cover version/poleaxing of Link Wray’s “Rumble”. Apart from that, the listener was well and truly on their own in regards to where this band and the truly extraordinary sound took them. All three band members, dressed in leather and sunglasses, were truly incredible in the way that they attacked their instruments and created total and utter sonic mayhem.
This inspired what can only be described as an industrial strength, not for beginners, mosh pit, one of the most fierce The Tote has ever seen in its history. There was even an audience member dressed in full air force flight suit and helmet, such as the insanity that this band provoke. The sonic landscapes created live were incredibly compelling and wonderful to get lost in. The way the band connected with the crowd was insane. At one point, a crowd member was playing guitar. There was another that involved a human pyramid and the lead singer on top, screaming his head off.
For sheer spectacle and the utterly incredible force of what was created sonically, this was a sensational night. Quite possible the loudest band this scribe has ever seen, and one of the most insane crowds ever assembled in one place. A fantastic night. If Guitar Wolf tour Australia again, don’t miss them.
– Neil Evans