There’s something a tad off about The Tote at 8.30pm. Nowhere to be seen are the regular drunkards and tattoo-laden jailbirds that you might usually come across, and walking through the bar you can almost breathe through your nose without an onslaught of beer fumes and various other odours offending the nostrils. Let’s face it; The Tote just isn’t a place that you would usually go to that early.

Perhaps because of this, there weren’t a whole lot of people to be seen in The Tote band room when New Zealander garage rockers Street Chant opened the night for Bleeding Knees Club. This was a supreme loss for those who showed up later, however, as there was absolutely nothing mediocre about this band. It’s often hard for female garage/punk rockers to pull the music off without looking and sounding like complete parodies of themselves (i.e: The Spazzys), but these chicks nailed it to a tee. Wearing their influences on their sleeves (and their t-shirts), they mustered up the spirits of many a punk and garage rocker alike. Teamed with the male drummer’s speedy beats (which in itself was worth going to see them for), these girls put on a great show that you’d be sorry to have missed.

A short tram ride away, Immigrant Union were playing at Northcote Social Club. With members from The Dandy Warhols, Lazy Sons and The Galvatrons, it is indeed interesting to speculate what sort of sound they may have before you see them, and boy, they do not disappoint. These seasoned musicians played an extremely tight set of fun country jams, despite all appearing to be completely and utterly blazed for the duration of the show.

It would be hard to think of a cooler bunch of guys to be in one band. Enigmatic front man Bob Harrow channelled Willie Nelson, keyboardist Gamma Lubulwa looked like the very mysterious Mr Robert Johnson in his get up, and played like he may have sold his soul at the crossroads too, and guitarist Brent Deboer… well; he’s Brent Deboer… from The Dandy Warhols. It was disappointing that Deboer didn’t sing lead in more of the songs, as the songs he did sing in were incredibly impressive. That being said, Harrow did a more than brilliant job fronting the band, and they provided a great contrast to all the rock ‘n’ roll going on at The Tote.

Meanwhile, back at The Tote, King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard were putting on a set not to be forgotten. Although they’re newcomers, this band has been creating whirlpools in the local music scene, and for good reason. Playing surfy psychedelic tunes reminiscent of International Artists circa ’66, these guys have a live show as charismatic as it is dogmatic. Two floosies in the front row straddled front man Stu Mackenzie’s legs in between his violent leaps around the stage, another band member threw up during their set, and this is just the tip of the iceberg of what you can expect to see at one of Gizzard’s shows.

It would prove difficult for Bleeding Knees Club to eclipse King Gizzard’s very rock ‘n’ roll performance, but they held their own very nicely. Also very new to the Australian music scene, these guys have been somewhat of an overnight success. Watching them play, it becomes obvious as to why they’ve achieved this instant attention. For a two-man band, the sound these guys produce is mega, and there’s something extremely satisfying about seeing a drummer that sings lead as well. Their lo-fi garage tunes have enough pop sensibility to appeal to people of any musical preference, and this showed in the audience. The usual all-black-wearing, 25+-year-old crowd was replaced by a younger, more colourful bunch, all of who were not afraid to get down and have a boogie. ‘Bad Guys’ was a crowd favourite, and it was hard to keep yourself from singing along and they ripped through it. With their catchy songs and growing fan base, it would not be surprising if this tour may be the last time you could catch them in a smaller venue.

–       Ella Jackson