Pony gigs are notoriously touch and go. Climbing up those twisting stairs, usually at some ridiculous hour and slightly worse for wear, what lies beyond Melbourne’s worst smelling toilets is usually a band that will either make or break a night out. Sometimes it is pure genius, other times it is a dismal crash and burn. Wednesday night’s pre Australia Day was thankfully the former.
Duo King Of The North opened the night with a set deserving of a much later slot. Their sound bounces all over the rock ‘n’ roll map, bringing easy comparisons to early Grinspoon, Led Zeppelin and Soundgarden. Drummer Danny Leo provides a spine jarring background for vocalist Andrew Higgs’ lyrics, delivered with a wail that would make Chris Cornell blush. Punctuated with belting drum and guitar solos, King Of The North hold the attention of the small crowd flawlessly.
Beginning without a word, just the siren call of a loop pedal, Udays Tiger appear and put on a show that truly needs to be seen to be believed. Releasing their EP Sinners midway through 2011, the second two piece of the night play with a mind bending intensity that is impossible to ignore.
Bringing to mind far more than a fleeting comparison to Death From Above 1979, Udays Tiger are the real deal. Sharing vocals, Nathan Morris and a bleeding, solo-shoed Devin de Araujo, tear the crowd (who are so engrossed they stand in total silence for the first few songs) to shreds with shrieking guitars and ferocious drums. Interestingly, the quiet and calm way they speak to the audience between songs is totally at odds with the almost crazed intensity they play with. Leaving the confines of his drum kit to stand on stage next to speaker platform and hitting the cymbal while singing, Morris is promptly tackled into a wall but never misses a beat and keeps going. Dark, dirty and brooding, they are totally unmissable. Buy their album, sell your mother for tickets if you have to, just for the love of God do not miss them.
Just when it looks the bar has been set for band of the night, headliners and siblings The Morrisons thunder onto the well worn Pony stage. Pete Morrison commands the attention of the room, potentially the most characteristic front man since Pelle Almqvist complete with crazy eyes. He zooms around as if being chased by invisible bees and electrocuted at the same time and by the time the second song of theirs roll around he is shirtless.
Obviously the crowd like what they see as all of a sudden the floor is crammed with people. They play loud, tight and raw punk which is lapped up by the ever expanding crowd. They may also just be the most interesting local punk band you will see this year. The Morrisons are about as easy to ignore as a punch to the ear and they play with a skull-kicking energy. Think 70’s Iggy Pop fronting a punk skewed amalgamation of TV On The Radio, Le Tigre and Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
During “Trouble And Strife”, guitarist Nick Carver takes over on vocal duty while Pete straddles the drum kit and accidently kicks over his beer before throwing the now empty glass at the wall. Far by being punk by numbers, The Morrisons seem set for further greatness. In the words of a recuperating industry figure, do yourself a favour and catch them at their residency at the Tote during February (and push a hipster off a fixie.)
– Madison Thomas