A cascade of punks and metal heads descended onto Moore Park as next door Bon Jovi was living on a prayer, here’s hoping his fans didn’t run intoGwar fans afterwards.
The first annual No Sleep Til festival had an exciting bill headlined by Megadeth performing their album Rust In Peace in its entirety and icons Descendents making their first trip to Australia in 32 years. The clouds did not deter as the all ages crowd filed through the gates of the entertainment quarter.
First up were Melbourne outfit House Vs Hurricane. A mix of modern hardcore punk in a similar vein of old Alexisonfire. They managed to get the kids flailing their arms around and a small circle pit as the band put a 110% energy into a short rapid fire set.
Sydney’s pop punkers Heroes For Hire opened the Red Stage complete will fat chick blow up sex dolls and tore through their set so quickly they had ten minutes to spare, so, they threw in a cover of Josie by Blink 182. It’s great to see pop punk being played without it sounding like a commercial sell out. There was melody, syncopated jumps, catchy songs and five guys sweating their arse off on stage to entertain.
The greatest cover band in the world in Me First And The Gimme Gimmes were always going to be a treat. Renown for playing drunk, the 3pm time slot meant they were playing hungover instead. Mike, suffering the most, left mid set to be replaced by NOFX’s guitarist, Eric Melvin. Playing tracks across all genres and all albums to date including a couple off the soon to be released EP Going Down Under.
According to Mike, AC/DC were an okay band, INXS however, were the “worst Australian band”. Spike, looking like “Lesbian Hitler”, graced the stage with cool and swagger telling the band on numerous occasions that the crowd want to hear show tunes. A good fun singalong.
For the third time in 6 months I got to catch Frenzal Rhomb play. Each time they have improved live after a long break from consistent touring. Today they tore the roof of the tin can that was the Red stage. A typical festival set of classic Frenzal tunes (Never Had So Much Fun, Cones, Punch In The Face and Genius) to inspire crowd surfing and moshing and included a new song, even though it was crap! Frenzal Rhomb prove (like many other bands today) that being a old punk rocker does not mean you slow down any more than all the kids in the crowd today.
Boston’s Dropkick Murphys took to the stage with a massive Celtic backdrop and bagpipes before launching into their Irish/middle class inspired punk rock. Having such a huge reputation live, I was let down by the muddled sound from the PA during the early part of their set. Things settled down once they played more recognised tracks like Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya!, The Worker’s Song and Fields Of Athenry but I was disappointed in their performance as a whole and skipped out to watch Alkaline Trio on the outdoor Green stage.
The afternoon sun beating down on the small crowd didn’t seem fitting for Alkaline Trio. But as long as they did a better job than when I saw them at Soundwave a few years back, I’d be happy and they didn’t fail. Skiba was in a good mood and interacting with the audience as the band played mostly older material with only the title track of This Addiction getting a run in the set. Closing with Radio, Alkaline Trio really stepped it up and got the crowd pumped up for the night ahead. At this point, I decided to skip seeing NOFX to get up the front row for what will I believed to once in a lifetime opportunity.
As a teenager, I loved Gwar. Yes, they look silly, the lyrics at times are juvenile and just plain sick but you have to admire the fact they put on a show. While Megadeth would just stand there and play, Gwar come out and kill Hugh Jackman and spray the crowd in blood. They also killed a cop who tried to shut the show down and fought with Sawbo Destructo and fed some kid to the dinosaur Gor Gor. Oderus infected us with blood out of his diseased penis and there was also plenty of slime and pus. No one in the crowd, including security were safe and everyone left splattered in red and green dye. Musically, the band were tight. It has to be difficult to perform in those costumes, but they didn’t miss a note. Tracks mostly from the new record Bloody Pit Of Horror and 2009’s Lust In Space but old gems like Vlad The Impaler and Sick Of You were the best tracks of the set. Bloody awesome.
Soaked in the filth of Gwar, The Descendents hit the stage for the first time in Australia and showed us all why we still lover them 32 years on. Tearing through over 20 songs in a hour including a encore of Bikeage and Kabuki Girl, the band never skipped a beat. Milo led the band through their classic pop punk anthems including Hope, I’m The One and Silly Girl. The sides of the stage were littered with bands watching these legends perform a gig which will no doubt go down as one of the best sets all year. Again, another band in their late forties, showing kids how punk rock is done. You don’t need to scream, you don’t need sleeve tattoos and lip rings, black fringes or skinny jeans. Just some heart and passion and good songs and you will get loyal, long lasting, uncritical fan base.
Having been so impressed with the last three acts, I didn’t bother to catch the end of Megadeth. For me, it was fitting to have The Descendents end the day, seeing as I believed I would never see them play. No Sleep Til was a great festival and despite the mid strength drink options, was organised well and ran smoothly. A good leader into what has become the event of the year…February’s Soundwave.