Melbourne scuzz-punkers Clowns have forged a reputation as a must-see live act. Having witnessed the carnage of their Bad Blood album launch on Friday night, I can confirm that the hype is more than justified.
Taking to the stage as the clock struck midnight, after a rocking set from tour buddies American Sharks, Clowns immediately took the eyes and ears of the sold out Bendigo Hotel hostage with a caustic rendition of Human Error. As vocalist Stevie swung from the lighting rig, the room beneath him became a mess of tangled limbs and spilled beer, creating the anarchic environment the band calls home.
As they powered through a helter-skelter set of their dishevelled hardcore material, Clowns took on the role of agents of chaos – directing an equal opportunity collective of stage divers, while sacrificing blood, sweat and literally the shirt off their backs for our entertainment.
There was a distinct scent of bad blood in the mosh as Stevie launched himself into the infected masses during riotous versions of These Veins, Euthanise Me, Figure It Out and old favourite Eat A Gun, somehow not missing a note as he crowd surfed to the back of the room and back again.
Energetic and enigmatic, he has that ‘can’t look away for a second’ presence that all frontmen covet. The same can be said of drummer Jake, bassist James and guitarist Joe whose contributions bring a sense of rawness and danger few bands can match.
Being a hometown show there was always a chance that Clowns would have something special in store and when Karina Utomo of High Tension fame jumped on stage to lend her blood-curdling screams to the bridge of Infected the pit came unglued in reverence.
With the room at fever pitch, Clowns thrashed through Rat before closing the set proper with partystarter Repeat After Me, which saw an improbable amount of grownups hanging from the ceiling and climbing over each others bodies to score a mic grab to scream the vocal refrain.
The crowd chanted, “we want more” and Clowns responded by playing a rare encore before departing the stage for good, taking pride of place behind the merch stand to high-five sweat drenched fans as they let out into the night with that Bad Blood running through their veins.