Are At The Drive-In dad rock now…? Have we actually reached that point? Between now and the last time they toured Australia in 2001, so many of their fans could be dads by now, and judging from the amount of beards flecked with grey and receding hairlines in the crowd, it definitely looks like it. As someone born at the tail end of the 80’s, it feels like the time for nostalgia has come – and I’m in a room overflowing with it.
Even the lead guitarist from opening act, Bad//Dreems has the quintessential dad look downpat. Repping a sweet beard and beer gut, you just wanna tell him all your problems.
In fact, the whole band exudes a country dad vibe, kind of like seeing your friend’s dad play at the local pub.
It’s good, but.
Frontman Ben Marwe is like an amalgam of so many Australian rock frontmen, but most closely he resembles Brendan Suppression from Eddy Current Suppression Ring. Pacing and lurching onstage in the midst of dirty riffs and the occasional wailing guitar, only stopping to get an update on the footy scores.
As soon as At The Drive-in get onstage, everyone in the crowd stops looking like a dad and starts feeling like a teenager again. It’s rare to see crowds at The Forum react with such youthful exuberance, and it’s a treat. Limbs are flailing, sweat is shining off of bald heads – suddenly this music feels as vital and exciting as it did 15 or 20 years ago.
Opening with Arcaresnel from what I guess is a classic by now, Relationship of Command, Cedric Bixler immediately takes control of the stage with microphone swinging and moves aplenty. He’s so hyped up it only takes til the end of the opening song for him to jump into the crowd.
By the time they reach the obligatory One Arm Scissor, the final song of the night, we’ve all re-experienced our youth just a little bit. The Forum sings in unison, “send transmission from the one armed scissor!” as we remember how much this meant to us and how much it still can.
Sure, it would have been nice to have Jim Ward with the band, and at times it does feel a bit like The Mars Volta doing At The Drive-In’s greatest hits, but for the most part the glazed look of nostalgia in the crowds’ eyes, and the energy of Omar Rodríguez on lead guitar – along with the passion of the rest of the band – made the past feel alive for just one night.
Gallery: At The Drive In, Bad//Dreems – The Forum, Melbourne 2016 / Photos By Kylie Carns