Forget freezing your balls off in Sydney’s winter. It’s not worth it. Not while Sydney trio The Vanns are thumping and riffing to their hearts content in Marrickville’s Factory Theatre. It feels a little in vein though. Many aren’t moving much to music that grabs you by the ears and practically nods your head for you.
The swaggering rock ‘n’ rolling prowess of this trio is a truly impressive start to tonight. Tinged with a slight blues and psychedelic lean, songs such as Keep My Cool and the chugging Newtown-inspired track Belmore Street really strike firm with tight musicianship. After chucking a new song into the mix, they choose to close with the manic cyclone that is I’m Not The One, kicking up the dust around our feet with torrential fret-work, rasping, scat-like vocals and chaotic drumming. A stellar set to say the least from these longhaired locals.
The free space in this room is decreasing, the rate of which speeds up when noisy punk rock South Australians Grenadiers take to the stage and begin to press all bodies together. The bi-polar vocals within their sound are infectious. Set opener Summer is a prime example of lead singer Jesse’s petulant yelling, later contrasting with a more melodic tone. Songs such as Factotum and Stay Inside ring true but nothing compares to the between song commentary. Highlights include challenging the audience to “take a few steps forward. What are you afraid of a fucking ginger?”, describing the Shihad boys as “good examples of how rock can stunt your growth” and dedicating their latest single Live Fast Diabetes to “Mike Baird, for saving all of those puppies. He’s still a cunt but at least that one’s positive”.
For all of the punkish attitudes from these relatively young bands, many here tonight have come set solely for a trip down memory lane. New Zealand legends Shihad have been on the road for a while now, but you couldn’t tell it from tonight’s performance. The crazed looks on leader Jon Toogood’s face and his impassioned, bouncing strums whips up their most dedicated followers into frenzy. Strong sing-alongs and jumping to the point of the floor shuddering were the extreme reactions, with the more touching coming from moments when, say, the guy standing next to this reviewer turns to his best friend and hi-5’s him, both grinning from ear to ear.
We’re treated to a set list scaling the entirety Shihad’s career, including the early gems such as Your Head Is A Rock from their early self-titled record, The General Electric from 1999, and of course early 2000’s hit Pacifier right up to the shredding bangers of The Living Dead and Cheap As from their most recent release FVEY.
“There’s nothing like real guitars on stage right?” Jon claims to rapturous cheers. For many here tonight, Shihad and their unruly supports have illustrated that real rock n roll is certainly not dead.
Gallery: Shihad – Factory Theatre, Sydney 15.07.16 / Photos: Joelle Miller