TISM at the Prince | Via YouTube

TISM Review – TISM Are Wankers at Melbourne Secret Show

TISM – billed as Banjo Patterson-Lakes – played at the Prince Bandroom, St Kilda, on Saturday, 19th NovemberBrenton Harris reviews.

TISM returned to St Kilda’s Prince Bandroom on a Saturday afternoon, taking the capacity crowd on a musical trip that no one will soon forget. Playing just their second show in eighteen years (following a sneaky set at the Croxton one week prior), the anonymous weirdo-rock collective arrived on stage to a chorus of boos and chants of “TISM are wankers.” 

TISM – ‘Whatareya?’

The balaclava-wearing seven-piece admonished us with the alt-beat poetry of ‘The Art/Income Dialect’ before launching into a rendition of ‘I Drive A Truck’ that had the room singing with the fervour of football hooligans.

The sequence of ‘Whatareya’, ‘I’ll ‘Ave Ya’ and ‘Thunderbirds Are Coming Out’ inspired some audience members to have a go at crowd surfing, as TISM engaged in all manner of oddball performance art antics. 

It’s hard to imagine another act that could make male cheerleading, ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’-style placards, Aerobics Oz Style choreography and the disinfecting of paper plates an integral part of the show, but at a TISM show, it goes off. Vocalist Ron Hitler-Barassi dropped pearls of wit and wisdom between songs, with every line perfectly designed to connect to the next selection from the band’s iconic back catalogue. 

‘What Nationality Is Less Murray?’ felt particularly timely with the World Cup only days away, while ‘Everyone Else Has Had More Sex Than Me’ hit home with the (mostly) Gen-X crowd, who danced and sang with gusto. 

The familiar “ba-ba-ba-bas” of ‘Greg! The Stop Sign!!’ sent a nostalgic high through the entire crowd, turning the Prince into a delightfully off-key glee club. When the room came together to belt out the chorus, it felt like we’d all taken a trip back to TISM’s ’90s heyday. 

TISM – ‘Greg! The Stop Sign!!’

The transportive sensation continued for the rest of the show. ‘Martin Scorsese Is Really Quite A Jovial Fellow’ and ‘Death, Death, Death, Amway, Amway, Amway’ were warmly received, while absolute bedlam broke out during ‘(He’ll Never Be An) Ol’ Man River’. Controversial at the time of release, the alt-club anthem has lost none of its intoxicating power, blending riffs, electronica and hooky absurdity to bring the Prince crowd to absolute fever pitch. 

If the show ended there, we would have walked away satisfied, but TISM had one last blast of overstimulation in the form of the riotous ‘Defecate On My Face’. It was apt for the second TISM show in eighteen years to end with a packed-out pub singing themselves hoarse to a song written about a fascist’s alleged coprophilia and one last chant of “TISM are wankers”.

Further Reading

TISM: 10 Essential Tracks

“I Want As Many People to See Me Die On Stage As Possible” – A Chaotic Interview with TISM

TISM Played Their First Show In Nearly Two Decades Over the Weekend

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