Gig Reviews

Wheatus, Nova And The Experience &Take Us To Vegas, The Hi-Fi, Brisbane – 23/09/2012

Ah the nineties, what a decade! A lot of great…no scratch that, a lot of awesome music came out of the nineties. Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, The Offspring: these are all fantastic bands that were spawned from this decade, bands that have forged a massive career with many classic albums over the years. But what about all those one-hit-wonder bands? There was certainly no shortage of them.

Bands like Aqua, Hanson and Everclear have all come out of nowhere this year to bring some nostalgia to Australia, and just when you thought there couldn’t be anymore, well, thanks to the organisers over at Fat As Butter we have been graced with a few extras. The Hi-fi bar on Sunday night was playing host to a band that without a doubt created one of the biggest pop hits of the noughties for teenagers everywhere. Their music was played throughout every school disco and radio station a little over ten years ago, and on this night Wheatus were there to take us all back to our childhoods and teens.

Supporting the band on the night were some Brissy locals Take Us To Vegas, who came on stage at 8.30pm to the tune of Bangarang. As soon as the boys hit the stage, a wall of some seriously heavy sound just smashed you straight in the chest. The five-piece band got off to a rocking start as the band worked very well together from the get-go. Frontman Ryan Goodall’s vocals sounded fantastic as he moved from singing to screaming and back again with ease. The synchronised foot stomps from the guitarists and great breakdowns offered much entertainment for the few fans that were there.

With an energetic ferocity, the band ripped through their set full of power riffs, guitar solos and songs such as Coming for You and Sloppy Drunk, with all the band members getting to have a crack at vocal duties at one point or another. Bringing their set to a close was a massive cover job with such songs as Kesha’s Tick Tock, Gaga’s Poker Face and Justin Timberlake’s Sexy Back. Though being odd choices for a punk rock band, they rocked them out and it was an awesome finish to a big set.

Next on the stage were the Newcastle indie group, Nova and the Experience. The four-piece kicked off their set with Dragonflies and Waterfalls before playing Funbox, a song about sex in a public place. Going through their set and playing songs about not playing quidditch, and about whales, the band proved to be quite…good, considering that they did come onto the stage with whiskers and Lego flat brim hats, which was a bit of a worry.

Quirky is an understatement as drummer Laurie Mahon jumped over the barrier onto the dance floor to try to get the crowd dancing some special whale dance. Unfortunately for him, no one joined in, but at least the band seemed to be having fun as they soon wrapped up their set.

As 10.30pm approached, the Hi-Fi was still quite empty, definitely the emptiest this reviewer has seen it; however, even at a quarter of the capacity, the excitement was still very prominent throughout the venue.

Finally, Wheatus took to the stage, led out by frontman Brendan B Brown, and the cheers were still pretty deafening. “We’re just gonna make some sound to see if it’s all good” were the first words from Brown, and the band broke straight into the outro of Teenage Dirtbag. Informing the crowd that they didn’t have a setlist, Brown continued to tell the crowd to just yell out what they wanted to hear and they’d play it. Starting with Truffles ’cause it’s fun’, the band got off to a great start. Asking the crowd what they wanted to hear next brought a shout-out for Leroy, so Leroy it was. Being the last night of the tour, Brown asked the crowd if it was okay to get a little drunk, and with a “f**k yeah” from the crowd, the bottle of Johnnie Walker came out and was soon shared around the stage.

With requests coming in for Teenage Dirtbag for the next hour, Brown explained that he thought that’s something the Venga Boys do, before instead launching into I’d Never Write a Song About You. As a request for Freak On came up, Brown explained that the song is a “motherf**ker” to play but thanked the punter for knowing it.

Introducing a couple of local additions to the band in a Sydney keys player and a backup singer, the band had another drink and some serious fun as they played BMX Bandits. Even with breaking a string mid-song, Brown showed his professionalism and continued to finish the song without any disturbance. With no guitar tech on board for the night, Brown proceeded to restring the semi-acoustic guitar himself whilst giving a lesson on how to do so. “Why don’t you play one of those jazzy bass numbers for the crowd whilst they wait”, Brown said to bassist Matthew Milligan, and with that he broke into some Seven Nation Army. As the rest of the band joined in, Brown sang along with his improvised lyrics on changing a guitar string. The next song also came in the form of a cover, this time of Weezer’s My Name Is Jonas.

Going from Pretty Girl to Love Is a Mutt from Hell, and even a bit of AC/DC, the band was having so much fun. “Being drunk and playing AC/DC for you people has always been a dream of mine”, says Brown. The second last song of the set as picked by Milligan was Fair Weather Friend, and all the band members got a little chance to solo during the song. The whole set had seen some great musicianship from the band and some fun energy from Brown as he jumped around, powering away on his guitar.

After countless requests all night, Brown finally told the crowd that it was time for Teenage Dirtbag, the song that became the band’s biggest hit and went to number one in Australia before anywhere else in the world. It was an absolutely surreal feeling as the band played the song that every teenager fell in love with twelve years ago, and you were hard-pressed to look around and find someone who didn’t have a massive smile on their face. Taking the time to thank everyone midway through the song, Brown then brought the house down with his amazing vocal range, bringing out the end of the song in true rock star style. As quickly as it had started, it had finished. Wheatus left the stage without an encore. The night was over, but what an amazing night it was.

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