Party In The Paddock. Ricky Ponting. Cascade beers. The humble Apple Isle has gifted us …
WEST THEBARTON with Pist Idiots
Rad Bar, Wollongong
Thursday 7th June, 2018
West Thebarton’s debut album, Different Beings Being Different, is a goddamn trip. From the anthemic Moving Out and thrash-happy Basics to the bright and soaring Set It Straight, the Adelaidian pub-punk pit lords come tearing through the gates with 30 straight minutes of unabashed and unashamed punk rock as fierce as it is authentic. And so it’s fitting they’ve chosen to kick its launch tour off at the Rad Bar: an instantly iconic bastion of everything punk, its two-storey layout recalling sweaty underground house shows and its graffitied walls a nod to the dive bar golden age of the ‘90s. Leaving a gig here with a dry shirt and smelling of anything other than shit-tier weed is rare, and honestly, we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Before the seven-piece headline act could get the mosh machine pumping, though, it was up to the Sydney ledgebots in Pist Idiots to prove their worth. Alas, it took mere seconds into their set for shit to well and truly hit the fan, a crowd packed tighter than a Friday arvo cone bursting at the seams with ardour as frontman Jack Sniff ripped a callous battlecry into the mic. Though impossibly strong and not a beat off-key, his vocals were distinctly rugged. It was the voice of a man who poured his heart and soul so unrelentingly into every song that his throat just couldn’t keep up, and met with extra scuzzy guitars that punched through the mix like Party Marty (a local legend) through a cold VB, it was a voice we couldn’t get enough of.
But then came the fucking fire. In a proper venue, West Thebarton are as loose as they come–stage dives, push-pits and involuntary games of Chicken are all to be indulged in ravenous excess, a barrier between us and the band only fuelling more of an impetus to lay our elbows into each other’s faces. But put them on an ultra-cramped floor show where frontman Ray Dalfsen often finds himself standing on top of the drum kit to establish some minor semblance of personal space, and West Thebarton’s tried and true chaos only amplifies–as proved by their hourlong headline set tonight.
From the moment they launched into the rollicking Anatomy, all seven members were thrashing with fiery exhilaration. And despite their complete lack of physical composure, the septet were unfathomably tight with instruments in hand. Even fending off the hordes of drunken maniacs, Dalfsen never cracked a bum note behind the mic, his feverish riffage equally impassioned. With three additional guitarists on deck–Tom Gordon, Josh Battersby and Josh Healey–it would’ve been excusable if the mix wound up too muddy; surprisingly enough, it never did. The four shredders were all distinct in their fretwork and found their own moments to shine, and though Nick Horvat’s sludgy bass was often buried in the fold, even he found room to bust some inhumanly delicious licks.
Stealing the whole goddamn show, though, was the two-member powerhouse of percussion: Caitlin Thomas and Brian Bolado. Their standout moments came when the pair worked in tandem, Thomas commanding a standard kit while Bolado bashed away on some rack toms and a cymbal. When he wasn’t by Thomas’ side, Bolado made waves surfing the crowd armed with maraccas and a tambourine. Tonight also marked Thomas’ first show in Wollongong with West Thebarton, and with every numbing kick and shattering snare triggered, she crushed it harder and harder.
Of course, it’s hard not to crush a setlist pillared on cuts from Different Beings Being Different. The record is stacked high with anthems all designed to spur a party, and with slower jams especially sparse, there was little opportunity for showgoers to rest their feet. It was impossible not to chant along with every crash-hot chorus and jovial slacker quip that rolled by, too–even when we didn’t quite know the actual lyrics. Straight up, it was almost stunning how many mic grabs saw punters belt purely indecipherable gibberish. Nobody gave that much of a shit, though, because we were all too busy losing our minds in elation … Which is all that really matters in the end, right?
The highlight of the set came towards the back end with the slightly more lowkey Set It Straight, the album version’s arena-worthy grandeur translating to the small stage with goosebump-inducing dynamism. However, we could have done without seeing (or smelling) the munted bloke spend the entire duration of the number setting his nipple on fire… Yes, really.
We left the Rad Bar drenched in sweat and the stench of shit-tier weed, which, of course, can only mean we had the night of our fucking lives. It’s official: West Thebarton and Wollongong are a match made in punk rock heaven–don’t mind us counting down the days ’til their next collaboration.
West Thebarton are currently on their Different Beings Being Different tour across Australia. Catch them at the remaining dates:
Saturday June 9th – Cambridge Warehouse, Newcastle (with Blue Velvet)
Sunday June 10th – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne (with Self Talk)
Friday June 22nd – Badlands Bar, Perth (with Last Lions)
Saturday June 23rd – Mojos, Fremantle (with Flowermouth)
Friday June 29th – The Zoo, Brisbane (with Deluso)
Saturday June 30th – The Gov, Adelaide (with Stork and Wing Defence)