Supports – Sun God Replica, Cosmic Kahuna
Max Watts (The Hi-Fi if you’re an old cunt), Melbourne, VIC
A Fresnel rhomb is a prism designed in 1817 by Augustin-Jean Fresnel for converting linearly polarized light into circularly polarized light. It’s also the wrong way to spell Australia’s most fun, funny, drunk, cynical, socially conscious, lyrically forgetful, enduring, and entertaining punk band’s name. More about that in a bit.
Local openers Cosmic Kahuna are twice as un-psychedelic as their name doesn’t suggest. Their half an hour-ish slot was balls to the wall hard rock from pillar to post, and had the drizzle of punctual punters nodding their heads along approvingly. With the current resurgence of mouthy Aussie rock and punk in popular culture, it’ll be no shortner seeing these gents up and about on young and cool kids’ iPods soon (none of which would have come from this Frenzal gig, because everyone was pretty much 30-50 years old). Anyway, go get ‘em Cosmic Kahuna; your guitars are an exercise in aural blood-letting, Jack’s a fast as fuck drummer, and Doz shouts like there’s an on-fire cobra in his undies. Denim vests, long hair, and a good time were had by all.
Top spot supports Sun God Replica are doubtlessly talented and seasoned musicians. They blend classically trained, 70’s-inspired structural fiddling with huge splashes of something resembling the most attractive parts of Weezer, The Who, and Shihad. There’s a formidable guitar solo from front man Link McLennan (of Meanies fame) in every song, Lochie Cavigan makes the very tricky look effortless on drums, and Tim Pikcering’s bass work is about as groovy as Steve from The Porker’s afro-lady forearm tattoo (Steve and I took a boxing ring apart together at Williamstown town hall just before the gig. It’s a fucking great tattoo. Google it or, y’know, take a boxing ring apart with the guy if you can. He’s a gun). Unfortunately, most of the crowd seemed disenchanted about their slower BPM and decidedly un-punk approach. As a result, the gig felt a bit sluggish in the middle. Sun God Replica have all the brass and competency to rock out venues across the country, but on this occasion, a heaving room of sweaty, drunk, excited, nostalgia-driven punk rockers weren’t the right audience to shill their tunes to.
It’s really shitty that Frenzal Rhomb aren’t universally recognized as Australian musical royalty like Chisel, Mark ‘Jacko’ Jackson, Craig McLachlan, or Lorde (**Editor – dude, Lorde is kiwi!). They’ve been touring their dicks off for nearly a century now, despite the fact that Guitarist Lindsay ‘The Doctor’ McDougall detached his retina for a Halloween costume a few months back, front man Jay ‘I also used to host JJJ’ Whalley’s brain was hollowed out by a Mexican pig worm a few years back, drummer Gordy ‘#boozymidget’ Foreman broke his arm in to four-hundred-and-seven pieces while stagediving in 2015, and bassist Tom ‘Tom’ Crease is, well, a bassist in Frenzal Rhomb. They also probably say the word’s “Fuck”, “Cunt”, and “Russel Crowe’s band is a fucking pile of shit” too often for true success on commercial radio, but that’s anyone’s guess.
Tribulations and coprolalia aside, the veteran smart-arses started their Best Of tour in idiosyncratically flawless style (that’s to say, they fucked up a bit, but flawlessly). The first time I saw Frenzal was on Valentine’s day 2004 at a Freeza gig in Malvern town hall. Not much has changed since then for the band and their evidently loose fans, but in all the right ways. Sure, we’re all wrinklier, fatter, and that much closer to death, but the world is still ripe for parody/ satire/ discussion/ flat out insult, and Frenzal remain a shining beacon of dedication in those departments. Jay still doesn’t know all the words to some songs, but in his defence there is a lot of them. Lindsay is still a disarmingly brilliant guitarist, and the rhythm section of Tom and Gordy seem to play songs faster as each year passes. The boys joke constantly, and flat out bag the audience and each other with a level of self-deprecation only reserved for the closet of friends. Jay seemed dead-set that everyone there was a fucking idiot for still showing up to Frenzal gigs, and concluded that the best year of all our lives must have been about 1997.
At one point, Lindsay recalled travelling to Melbourne to play his first of a string of Frenzal shows circa 1996, only to be out done by Jay regaling everyone with a brief story of having to do heroin with The Powder Monkeys just to get a support slot back in the day. That, coupled with the fact Less Than Jake have a whole B-side song dedicated to Jay owing them money for going on an ecstasy-fuelled rampage and fucking up their tour bus, is more than ample evidence to show just how hard these dudes have rocked out for the past twenty-odd years.
The whole gig was presented as a top 25 of all their songs, decided by an admittedly rudimentary voting website the band had set up a few weeks prior to the tour. They played them 25th to 1st, with Frenzal doing the right thing and going with whatever the fans actually wanted. They openly admitted to having rarely-if-ever played some of the tracks, and how fucking hard it was to do so as a result. Exasperated but dedicated, Jay did have a couple of cheat sheets gaffed to the stage that he made no small secret of checking when lyrics escaped him (although in the case of I Miss My Lung, the boys left out three quarters of the song, said fuck it, and jumped straight in to Who’d Be A Cop). Other rare highlights included Methadone, Ship Of Beers, Not My Friend, and their timeless cover of The Home And Away theme song from debut album Dick Sandwich.
All-in-all, it was an off guts gig, full of all the laughs and flat-stick, tongue-in-cheek punk rock we’ve all come to expect over the last seventy million national tours. The crowd was particularly inebriated; moshing their tits off, slipping over, passing out, throwing shit in the air, and singing every word (even the few the band couldn’t remember). You’ll find the set list below, word-for-word. I’ll finish by appropriately saying fuck you if you don’t like Frenzal Rhomb, because they’re all good cunts who are still nailing it twenty years of giving their absolute all. Bring on the new album.
Photo Gallery by Todd Gingell
Living After Midnight (Judas Priest cover) (Partial)
When My Baby Smiles at Me I Go to Rehab
Let’s Drink a Beer
I Went Out With a Hippy & Now I Love Everyone Except for Her
Home and Away
I Miss My Lung
Who’d Be a Cop?
Mummy Doesn’t Know You’re a Nazi
We’re Going Out Tonight
World’s Fuckedest Cunt
Ship of Beers
You Are Not My Friend
Russell Crowe’s Band
You Can’t Move Into My House
My Pants Keep Falling Down
Mum Changed the Locks
Never Had So Much Fun
Punch in the Face
Photo Gallery – Click on image to enlarge & kickstart killer gallery (**Bands feel free to share)