The Rev’s 5th Birthday ft. The Bennies – Gig Review & Photo Gallery 22nd July @ Reverence Hotel, Melbourne VIC

Reverence 5th Birthday
The Reverence Hotel, VIC
22nd July, 2017
Featuring The Bennies, Rad Island, Bench Press, Mere Women, Baseball, Lincoln Le Ferve and The Insiders

On the hilt of Footscray Road – Melbourne’s gateway to the working class Western Suburbs – lies The Reverence; a stronghold of live music for that side of town, and one that’s quickly established itself as a proving ground and institution for hundreds of bands here and abroad over the last half decade. It’s a five-star live venue, with multiple stages and the old sound system from The Art House out back to deftly accommodate music of all genres. There’s pool, cheap tacos and booze, plenty of friendly, like-minded, heavily tattooed or stupid-haired punters, a framed H-Block 101 poster at place of pride on the wall, and it’s next to a train station. What more could you want?

Being a dyed-in-the-wool Western Bulldogs fan meant that watching them flog Gold Coast on Saturday down the road in The Railway Hotel bled over in to the six-band line up’s 7pm door time. Apologies to Rad Island and Bench Press for missing your sets. By all accounts they were pearlers, a fact easy to deduce from an already packed house soaking up the ripper atmosphere you guys had clearly established. We’ll catch you next time when Liam Picken isn’t kicking six goals up in Cairns like a man possessed. Go Dogs.

Mere Women had just started up, and were playing to a full and welcomely warm room of folks, which quickly made smokers and fashionably late punters forget the artic wind blowing of the Maribyrnong river outside. Their blend of shoegazey-grunge had folks transfixed, but isn’t the type of timbre to get a placed dancing. Still, folks clearly being engrossed by the 4-piece’s rhythmic maundering is a compliment all the same. A bunch of people knew the words to their last, more energetic few tunes too, which – matched with a Poison City records signing – is a tell-tale sign of a band on the grow.

Next up out in the slightly larger back bar were the spasmodic and wild Baseball. The quartet, fronted by Melbournian independent music journeyman Cameron Potts, erupted from the get go, before steering in a more even – if not still rather eclectic – pace throughout the set. Potts was a man possessed, and backed with the wailing falsetto of technically savvy drummer/ co-vocalist Monika Fikerle, commanded the stage from go-to-woah. Potts’ constant shredding of an electric violin was mixed loudly, which drowned out much of Ben Butcher’s usually swish guitar work. That small complaint aside, Baseball swing wildly around time signatures and convention song structures, without being lost in a sea of unapproachable technicality. Their tunes are engrossing or catchy at the best of times, and remain extremely interesting in parts not written for foot-tapping. Think like a mix of At The Drive In, The Blood Brothers, and some Modest Mouse B-Sides. A ripping and very cool show, indeed. May these guys not disband a second time any time soon.

Next up were the comparatively sonically subdued and emotive workings of Lincoln Le Ferve and The Insiders. Coming off like a quietly spoken sibling of The Gaslight Anthem, Linc and The Insiders had a huge turnout for their front bar set. The crowd knew every emotional, anthemic word, and hung on them spiritedly throughout the band’s extremely well delivered set. They’re destined for big things, these dudes. It’s not hard to see them as reliable supports for stadium-sized international emotive-rock band supports here in future. Fans of The Smith Street Band, or even post 2010 Against Me! Would find a lot to like here.

I first saw The Bennies at Soundwave about three or four years ago. The next time was while photographing them supporting Less Than Jake and Reel Big Fish’s co-headliner not so long after at The Prince Band Room in St. Kilda. Then some other place I know I did, but fail to remember, then a blustery mid-afternoon scorcher during Falls 2016, followed by one of the single most wondrous and magical gigs ever in the gypsy forest weed Mecca that is Nimbin, NSW (that gig itself was worthy of novelisation, but for another time). That wasn’t long before a 420 gig at The Evelyn Hotel earlier this year, where the band and its punters successfully broke the law and hot boxed the entire pub with pounds and pounds of wishful, pro-legalisation gunja. It was utterly an utterly spectacular gig you can read the review of elsewhere on this site.

Through all these viewings, it’s more than easy to see and hear that The Bennies have evidently found their calling in life as a hard-partying, world famous, pro-marijuana band that currently rest at the top of this reviewer’s pile as the funnest band you can see live today. They admit with reverence (pardon the pun) on stage multiple times throughout sets just how fun and wondrous their job is, and the vibe is uncontrollably infectious. They’ve done multiple world tours, and the natural and growing inclusion of DJ Snes Mega as a full-fledged band member has expanded their live sound exponentially as they have travelled. He’s a sublime inclusion to the now-quintet, rattling of heaps of freestyle scratching, reggae beats, pulsing electronic madness, and a fair swag of Nintendo samples throughout the gig. The boys were all chuffed to be back in a packed Melbournian house, especially at a place they’d cut their teeth at way back in 2012. It was a fitting homecoming after an unprecedented trip around the globe.

After a loose, barricade-free mosh saw frontman Anty’s MicroKorg and vox pedal set up hit the deck on stage twice, the dudes recovered well. No one really minded that Ant had to reset and plug some shit in through two half songs, as duelling guitarists Jules and Craig had his vocals seamlessly covered while he did so. It was a shame it happened again during the deliverance of a rollicking new song that was all about positive vibes and a “Big fuck you to all those cunts” that try to bring you down. Anyway, the joint never really lulled as a result, and the rest of the gig was an otherwise pearler.

Topped off with a flat out hard trance dance break in Party Machine, an open request for some decent cocaine, and a huge crowd participation/ The Angels tribute in classic favourite Knights Forever ensured the already heaving place hit fever pitch before the gig was through. I’ve never seen The Bennies put on anything short of a hugely fun, pro-inclusion, pro-choice, pro-positivity, and pro-party 5-star performances in the last five years, and The Reverence certainly hasn’t in its successful little lifetime either.

Happy birthday, Rev. Fuck developers, may your nights go on forever.

Gig Review and Photo Gallery by the legendary multi-tasker Todd Gingell

Photographer’s note: Apologies for the shit pictures, my camera lost the ability to correctly focus mid-gig. Many blazed punters felt the same way, I believe.