The Croxton, Melbourne VIC
January 3rd 2018
Formed in early 2010, The Vaccines were enormously hyped by mainstream British media once a demo of ‘If You Wanna’ was circulated online. Indecently exciting, their crackling, accented, indie-tastic thrash fast bought comparisons to acts such as The Beach Boys, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Ramones and the Arctic Monkeys. Declared ‘game changers’ at a time when British rock was lacking genuine talent, it was The Vaccines’ catchy, concise surf punk noise which filled this void, while gaining support from fellow musicians such as Mumford and Sons, Franz Ferdinand, The Maccabees, Kaiser Chiefs and White Lies.
Fast-forward nine years and recently rejuvenated by the arrival of two new band members, The Vaccines returned to Melbourne to deliver their delightful ear candy with renewed purpose and wicked attitude.
Opening the night, Newcastle quartet VACATIONS dazzled those early with their unique blend of baroque-rock shoe-gaze. Their multi-layered melodies were infectious, dreamy and mixed brilliantly with airy tender. Moving a mile a minute, their creaking bass and jazzy guitars ensured that strong lazy Sunday afternoon vibes were felt throughout each tune. It may still be early days, but I am certain this is just the beginning of what will be a long career.
After a brief intermission, the headlining fivesome swaggered on to The Croxton’s stage, prepped with a set which relied on material from all their previous records.
Hedonistic new release ‘Your Love is My Favourite Band’ opened the show, before leading into timeless tune ‘Teenage Icon’. From the get-go, loveably raunchy frontman Justin Young’s testosterone fuelled onstage persona was refreshing, even if gloriously sassy and light on banter. Sounding more sophisticated and confessional than ever before, Young’s Dylan and Waits-esque wafty croons and purrs effortlessly electrified.
Complemented by infectious guitar riffs, jumpy basslines and synth-saturation, fan favourites ‘Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra)’, ‘Noorgard’ and future setlist staple ‘All My Friends are Falling in Love’ are played at their exhilaratingly best, while hip-swinging ‘Dream Lover’ is as mesmerising as it’s deliciously fresh.
What was most exciting was the jeering grooves, thundering guitars and characteristically wry lyrics of ‘Post Break-Up Sex’, ‘If You Wanna’ and ‘I Can’t Quit’ – some of which are unlike anything you’d hear from any other band.
Easily fitting the vacuum of great current British bands, the true talent of this well-rounded Britpop explosion lies in their creation of songs replete with charming and melodic angst, shrouded in guilt-ridden and relatable bravado. Wildly unhinged, gloriously silly and unexpectedly emotional, it’s fair to claim that The Vaccines are one of the genre’s best.
Absolute mad men with a worrying air of unbridled confidence, but still easily one of the best.
Gig Review by Jimmy Russell @jamco17