Geddes Lane, Melbourne VIC
January 18th, 2019
Supports: Hanny J and Bakers Eddy
Us Melbournians flung ourselves about the upstairs of an old strip joint to the point of gleeful delirium amidst a balmy summer evening while really getting the most out of hometown mega champions The Bennies and their two top-notch supports, as they mustered far more sweat and excitement than this titty bar ever could have hoped to in its former life.
Opener Hanny J and her band bashed out some seriously well-structured and emotionally relatable, heart-filled punk tunes much to the initially sparse crowd’s eventual delight. Hanny commanded the stage like a consummate pro – clearly exacted from her time touring globally as bassist for the disturbingly underrated Clowns – and it’s hard not to draw musical comparisons with early Gaslight Anthem, and the roaring charisma and vocal range of Against Me’s frontwoman’s Laura Jane Grace while listening to her wail earnestly through ripping tune after tune. All-in-all, an extremely solid opener.
Mid-card punk rock upstarts Bakers Eddy ran amuck as they deftly lay waste to a very Green Day-flavoured 90’s pop/power punk set that totally caught the crowd by surprise and got the now crowded venue hugely amped for The Bennies to do their lawless, crazy shit for 90 minutes afterward. These guys are seriously talented, with every song they played a swift, raucous, hook-driven punch to the ears in the best way possible. Plus their frontman CJ Babbington is the right kind of half-mad to be an engrossing stage presence, and he looks heaps like Luke Pritchard from The Kooks to boot. It also doesn’t hurt having the drummer from Shihad in your band either. These dudes are going places for dead certain. Watch this space.
Full disclosure; your humble writer has reviewed, interviewed, and photographed The Bennies around 15-20 times. From Footscray to Nimbin (and many places between) over the last 6 or so years, these guys have perpetually reiterated themselves as Australia’s most fun, raucous, exciting, and easily best live band this country has produced for decades.
Their hometown homecoming to make the most of summer and trial some new tunes from an upcoming release couldn’t have gone any better. The catwalk jutting from the stage spent much of the set’s second half over-crowded with heavily intoxicated, moist, and elated punters bobbing and flailing like mad to all our favourite ska-stoner-punk-pop-metal-reggae band’s blindingly fun hits. The floor must’ve been built to host some seriously fat strippers and/ or high paying guts ache patrons, as it’s a wonder the entire thing didn’t collapse under the tonne of humans dancing while holding vocalist Anty and bassist Nick above their heads during a thunderous rendition of Beastie Boys’ ‘Sabotage’.
Beyond the regular Benny favourites and the psychedelic, MicroKorg-and-DJ SNES Mega-heavy journeys the band now relishes taking before, during, and after songs, the few new tunes belted out were a bit of an emotional, pensive departure for the band. Several gravitated to a sound something akin to Taking Back Sunday, and new single ‘Waiting For Dave’ has a big Area 7/ Mighty Mighty Bosstones vibe. If it didn’t reference drugs and say ‘fuck’ so much, it’s not hard to imagine it on prime time Triple M.
The customary encore included a sloshy cover of Blink 182’s Carousel that was spurred on by a promise the band made to each other while high on MDMA recently. The crowd fucking loved it, obviously, and not one stoned, drunk party-going, wily-haired punter went home unhappy after another consummate Bennies cavalcade. It’s also worth noting these guys exist as a seven or eight piece on the regular now. With the inclusion of a horn section and backing DJ SNES Mega on the decks, The Bennies present and execute as an elite, diverse, and bombastic musical unit.
Outstanding and glorious stuff as always, boys! See you at the next one.
Words by Todd Gingell
Photo Gallery by Sean Fabre-Simmonds. Insta: @gravy_havock
Please credit Wall of Sound and Sean Fabre-Simmonds if you use published photos.
The Bennies – 2019 Australian Tour
Friday January 25 – Rosemount, Perth
Saturday January 26 – Mojos, Fremantle
Sunday January 27 – Jive Bar, Adelaide