Saturday 30th April 2022
The Farmers Arms, Bathurst NSW
Supports: Terra Mortem and Whisperhead
WON’T SOMEBODY PLEEEASE THINK OF THE BOGANS!!!!!
Live music is finally back and we are all very slowly getting back the pit-fitness we squandered during the pandemic. I’m talking about the same fitness we had back before we all spent a couple of years camped out at home, doing zoom meetings in suit tops and pyjama bottoms, eating everything in sight whilst binge-watching every inch of available content that Netflix and the like had to offer. Back when the notion of a few drinks and a live band was something we all took for granted. Now live entertainment is quickly returning and it’s almost like we’re a bit spoiled for choice. Well, in the capital cities at least.
Out in regional Australia, the small towns and regional centres are also starting to gain a modicum of interest from musical acts and whenever a talented legend decides to venture out our way, the locals lap up every bit of it. Travel a few hours out of your Brisbane’s, Sydney’s and Melbourne’s and you’re staring down tours such as King Parrot: Regional Rampage, Amy Shark: See You Somewhere, The Red Hot Summer Tour, In Hearts Wake: Green is the New Black, as well as the emergence of international shows like the recent one-off Foo Fighters show in Geelong and the upcoming Kings of Leon gig in Mildura. The regional centres are now slowly becoming privy to a number of live performers plying their trade in various capacities. Whether it’s a performance put on at a winery, the local entertainment centre, a football stadium, a CWA Hall or the back room at a pub on the outskirts of town.
Take Bathurst NSW for example. This freezing cold town is fundamentally renowned as being ground zero of Bogan Christmas, aka The Bathurst 1000, the premier Supercars event that has hosted the likes of Craig Lowndes, the late great Peter Brock and the local legend himself, Grant Denyer. Bathurst has, for decades, been the Mecca for motorsports enthusiasts the world over, but tonight it plays host to a different breed of loud drunken animal. Tonight is the night of the METALHEAD!!!
We hit the Vale Road (aka the old Cobb & Co stage route) on the way out to Goulburn and right next to the train line we find The Farmers Arms Hotel. First opened in 1857, this single storey coaching inn is steeped in history going back to the days of the Bushranger. Rumour has it that there are still tunnels that burrow out from under the pub that were used as methods of escape if the local constabulary were on the hunt for alleged criminals and ne’er do wells.
Tonight the ne’er do wells are sporting Slayer battle jackets, long hair, Army boots and a solid amount of much needed warm clothing. This pub has long been a haven for those living on the fringes of society and as such, is a perfect venue for tonight’s celebrations.
Dubbo four piece Whisperhead kickstart proceedings and a few keen punters roll in from the warmth of the main bar and the outside fire-pit to suss the lads out. They have a great energy but the drums echoing off this tin shed drown out the rest of the lad’s performances. Don’t be afraid to turn it up to 11 fellas. No one is here for the peace and quiet.
Between sets, I roll back inside for a cheeky beer and there’s a line of Dimebag razorback guitar miniatures behind the bar. Covering a large amount of the walls real estate are posters of Whitesnake, Corrosion of Conformity and Black Label Society, plus there’s Route 66 and motorcycle memorabilia for days. It’s a cool old-school hard-rocking motorcycle-friendly pub with a fireplace near the bar and when I head outside it feels like I’m at one of those backyard parties I used to frequent as a youngster, minus the shiny goon-bag.
Local “Bludgeoned Slam Tyrants” Terra Mortem hit the stage after a recent touring stint in Queensland and it’s no longer safe for the normals. The best dressed people in the central west of NSW flood in en masse and the concrete flooring underfoot is starting to crack under the weight of excellence on show. There’s enough leather here to kickstart a BDSM party. Some have taken to hand painting their gear and one bloke is sporting a jacket that has “Psych Ward” smeared across it. It’s not a mock up, looks 100% the real deal and he might be ward-buddies with the bass player Gibbo. The guy doesn’t blink once and I deadset catch him talking to his bass guitar. I mention it to him later and he says “It’s disobedient. Sometimes it won’t do as it’s told”. The lads sound incredible and everyone is grooving hard. I even catch one legend break out some Michael Jackson dance moves and it doesn’t look out of place at all. With songs like ‘Cannibalistic Incestation’, ‘Smearing My Love’ and ‘March of the Buttholes’ these guys are bound for chart success. One of their songs goes for all of three seconds and the singer says “Don’t sleep on it”. One punter heckles “That’s my favourite song”. Huge laughs, no one was killed and everyone wants the show to never stop. Great showing fellas.
No strangers to freezing their bits off, Blue Mountains 3-piece Red Bee have made the 90-minute trek out to Bafferst with a slew of homegrown supporters and are firmly set to warm the joint up. Talking to singer/guitarist Daniel Silk before the show, he says that he loves it out this way. The band cut their teeth playing gigs in the central west. It’s a beautiful country and most of the venues haven’t had the character of the pub renovated out of it with upmarket additions and Sydney pricing. They storm the stage like they’ve been waiting a year to play and this tin shed heats up real quick.
Straight off the bat, Red Bee are inch perfect. Despite the lack of touring that’s taken place in the last couple of years, these guys are as tight as a fish’s freckle. It’s loud enough that no one notices the passing freight train and the guys sound clean as a whistle. Bass player Jim Silk is a freak on the five string and even a handful of musicians in the crowd are asking how the f*ck he actually does it. They roll off favourites ‘Dead Inside’, ‘Killing Time’ and ‘Chasing Shadows’ before rolling out a couple of new bangers, including one that’s so fresh that Dan scats the second verse because he hasn’t come up with the lyrics yet.
Drummer Ian Dunn is so good, he looks like he’s been playing these new songs for years. The mid-section of brand spanker ‘Gutter Christ’ has this energy building tempo shift that sends the 100 odd people jammed up in this open shed into a frenzy. The atmosphere is so intimate that it’s like we’re at a friend’s place and we’re listening to our mates perform in the back shed. Between songs Dan shouts, “Venues like this should exist everywhere. We could be playing a backyard party somewhere.” If the crowd had their way, the band wouldn’t be allowed to leave but the guys play ‘Melody to the Apocalypse’ as the encore and a brilliant night is ended perfectly.
The night is a huge success and to see this calibre of live acts in my hometown just makes it all that much sweeter. Most importantly tonight though is that live entertainment is returning to regional Australia and is being fully embraced again by the locals. Whether it’s a huge touring stage set up in an exquisitely sophisticated Entertainment Centre or a rustic shed out the back of an old country pub near the train crossing, live music is back and the punters are keen for more. See ya’s at the next show.
Review/Story by Duane James @duanejames666
Photo Gallery by Sam Bolt
(in order of appearance) Whisperhead, Terra Mortem and Red Bee
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