For any small time label to get past release one is a feat in itself but when you have 100 releases under your belt and a shitload to follow, that’s commendable. Melbourne label Off The Hip Records has done just that. They have stuck with their product, stood by it through thick and thin, rejected digital downloads, and come out on top. Today, brothers and label owners Mick and Chris Baty couldn’t be happier. Not only do they run Melbourne’s finest independent record store, but they have also put on an incredible showcase of bands from the label all for a measly $15 complete with a bonus free CD for the first 50 payers through the door (I scored the 2006 release by The Dolly Rocker Movement, “Electric Sunshine”… just sayin’).
The day kicked off with label newcomers, The Living Eyes. A young bunch who are following in the footsteps of those other young lads from the label, The Frowning Clouds. It’s unfortunate for them as that is who their comparisons will be, what with their age and their style of music. The only thing missing, really, is the capes but there’s still time. It’s tough for any band to go on so early and to any rock n roller, 1:30 in the afternoon is early and with the doors only being opened for 15 minutes, The Living Eyes still bashed it out including a decent version of the covered-far-too-much, ‘Milk Cow Blues’. They’re still in the early stages but I give them a year and they should be really cookin’ with gas.
Mass Cult Suicide followed on and were a band I had never seen before. This trio played a bunch of lo-fi punk garage rock with the cute Yolanda (of Dollsquad fame) shredding on guitar. Not a bad effort at all even though the band did seem tired… or maybe they were a bit put off by the small crowd who chose to stand towards the back of the room… the usual standard of behaviour for punters who have arrived early to shows and are not yet filled with alcohol. Ha!
Tasmania’s Sole Stickers came on next and plowed through their new album from top to bottom. A great way to advertise your album that was just released on Friday. These guys were good. Nice and simple songs of garage power pop. Unfortunately for me, I haven’t heard the album so it was hard to appreciate the band at its full potential as I didn’t know the songs. Next time though, I should be well schooled and ready to rock as I believe this album was sent to be reviewed. Heaps good.
Melbourne duo Wrong Turn were up next and their noisy retro two-piece feed of grungey blues was just the thing the people needed to begin closing the gap between the mixing desk and the stage. I don’t mind Wrong Turn at all. They seem to get better and better with each show that I see. Sometimes I feel they need a bass player but then I see shows like this and realise they don’t cos it works without one. Good stuff.
Long time running power pop band, The Little Murders, came on next and got the crowd movin’ and boppin’ playing tracks from their ‘Stop Plus Singles’ CD released last year on OTH including my fave tune of theirs; ‘Things Will Be Different’. Good Sunday afternoon music.
The Cheats were up next and it was back to crazy garage rock as they powered through their stuff and unfortunately, the BBQ had started by this time and I was busy stuffing my face with food so I missed most of their set but I did hear it and that’s cool. Yep. Awesome.
The Russian Roulettes followed and these cats were wild. They are such high energy and having just returned from Europe where they shared the stage with the likes of KISS and Bob Dylan, the Roulettes show no signs of slowing down any time soon. No sirree, playing the same show as KISS was just the beginning and this gig was another ball-tearin’ taster of what’s to follow. This band’s gonna rock ya. Nice one!
Midnight Woolf took to the stage next and were as crazy as ever. Throwing their instruments around and rolling all over the floor, it was a mess of rock n roll antics and I was loving it. I saw these guys on Friday and thought they were great but tonight they were better still. The crowd were definitely movin’ and groovin’ now and the place was rockin’ and rollin’. I was diggin’ it. I still miss the female drummer though, she was cute.
The night continued with awesomeness as Johnny Casino & The Secrets played another mindblowing set kicking off with ‘Cowboys and Indians’ and finishing with an incredible version of the MC5′s ‘Black To Comm’. This finale was unexpected and completely brilliant. I have seen Johnny Casino numerous times and each gig just gets better and better. If you’re yet to experience this rock n roll outlaw, you need to rectify that, STAT! Tonight’s show, I was blown away and so were the rest of the people in attendance. Johnny had the audience in the palm of his hand and the place was jumpin’. Wow.
Before the almighty Spainiards hit the stage, local Spencer P Jones (Johnnys, Beasts Of Bourbon) took to the stage for a few solo numbers with the guys from Los Chicos gladly providing the backing. The guy’s a Melbourne institution and the crowd happily enjoyed this inpromtu set (SPJ was not scheduled to play but ended up on stage anyway). Classic!
The night’s much anticipated performance from Spain’s Los Chicos was met with an ecstatic crowd who were ready to party and Los Chicos were kind enough to not let them down. In fact, the band really outdid themselves this time. From engaging the crowd into a gospel of rock n roll dancing to special guest stars tearing up the stage with them to the Chicos finishing off their set with a heartfelt yet messy yet ass-kicking version of GOD’s “My Pal”; a song so special to not only Melbourne rock n roll fans but also to punters of The Tote and tonight, special guitar duties were provided by none other than John Nolan of Powder Monkeys fame. It wasn’t perfect by any means but it was more rock n roll than most. The place erupted into more smiles, cheers and emotions than ever thought possible by the human form. It was the perfect ending to a 13 date tour for the Spanish crazies as they wind down and head home tomorrow. I tell ya, I for one will be sad to see them go. They are without a doubt one of the hottest bands I have seen this year. But you know what? The night was still not over. There was one band to go. But seriously, how could any band top this performance? The truth being that you couldn’t. I don’t make the rules, it was what it was; fucking awesome!
Buried Horses followed and brought the long day to a close. They gave it their best but truth be told, this was Los Chicos night. Thanks for coming.
After 10 hours of rock, I was exhausted. I said my goodbyes and whatnot and it was time to go. Today was sweet. Thanks to Chris and Mickster for putting this on. An excellent show indeed. I look forward to the next BBQ and here’s to release 200!