Spiderbait + The Meanies + Screamfeeder // Enmore Theatre // 18/03/17

“Mighty” is a word that comes to mind when attempting to describe Brisbane stalwarts Screamfeeder. For something like 20 years now, the band have put the emphasis on “power” in both power trio and power-pop. They get their hooks in early and they don’t budge for the entire time they’re on stage – and even in the waking moments after they’ve finished for good measure. Truly, when one talks of Screamfeeder one talks of one of the most underrated bands this country has ever produced. In a just world, these merchants of garage-dwelling indie exuberance would be receiving Enmore-sized elation entirely on their own merit. For now, however, it’s just great to see them charging purposefully through both some beloved classics and hugely-promising new material.

The Meanies, meanwhile, are fish out of water – a pub-friendly punk band in the surrounds of one of the oldest theatres in the whole country. Still, the Melbourne band have been outsiders their entire lives. Fearless frontman Link Meanie makes like the proverbial fish and splashes about the place as if his life depended on it – and although he’s not bleeding profusely or stagediving onto some unsuspecting punters, he’s still injecting the room with as much punk energy as he’s able to muster. To his left, Wally Meanie thunders through buzzsaw bass-lines and cracks wise in-between songs, refusing to let the spectacle of their surroundings change the fact that – at the end of the day – it’s still a bloody Meanies gig.

By 1996, Spiderbait were well on their way to becoming the most sought-after rock band on the Australian circuit. The album that got them there was their third, Ivy and the Big Apples. 2017 marks its 21st birthday – and, true to their rural upbringing, Ivy has decided to have a night on the town for her 21st with 2000 of her closest mates. The album’s singles set the dancefloor alight – Hottest 100 winner “Buy Me a Pony,” the double-sided pop joy of “Calypso” and the mane-thrashing sugar rush of “Hot Water & Milk.” The album’s deeper cuts, meanwhile, complement the hits on behalf of the more dedicated fans – “Joyce’s Hut,” for instance, features a scarce rarity of guitarist Damien “Whitt” Whitty performing lead vocals; while instrumental “When Fusion Ruled the Earth” has bassist/vocalist Janet English switching over to guitar to further layer Whitt’s thick fuzz.

A victory lap arrives upon the album’s completion: “Old Man Sam,” “Fucken Awesome” and, yes, “Black Betty,” which sends the party to the next level thanks to their extensive jamming, along with drummer/vocalist Mark “Kram” Maher’s expert call-and-response. Tonight may have been such a 90s bill that one was half-expecting Dylan Llewis to host the thing, but there’s a lot to be said for how vital all three of these bands still sound and how greatly they deliver in the live setting after all these years. To borrow from their lyrical arsenal, Spiderbait are a big-time entity with their place in history.

– David James Young

Featured image – Peter Dovgan