h

Cosmic Psychos ripped through Estonian House with the quintessential Aussie punk rock show

The perpetually strong outfit left no prisoners at their Melbourne show.

Image source: 
Kane Hibberd

Cosmic Psychos are unlikely looking bearers of the epithet ‘rock legends’; three unassuming middle-aged Aussies, the kind you can see at any time of the day or night sitting in the smoking area of The Brunswick Club on Sydney Road, nursing a pint and exuding a faint air of dilapidation.
 
Seeing them strolling around the slowly filling confines of Brunswick’s Estonian House, having a drink and chatting with familiar faces, you definitely wouldn't picture them as being one of the more lauded influences on the Seattle grunge scene. You wouldn't have seen them tour the world either or release numerous albums of driving, deceptively simple punk rock since their inception in the early '80s. When they hit the stage, however, it all began to make sense.
 
Brunswick Music Festival is in full swing and the Psychos are the organisers’ nod to the elder statesmen of the Melbourne music scene, with their legacy writ large in the evening’s support acts. Unfortunately the pull of the nearby Brunswick skatepark and the need to polish off some bottle-o purchases before entering the venue means that we miss The Faculty, whose sound lies somewhere between the snottiness of the first wave of LA punk and the art school spikiness of Buzzcocks or Wire, as well as the no-frills punk rock of Rabid Dogs.
 
We make it inside in time for Melbourne scene mainstays Dumb Punts, whose sun-soaked, jangling garage – The Reatards on Ritalin – at first seems an anomaly on the bill. However this is testament to the Psychos’ wide-ranging impact and songs like ‘Goon Sack’, with its driving beat and anthemic chorus, makes this impact apparent. The crowd, while slightly dwarfed by the venue’s size, is clearly proud of the hometown band and more than one audience member is clearly familiar with every word.
 
As Cosmic Psychos hit the stage, the punters swell in numbers and booze-fuelled energy. By this point the time-honoured combination of sun, skateboarding and substance abuse has ruled out much in the way of dancing from yours truly, but down the front things are starting to get rowdy; breakdancing in the pit, narrowly averted fistfights morphing into boozy hugs, arcs of lager raining down on the crowd and the irresistible tang of regrettable life choices in the air.
 
The band, meanwhile, have kicked straight into gear with minimal fuss. Every song follows the tried and tested Psychos formula of pounding drum beat, mid-tempo chug and shout-a-long chorus, a distorted wall of sound which highlights just why the Melvins’ King Buzzo is such a fan and what they undoubtedly brought to the Seattle sound. The surprise seeing them live for the first time is the space left for guitarist John ‘Mad Macka’ McKeering’s soloing, which sees him channel an almost Hawkwind vibe in places; not very punk, maybe, but this is clearly not a band who cares what you think.
 
Guitar flourishes aside, however, it is a quintessentially Australian experience; with Ross Knight’s tales of pubs, tractors, schnitzels and beer evoking those myriad of small towns with strange names which dot the expanses between the country’s coastal cities. As such, it is only fitting that, when they leave the stage to applause and cries for more, they are accompanied by the melodies of ‘G’day, G’day’ by Kempsey’s finest son, Slim Dusty.
 
By Jono Coote