The effortlessly cool Rad Island proved to be contender for Melbourne’s tightest band when they took over the Reverence

Ballarat’s The Second Sex is a four-piece riot grrrl band whose bark is far worse than it’s bite. If Neighbours or Home and Away were to have a character that joined a punk band, it’d be like The Second Sex. Vocalist Zarah slid effortlessly between Linda Perry-style wails and straight up hardcore screams but her pacing the stage and writhing around on the floor was contrived and over-dramatic. Their snappy 20-minute set includes a cover of The Empty by Le Tigre and concluded as abruptly as it began.
It became apparent that the lineup was a mixed bill when Crusch took the stage. After the ferocity of The Second Sex, Crusch’s passionate emo wa a welcome relief. Their sound is reminiscent of Sunny Day Real Estate, Motor Ace or early Something for Kate and should really smack you in the feels, but the more dynamic parts of the set didn’t quite get there.
Singer Ben Searle informed fans he’d had 12 performances in a row in the Melbourne International Comedy Festival so it’s safe to assume he was exhausted and that unfortunately came across. He did a lot of talking in fact; repeatedly reminding us he forgot to bring their merch and awkwardly picking on the drummer Dan.
After a noisy shambles of a sound check, the recently reformed Ships Piano picked the energy levels back up again. As a result of their extended hiatus, their set was a mix of very old songs and brand new ones that indicated their sound hasn’t changed much, seemingly stuck somewhere circa 2012. It was loose jangly rock a la Les Savy Fav or The Black Lips but without the fun, party aspect that made those bands great. That being said, they did hold a captive audience who couldn’t help but move their hips.
Effortlessly cool, dressed all in black, Rad Island could well be Melbourne’s tightest band. The drums were lightning fast, the bass was deep as a well and the guitar cut like a knife through a pumpkin. We were in tone city.
And damn was singer/bassist Luke Fraser charismatic. Rad Island played a unique style of “posi” (not to be confused with “pop”) punk. It was spazzy like The Mint Chicks but with uplifting vocal singalong hooks. Midway through the set, when the crowd was nice and warmed up, the guys dropped their latest single We All Get High, stopping halfway through to unleash a barrage of streamers, poppers and party whistles.
Rounding out the set with tracks You Got Game and Valium from their first EP, the whole hot and sweaty room was dancing and elated, which was exactly what Rad Island set out to achieve.
Words by James Matthew
Image by Shaina Glenny
Highlight: The party poppers, whistles and streamers.
Lowlight: Ships Piano’s mates doing lines off the mantle piece.
Crowd Favourite: We All Get High by Rad Island.