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Missed Poison City Weekender? We’ve got you covered

Camp Cope and Cable Ties ruled.

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Image source: 
Ro Flack

For the ninth time, Poison City Weekender celebrated the incredible independent and DIY music community, and we had an absolute blast getting amongst it.
 
You’d be forgiven for feeling a bit dusty on the Monday after Weekender. It’s a rite of passage – much like the festival uniform of black jeans, Doc Martins and denim jackets.
 
Getting things underway at The Corner on Friday night was the glorious Hachiku. The artist has an ethereal subtlety to her songwriting, which was then fleshed out by a band of familiar Milk Records faces. US punk rockers Worriers were in fine form next, as were locals Loose Tooth who took to the side stage not long after.
 
Having caught Jeff Rosenstock the night before at his Gasometer headline show, I was excepting a ferocious and fun show. He didn’t disappoint, packing stacks of energy and a nice cross-section of his extensive discography into 40 minutes.
 
Camp Cope ensured that there wasn’t a dry eye in the house during their magical set. Emotions were laid bare both on stage and off, with elated members of the audience audibly embracing the band for everything that they are.
 
Weekender rolled on with a stacked lineup at another one of Melbourne’s favourite watering holes, The Evelyn. Melbourne’s unpredictable weather meant that festivities (this is punk Christmas, after all) shifted from the rooftop into the bandroom. Jade Imagine played one heck of a tight set, while Mere Women blew everyone away with their powerful and gritty punk. Front-person Amy Wilson’s vocals are cutting but melodic, above the driving and droning wall of sound.
 
It’s hard to describe the revelation that is Harmony, but ‘punk choir’ comes somewhat close. They cross guttural speech-song and scathing riffs with a harmonious choral trio. Description doesn’t even do them justice. You’ve got to see them in the flesh to understand.
 
The sheer ferocity of Cable Ties was breathtaking. It’s loud, it’s punchy and on that note: definitely a set you don't want to forget your earplugs for. Launching with The Producer – a track all about abuse of power in the music industry, Jenny McKechnie tied it into Weekender. “That song is about people who are the opposite of Andy and Thomo,” in a nod to the positive culture that Poison City and its community cultivate.
 
As the sun went down it was time to head on over to the next venue, Melbourne’s undisputed ‘home of rock’ The Tote. That said, there were plenty of genres on show.
 
The Pink Tiles delivered a very cool brand of surf-inspired, guitar-driven pop. Their brilliant track Time For Love showcased some excellent call and response vocals between the two frontwomen.
 
The top floor of The Tote was pretty packed once Bench Press took to the stage. They kept banter to a minimum as frontman Jack Stavrakis paced around the stage, sprawling from side to side snarling into the mic as their thrashingly melodic set stretched on. Not long after, Sydney outfit Grinding Eyes steered the evening into psych rock territory – taking punters on a winding, droning odyssey.
 
Screamfeeder gifted the audience with an exceptionally tight set. It wasn’t just technical mastery on show though – each track was essentially a masterclass in songwriting. Garage rock, but with one hell of a cut and polish.
 
Providing arguably one of the most entertaining sets of Weekender, Wet Lips got loose. Shredding through their brand of short and sharp feminist punk, they kept the crowd on their toes with a costume change and hilarious banter. In celebration of bassist Jenny McKechnie’s mums’ birthday, their was a crowd-wide Happy Birthday singalong before she was invited on stage for their last song.
 
For once Melbourne weather looked favourably on us all and the last day of Weekender was met with glorious sunshine. There aren’t too many things better than winding the day away in The Rev’s sun-drenched beer garden. In between sets staggered over the afternoon, you’d eavesdrop on conversations about how good the food is, or who’d be sourcing a Doctor’s certificate to snag a day off on Monday.
 
With poignant songwriting and a real understated beauty in her music Jen Buxton performed a very special acoustic set. She rejoiced in the community that Poison City has built and revealed that it’s been ten years since her very first Weekender. “And some of you were 18…”
 
All the way from Brisbane, Brief Habits brought their usual heart on the sleeve, bass-driven punk fare. It was a nice way to kick things up a notch on a Sunday afternoon. Safe Hands continued on this theme, brining frenetic energy to the front bar not too long after. The pace was high, and they laid it all out there.
 
You can tell that over the years Foley have really endeared themselves to the local scene. No one was afraid to sing (or screech) along and there were plenty of hands in the air. Delivering an incredibly fun set – stage invaders and all, they left the vibe absolutely elated.
 
As a songwriter and performer, Jess Locke is endearing and nonchalant. Her live set was built around many tracks from upcoming album Universe with provision for a few laughs. She gave stick to her bandmates on stage, and they gave it right back.
 
Much like Meredith Music Festival, there’s a welcome shortage of dickheads at Weekender. It’s a comfortable, open and joyous event which seems to go from strength to strength. It’s evident from the Weekender experience that Poison City really cares about their community. It’s a celebration of the scene, its strength and people. I’ll stick my finger in the air and drink to that.
 
Highlight: Grace of Wet Lips shouting out her bandmate Jenny’s mum. “Thanks for making this cunt, Prue.”
Lowlight: By the last day you’re a shell of a human. But in a good way.
Crowd Favourite: Foley’s raucous, life-affirming set.