Regurgitator @ The Hi-Fi
Yup, if this gig was a person, I would be hugging it so tight right now its eyes would be comically bulging out of it’s head. Particularly Atom, the fiery dynamo drummer from opening band Hedgehog, but no one will be spared from some overzealous hugging. Hedgehog, hailing from Beijing, condense the best parts of ‘90s college rock sounds into a rambunctious package of thudding drums, jangly guitars and wirey bass lines. Atom and guitarist ZO share vocal duties and their counterbalancing of song styles – languid stoner guitars one second, clattering punk noise the next – keep things very interesting. Bands like this reward you for showing up early.
Where Hedgehog did not expect much from the audience, experimental noiseniks Senyawa existed to test the crowd, which was dominated by thirty-something Gen Xers there to relive the glory days of local music – whatever that means. Rully Shabara’s vocal contortions conjured up Mike Patton’s adventures in microphone destruction – no, not Jonathon Davis from Korn, as some small-minded degenerate in my vicinity offered – while the curious instrument that Wukir Suryadi wielded kept the collective head-scratching going. Was it experimental world jazz or Indonesian thrash metal? It was better not to ask and simply take it all in.
Much like Regurgitator’s eventual entrance to the stage, donning ‘80s hair-metal double denim while a pelvis-thrusting John Travolta from 1983’s Staying Alive was projected on screen. The statement was clear: we will play our first two albums, Tu Plang and Unit, in their entirety tonight, but we’re not going to take it particularly seriously. Hearing the genre mash and culture clash of both albums tonight, it’s hard to think of such records being so well received by the homogenised alt-radio of today – if it’s not Aussie hip-hop or comfortable twindie folk, piss off! – but just as equally in the mid-'90s.
Rapping one minute, jangly pop with gross-out humour the next, survived purely because they stood out like a welt. On the night, Unit is slightly better received but Tu Plang is performed better. Quan and Ben seem to force themselves through tracks like Polyester Girl and Black Bugs, yet F.S.O. and Social Disaster are still brimming with life. The crowd aren’t here for vast song reworkings; they’re tapping into a mainline of nostalgia surrounding Australian music, which explains the sea of people engulfing the merchandise stand after the show. This works for Senyawa, who were actually robbed earlier on the tour. A collection bucket at the merch desk slowly fills with coins, the odd note and hopefully some good karma.
BY MITCHELL ALEXANDER
Photo credit: Russell Murchie
LOVED: World Of Sleaze and remembering my parent’s horror when I played that song in the car as a 10-year-old.
HATED: Dreadlocks. At a concert. It’s 2012 people.
DRANK: Whatever Atom was drinking, although it may prove toxic for mortal beings.