The odd pairing was far from the weirdest part of the night.
A collaborative initiative as part of Melbourne Music Week and Art Centre Melbourne’s Live at the Bowl series, Happy Mondays brings together two small live music venues each week to curate a lineup for the big stage.
An unlikely pairing, the polar acts delivered two very different performances at Sidney Myer Music Bowl on Monday night.
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Eight-piece future-jazz collective 30/70 were up first with a meandering set of elongated jams that blurred into one another as if a single piece of improvisational music.
The breeze of the unseasonably chilly summer night was bitingly cold as punters huddled in their COVID-safe decks. With bums glued firmly to seats, vocalist Allysha Joy did her best to coax the unenthusiastic crowd off their chairs.
“You can dance,” she encouraged, but few budged.
Unbothered, Joy continued to sashay her way across the stage, making up for the audience’s stubborn stagnancy.
The rest of the band were in their element, too, with Fin Rees’ fingers splayed across two keyboards while back-up vocalists Belle Bangard and JAYDEAN brought the soul with their husky harmonies.
In a swift change of pace, Private Function sauntered on stage next, replacing 30/70’s extended, wandering melodies with short and sharp bursts of belligerent noise.
Less than two songs into their set, the rowdy pub-punks had already broken a mic and let off a string of fireballs, but they were just getting warmed up.
What followed could only be described as raucous ridiculousness; from the RSL-style raffle which saw the punters in deck D12 nab themselves copies of the band’s latest record, Whose Line Is It Anyway? – “Signed by Slim [Shady], believe it or not” – to a live execution.
Yeah, things were about to get fucking weird.
If you grew up in Australia during the late ’80s or early ’90s, you might remember Smith’s bizarre chip ads featuring The Gobbledok – a creature resembling an alien-Troll doll hybrid.
Well, in lieu of appearing in Smith’s commercials, it seems the Gobbledok has secured a new job as Private Functions’ back-up dancer. That was, until the band wheeled out an electric chair and fried the poor little hairy chip-lover onstage in front of our eyes.
But don’t worry, struck by a pang of remorse later in the set, the band decided to resurrect the creature by crumbling a packet of crisps over his limp corpse and all was forgiven.
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Private Function were well and truly living up to the promise plastered over their promo posters for the gig declaring it would be, “The dumbest thing ever”.
The Gobbledok wasn’t the only surprise guest of the night, either – though, thankfully, it was the only one they chose to off – with DickLord’s Jade Green and her “fucking camel toe” making an appearance for ‘Evie Part 4’.
More fireballs, a failed Dirty Dancing-like jump-lift which threatened the second broken mic of the night and a Midnight Oils cover later and the hard-to-please crowd were eating out of the palm of Private Functions’ grubby hands.
Finishing their set with the best song ever written by an Australian band – “And it just so happens to be us” – Private Function tore through ‘Grabbing My Butt’ before going out in a blaze of glory.
The audience wasn’t ready to pack it in just yet, though, thumping their feet as they hollered for, “One more song!”.
It wasn’t looking promising, until vocalist Chris Penney ran back on stage only to bellow, “THERE WILL BE NO ENCORE,” defiantly into the mic while flipping off the crowd with both hands before bolting back off again.
Not bloody bad for a Monday night.
Highlight: The wonderful stupidity of Private Function’s antics
Lowlight: The weather
Crowd Favourite: The Gobbledok