Reviewed on Saturday January 7
Grease monkeys from all over the country descended on the dusty plains of Canberra's Exhibition Park to demonstrate their automotive prowess and bask in the adoration of car fans at this year's Summernats, a staple in the annual Aussie summer madness.
There was no shortage of revved-up beasts showcasing custom creations with top-class makeovers. Custom paintwork glittered in the burning sun, with a rainbow of colour and ideas to be seen everywhere – not forgetting the immense display of upgrades and renovations accompanying the bodywork, giving a new lease of life to the classic vehicles.
Summernats of course wouldn't be the colossal celebration it is without an excellent soundtrack to accompany the event. Saturday's jam-packed action finished with Thirsty Merc and Airbourne riling up the already rambunctious crowd, warranting another beer or several as punters kicked up more dust to greet the night and these Aussie greats.
The earlier heat of the day couldn’t be understated, and combined with coming off the back of a steady year of touring, Thirsty Merc were visibly tired. After an impressive display of fireworks, they were a step down in energy – their brand of rock had several punters murmuring, “Who are these dudes?”, going to show that perhaps Rai Thistlethwayte and co. weren’t as gritty as Saturday’s crowd were expecting, given they’d been billed alongside Airbourne. Nevertheless, the Merc overcame their bumpy start and smashed out ‘In The Summertime’, ‘The Hard Way’ and ‘The Good Life’, as well as several other staples from their catalogue.
Sealing the grease and grime of the day, Airbourne brought an appropriate amount of sleaze to Summernats, letting the audience get down and even dirtier with massive numbers like 'Breakin' Outta Hell', 'Down On You' and 'Chewin' The Fat'. Each of the band members was equally vicious with their performance, rocking the stage and bringing their audience to a point of delighted exhaustion.
As the crowd filed out in a happy state of congealed booze, sweat and oil, Summernats kick-started the year in a way like no other festival could – rough and skilful, with boobs and beers on tap.