Reviewed on Saturday March 18 (photo by Ashley Mar)

Amid a sea of nostalgia-baiting anniversary tours, there are a few notable standouts. The best of them show that the passing of time has taken none of the fire out of the music, nor the band itself.

 

For tonight’s openers Screamfeeder, a stalwart of Australia’s grunge/garage scene, nostalgia was far from the priority. Instead, Tim Steward was keen to promote new material from the trio, their first in over a decade, to be released later this year. Screamfeeder were as musically cohesive as ever, but the stage space felt oddly tense, cramping what may otherwise have been a straightforward and fun set.

 

Not so for The Meanies, who proved themselves to be a long way from a legacy act. This is the band Jay from Frenzal Rhomb says he wishes they could be, and it wasn’t hard to see why. Despite Link Meanie’s unverifiable claims of suffering “jet lag” from their Melbourne flight, he powered through a brutal set by our nation’s true punk champs. If you’ve never seen Link onstage before, try to picture the exact midpoint between Iggy Pop and your dad. This band is legendary.

 

Applying the same term to Spiderbait seems a moot point – they’ve long been one of our finest exports, and the announcement that their seven-year hiatus had ended need not have been cause for concern. Even if they’re cashing in on the legacy train and performing a tour of Ivy And The Big Apples from top to bottom.

 

It’s not simply because Ivy is a killer album – again, it hardly needs to be said – but because Kram is some kind of mythical beast. If Australia has produced a finer drummer, I’m yet to see them. Kram did as Kram does, smashing through track after track and jam after jam, eyes locked on guitarist Damien Whitty as Janet English laid down her unstoppable bass grooves.

 

The only indicator of the 20 years since Ivy’s release was English’s motherly concern for the fans. “Just be careful, alright?” she asked of the front row, cautious of crowd-surfing blows to the head, before the trio crashed straight back into ‘Calypso’.

 

English and Kram need not have sung a word – the Enmore had them covered, bonus tracks and all. The band took a break after wrapping Ivy and still had 20 minutes to fill before the noise restrictions set in, and so they smashed out the hits, wrapping the night with a double-time ‘Black Betty’ that shook the room.

 

Two decades on, they’re still fucking awesome.

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