Reviewed on Friday June 5
Frenzal Rhomb haven’t played at Newtown Social club (formerly the Sandringham Hotel) since 1993. “Don’t pretend you were there,” said frontman Jay Whalley. “You had to build your own stage back then – everyone treats it like a nostalgic thing, but it was shit. You had to build your own stage. Now it’s all haloumi and fucking chips in candelabras.”
Approaching 25 years on the circuit, the Inner West punk rock band has generated a loyal following and a ripper line of merchandise (which are perhaps mutually reinforcing). This gig was a welcome throwback to a less pretentious time for Newtown.
Punk metal outfits Canine and Hostile Objects warmed up the room before Frenzal Rhomb opened with their hate anthem, ‘Russell Crowe’s Band’, kicking a chaotic mosh pit into action, though the crowd was a bit static around the edges, making up a discordant mix of passive bystanders and body-thrashers.
Sliding comfortably into their wry comedy and biting social commentary, Frenzal were able to perform most of their back catalogue in a one-hour set, picking short songs from Sans Souci, A Man’s Not A Camel and Forever Malcolm Young. They raced through crowd favourites such as‘Mummy Doesn’t Know You’re A Nazi’ and ‘You Are Not My Friend’.
They also took the piss out of pub rock, at one point luring the crowd into a Cold Chisel sing-along. “We are $3 off playing ‘Khe Sanh’,” declared Lindsay McDougall, who was then hit by a shower of gold coins. “We’d expect that of St Peters, but not Newtown.”
There weren’t many new tunes on offer, however it seems Frenzal Rhomb have lost nothing of their effortless banter, energy and irreverence. They rounded off the night (perhaps predictably) with ‘Punch In The Face’ and ‘You Can’t Move Into My House’. This was fast-paced punk that doesn’t take itself too seriously and brings out the best of the ’90s.