Reviewed on Friday October 3

Playing to a quiet room, Melbourne’s Freak Wave were three dudes with low-slung guitars, one singing drummer and a Guided By Voices t-shirt. They kinda sound like Jawbox, with pounding drums, squealing guitar and Superchunk-y riffs, offset by Neil Moog’s deep vocals. They played a tight set to the small but appreciative audience that was trickling in.

The room was full by the time The Laurels started setting up, dragging a large pedal board onstage. Against a wall of ear-splitting sound, ‘Tidal Wave’, ‘Manic Saturday’ and ‘Changing The Timeline’ felt particularly woozy, with the standout being the epic ‘Black Cathedral’. They’re reminiscent of a darker version of The Charlatans or The Stone Roses – there’s a sweetness to the vocals and relentless pop hooks underneath all that fuzz.

From the first piercing note, Screamfeeder had the crowd pulled in, frantically shaking along as frontman Tim Steward leapt around the stage. There was much love for the Brisbane band that spent over a decade carving a place for itself as Australia’s own purveyors of noisy pop, and those onstage were enjoying themselves as much as the punters. Steward was particular bouncy, jumping off the bass drum and high-kicking, while after one song he dropped his guitar and high-fived bassist Kellie Lloyd. The two kept the self-deprecating chatter flowing in between songs, talking candidly with the audience.

Coinciding with the re-release of Screamfeeder’s first four albums (Flour, Burn Out Your Name, Fill Yourself With Music and Kitten Licks) on Melbourne’s Poison City records, this was the first night of their Early Years tour. The songs held up. Steward admitted that while some of the lyrics felt distant and had lost their initial meaning, re-learning their earlier material meant they found new ways to reconnect with them based on the feeling.

With boundless energy, they ripped through a blistering hour set including ‘Wrote You Off’, ‘Static’, ‘Explode Your Friends’, ‘Gravity’, ‘Fill Yourself With Music’ and the Sugar-esque ‘Tower’. Crowd favourite was the bratty ‘Dart’, which was met with jerky air guitar, while Lloyd’s sugary vocals took the lead on ‘Down The Drinker’.

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