Kicking things off, the ironically titled (obviously) Young Liberals casually go about their business. Their dorky style gives them an innocent edge, which they quickly dispel as they blow the unassuming crowd’s ear drums with primal punk-rock.
They’re rough as guts; all distorted guitar and heavy rhythm that slides back and forth between The Stooges and The Strokes. The mulleted frontman never gets animated, but has a perfect rock scream that cuts through the chaos and energises the room.
Most of this created atmosphere is lost during Exhaustion’s set, though. It all starts out sounding a bit like a sound check, because they’re really just jamming along together. The three-piece play an unenthusiastic first few variations that seem to confuse the crowd.
A bit like Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love breakdown, the band members are all on their own planets, mashing away on their own tangents – they might as well be playing in different rooms. There’s simply nothing for the audience to hold onto until the drums and bass start their own, more succinct, rhythms. Now it’s a bit easier to sink into a deep focus and appreciate the subtle variations, but it still feels over-indulgent. Perhaps they’re simply not the right band to open for Geelong’s Ausmuteants.
The headliners’ first song Freedom Of Information has guitarist Shaun Connor taking over the vocals and he does a great job, chanting angrily, “I don’t wanna touch!” and firing the crowd up straight away. The guys look super-cool, especially bassist Marc Dean who, wearing a singlet and tight jeans, channels rock gods like Slash as he jams along, seemingly lost in his head (but definitely not).
Lead singer Jake Robertson plays pretty corny synthlines that add a meatier, pop element to the band’s otherwise lo-fi garage sound – he’s a great frontman and gives the band a strong core to work around. Robust drummer Billy Gardener also helps.
This disco-punk quartet is about to head off to tour the States. They are well-oiled and go through the motions of playing their biggest crowd-pleasers. That’s not to say they’re doing so passively; all four band members bring heaps of energy to their short, punchy songs and deserve the recent attention they’ve been getting. They might occasionally come across as young and naïve, but Ausmuteants definitely know what they’re doing.