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Live Review: Deez Nuts, Sydney 2016

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Deez Nuts / Relentless / Vices / Final Frontier
The Bald Faced Stag, Sydney 04/03/2016
Review: Matt Doria

Love it or hate it, violence really is the impetus for a great hardcore punk show. Think about it: How many times have you walked into a venue, watched chaos uncoil in a flurry of fists and security belting into walkie talkies, and then huddled out unsatisfied with what went down? Exactly. It just doesn’t happen. The last time Deez Nuts hit Sydney, the show was paused twice due to legitimate punch-ons and one dude being completely soaked in blood; the time before, stage divers led to security pulling the pin altogether. The Melbournites deal in extremes, and tonight was poised to be no different. Never been fake lit? Let’s fucking see it.

Of course, every great shitstorm is proceeded by an even greater opening act. In the hands of local crew Final Frontier, those looking for some genuine vitriol have no reason to sweat (unless you’re the one in the middle of the pit, in which case, you’re fucked). Their crowd may be a little on the tamer side, but the quintet themselves are anything but; frontman Kyle Hudson is absolutely seething with rage as he obliterates his microphone, which is especially impressive when you consider that he’s maybe five feet tall, tops. Style-wise, the band are pretty stock standard, no-frills dive bar hardcore with some sticky sweet shred action. The unit follow a formula, no doubt, but you’d be excused for assuming they’d spent the last decade or two mastering it.

Ignoring the fact that they should be leading Hordern bills by now, local (and BLUNT HQ) favourites Vices tear through their set with a fervency peers would sign their souls away to match. Axe-wielders Jake Forrest, Jai Curtis and Calum Waldegrave spend more time in the air than they do onstage, while John McAleer paces the platform with a presence as stormy as his gutturals. In eschewing from the common thread of setlist-tying speeches, the quintet power through a generous chain of all-out bangers, We’ll Make It Through This (2014) cuts “Sustain” and “Slavery” blazing through the venue before the opus’ title track ties everything up in a blood-soaked bow. When the dust settles, it’s clear that Vices didn’t actually play an opening set. They took a full-blown headline performance, squished it down into a neat 25 minutes, and stole the entire goddamn show with it.

Depressing as it may be, the first mosh of the night doesn’t break out until hometown heroes Relentless take the stage. It’s well earned, though – the five-piece are every shade of raw, sludgy and impervious to mercy as they seep venom from the speakers. It doesn’t make all too much sense to have their slower (compared to Vices and Final Frontier) breed of hardcore serve as the main support, but what Relentless lack in energy, they make up for with the sheer intensity of their namesake. “Blue Rage” alone has punters frothing like rabid wolves, and if we do say so ourselves, cartwheel pits set to shutter strobes look unambiguously fucking mental. Consider us hyped!

43 songs in their immediate discography, and Deez Nuts burst onto the stage with none other than “What I Gotta Do” – for this scribe at least, an entire new magnitude of down-tuned nirvana has been achieved. Seamlessly bleeding into “Tonight We’re Gonna Party” and “Face This On My Own”, the 40-minute exertion played more like a DJ set slathered in breakdowns than it did a serialised run-through. The concept itself is nothing avant garde, but in the custody of JJ Peters and co, it’s one utilised to the fullest of its potential. An isolated downside, however, can be found in the aforementioned 40-minute runtime; 18-track setlist be damned, we’re home from a punk gig before 12am on a Friday night – that shit just ain’t cool, yo.

After years of being noted as Sydney’s single worst live music venue, The Bald Faced Stag has finally been treated to a renovation – new sound system, new lighting setup… There’s a barrier, sure, but it’s not worth causing a fuss over. What is worth causing a fuss over – in a good way, of course – is how incredible bands sound through the new equipment. This is effortlessly Deez Nuts’ crispest sounding performance in our labyrinthine little city; bassist Sean Kennedy chugs harder than a frat boy on “Shot After Shot”, and pivoting flawlessly into “Pour Up” allows sole shredder Matt Rogers to go ham on that closing breakdown.

Speaking of Rogers, the dude has a legitimate temper on him tonight, flinging honest threats to anyone that dare rattle in his direction. “Call me a pussy one more time and I’ll beat the shit out of you,” he says in dead seriousness, wearing his best murder face as he stares directly into a heckler’s soul. Peters is sober, which is mind-blowing enough in itself, but even more so are the bars he spits. The frontman is a notch above his usual peak, slashing through fan favourites (“DTD” a particular highlight) with all of his pseudo-gangster swagger intact. He incites the crowd to chant Sam Carter’s lines on “Band Of Brothers” – an effort with an instant payoff – before closing out with longstanding classic “Your Mother Should Have Swallowed You”.

Honestly, one has to wonder why Deez Nuts are even underway with a headline tour right now – they’ve kept relatively quiet since Word Is Bond dropped last April, but regardless, they killed it; so much so that it isn’t until the end of the night that we realise how tame things actually were. The mosh was unquestionably savage, but not a single fist collided with a face. Perhaps punters were too entranced with the performance to even bother with violence… Or perhaps we were all just terrified that Rogers would whip out a .44 if any shit hit the fan.

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