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Live Review: Jeff Rosenstock, Sydney 2016

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Jeff Rosenstock / Antarctigo Vespucci / Camp Cope / Sweater Season
Factory Floor, Sydney 09/03/2016
Review: Matt Doria

Jeff Rosenstock is a man of many talents – statement making; DIY ethic upholstering; beer drinking… He looks like he’d be a great rollerblader as well, but above all, the Long Island native is a dedicated, down to earth and ridiculously talented musician. This is probably best exemplified by the fact that he’s currently underway with a 42-date world tour, not only headlining with his solo project, but also shredding out in Antarctigo Vespucci: the power pop alter-ego of he and Fake Problems frontman (and total babe) Chris Farren. Double the Rosenstock means double the good vibes, and although we’re smack-bang in the middle of a working week, the Factory Floor is straight out flooding with them.

Opening duties are reserved for local lo-fi unit Sweater Season, who take to the stage with a sloppy, albeit oddly satisfying array of soul-numbing sadboy jams. Colliding with his own riffs and Dylan Farrugia’s, Dave Parker on bass and Luke Rogers smashing snares, Jacob Rossi’s vocals are reduced to little more than an incongruous mumble. Picture yourself watching an instrumental act with an exceptionally talkative (and for some reason, melodic) punter standing two spots away – that’s more or less what Sweater Season deliver. That being said, the instrumental is as solid as they come. Crunchy bass, booming drums and frigid noodling: it’s as groovy as it is abrasive – a seesawing scale tip between cloudy shoegaze and scratchy underground emo.

Described affably by Farren as “Australia’s daughters,” Camp Cope waste no time in bringing the Factory Floor to a standstill, their polarising wallop of indie-soaked indignation sweeping through the venue like an atom bomb’s shockwave. Georgia Maq’s vocals steadily flicker between a honey-sweetened twang and a biting scream, “West Side Story” a ghostly ballad designed for swaying hands and “Jet Fuel Can’t Melt Steel Beams” a powerfully poetic slam-rock scorcher. Paired with Kelly Hellmrich’s bright, bubbly bass tones and Sarah Thompson’s crackling drums, the Melbourne trio take no more than thirty seconds to establish themselves as a force not to be fucked with. Come the release of their self-titled debut (April 22nd via Poison City), we’re expecting nothing less than complete and utter world domination.

A sugar-encrusted outburst of fierce, fast and fist-pumping pop-rock, Antarctigo Vespucci slam through their set in a matter of mere seconds – or so it felt. Chris Farren is possibly the liveliest frontman we’ve ever seen, ricocheting around the stage as he belts anthems the ’90s would lovingly embrace. Despite his headline set following immediately thereafter, Rosenstock is equally impetuous with an axe in hand, juggling synths and backup vocals to boot. He and Farren have an undeniable chemistry, drawing genuine belly laughs as they get carried away in their own back-and-forth banter. The band power through a setlist of their biggest and bounciest cuts, “I Drew You Once In Art Class” and “I’m Giving Up On U2” both infectiously chantable highlights.

Well and truly drenched in sweat by this point, Death Rosenstock storms back onstage and – after an introduction delivered entirely in whispers – dropkicks into his headline set with a sped-up rendition of “You, In Weird Cities”. Tracks from last year’s We Cool? are spread generously throughout the hourlong assemblage, “Novelty Sweater” and lead single “Nausea” inciting the most rapturous of singalongs, while “Hey Allison!” and “Get Old Forever” spur the crowd into a flurry of thrashing heads. 2012’s I Look Like Shit is admittedly given much less attention, but still enough to have longtime fans unconditionally losing their shit; “The Trash The Trash The Trash” in particular is near inaudible from all of the clamour it gathers.

Ghostenstock and his band (filled in with guitarist Dan Potthast, bassist John DeDomenici and drummer Kevin Higuchi) look a little less than animated – there are moments where DeDomenici is confused by the riff at hand, and Potthast has absolutely no fucking idea how to use a KORG – but make no mistake, these are some hardcore motherfuckers; at any given moment, Snowsenstock looks as though he’s a second away from passing out, but not for a second does his energy come anywhere close to wavering. Penultimate frother “Beers Again Alone” sees him play a solo on Potthast’s guitar with his harmonica-equipped mouth, and before cooling down with a synthesised translation of its crooning orchestral outro, he throws his own guitar into the crowd for punters to devise their own solo on “Darkness Records”.

A couple of new jams, a dedication to ex-Bomb The Music Industry! trombonist Matt Keegan, and a solid hour of raw, passionate and beaten up punk jams shuttered out with fervour from a crew of diehard legends: Jeff Rosensomething is an international treasure, and should – nay, must! – tour Down Under at least four times a year. We’ll see you in June, bro.

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