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Live Review: The Bennies, Sydney 2015

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The Bennies / The Hard Aches / Wet Pensioner / Bilby
The Factory Floor, Sydney 27/11/2015
Review: Matt Doria

Two things in this life are certain: death, and the nectarous stench of weed at a Bennies show. The bong-touting maniacs are known for nothing if not their ‘get fucked up, then fuck shit up’ attitude, and if the Party Whirlwind tour back in March had given us any indication, tonight’s (sold out!) attack on Sydney was poised to be one laden with ravenous party vibes, inebriated debauchery, and a glistening haze no vinegar-goaded smoke machine could ever have mustered.

Out in the beer gardens, the crowd was a varied bunch. Some were clad in obscure band shirts, clenching plastic cups as they shared memories of punk shows past. Others stood precarious, blissfully unaware of the mayhem that lie ahead – may Anty have mercy on their souls. Inside the venue, things were a lot quieter, with a grand total of seven punters having gathered to watch local rapper Bilby (a.k.a. Blinky Trill) lay down some lo-fi bars.

An attempt to accurately describe the Melbourne trio Wet Pensioner is essentially a death sentence – they’re a crack team of plague-busting time drifters, soaring through dimensions to save humanity from a toxic noise that turns its listeners into vapour. They do so by fighting it with their own cataclysmic sound, a hardcore tinged barrage of avant-garde scream’n’shred delirium with vocals so imperviously vicious that only those worthy to may endure them. The 30-minute set was nothing short of ridiculous – flourished with such life-altering gems as “McNugget Rampage” and a homage to the ’97 cult classic Face/Off – but even when you strip back the gimmick, Wet Pensioner are just a really good band.

Adelaide duo The Hard Aches took to the stage with their warm, summery pub rock vibes comfortably in tow. A simple affair of one guitar, drums and vocals, their homespun sound was an elemental one, though its impact was undeniable. Punters familiar with the act sung along with thrilling fervour, and those that weren’t stood in awe, tapping their feet with eyes widened as vocalist/guitarist Ben David tore their hearts to shreds with the invigorated stomps of “Loser”.

The Bennies kicked their set off by blaring Pendulum’s “Tarantula” (one of this writer’s all-time favourite songs) through the PA, its scatter-paced bass drop met with a blinding shutter of blue and white lights to acquaint the Melbourne-native sonic anarchists into their sweaty, overcrowded home for the next 45 minutes. Setlists can be a fickle bitch when there’s only a short amount of stage time to fill, but The Bennies succeeded in packing theirs with only the most excitable of fan favourites. They came out guns blazing with “What’s Your Fuckin’ Problem?”, spurring the now-packed out Factory Floor into a hurricane of thrashing bodies. “Party Machine” – our first taste of their upcoming third album – made an early appearance in the set, and judging by the sheer insanity of the response it incited, we can safely say that it’s already a classic.

If nothing else, The Bennies’ set was loud. Like, really fucking loud. When the band smashed into “Acid On Me Brain”, vocalist Anty Horgan’s curious “Am I paranoid!?” was met with psychopathic roars of “YES! YOU’RE! PARANOID!!!” After settling in, he asked the crowd to scream loud enough for punters in the Factory’s main hall – where another concert was taking place – to hear them. Not only did they undoubtedly pull it off, but we’re almost certain some nearby residents were treated to an early wake up call. The hype was settled, at least momentarily, when The Bennies broke into some of their jammier, more reggae-infused numbers. “Sensi-Mi” was an uncommon moment of solidarity within the crowd, as flung limbs were traded for passed joints. But as one would expect, most of the set as a whole saw punters passing around their favourite strains; by the halfway point, latecomers would be excused for thinking they had just walked into a brutally loud sauna.

Amongst a handful of party-punk bangers, the quartet delivered some hilariously slurred stage banter, and one legitimately (and surprisingly) touching speech about the importance of music in what is ostensibly a rough time for the scene – culminating in a moment where the entire crowd gave each other high fives. They finished up with breakout single “Knights Forever”, before chants of “one more song/bong!” began to flood the room. “Anywhere You Wanna Go” and “Hold On” mustered one last outburst of energy, and then we all shuffled out of the venue in a haze of unrelenting foot pain, and even more unrelenting munchies.

To Maccas, we ride!

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