Saturday, February 27, 2010

Teratology – Fri 26 Feb @ Pony

We are a little nervous heading to Pony. All rock venues scare me a bit, but it’s Avalon’s first night out in town since smashing her kneecap, and the 86 tram is a mid-level debacle of broken air-conditioning and teenagers on heat. Worried this is a taste of things to come, we console ourselves with an on-the-spot truism: the weirder the music, the nicer the crowd. And on paper the music tonight looks pretty fucking weird.

Without a lift to the bush doof, we are heading to Teratology – a night of breakcore, plunderphonics and related sounds from the electronic division of the punk scene. The main attraction for me is Toecutter from Sydney’s System Corrupt crew; three years ago a warehouse party near Sydney Central was shut down before he could take the stage, and I’ve never managed to see him since.

The bouncer takes a long look at my sandals, then waves us up stairs shaking beneath the bass-heavy beats of Dysphemic. The instant relief of cool air and seats up the back is tempered slightly by the stale smell of beer, but this was Pony, after all. How long has it been? About two years since my old workmates from Sydney band Crux blasted their hardcore/death/krust/??? at a demographically similar but larger crowd.

Am I imagining it, or is this crowd a bit older? Hell, I’m a bit older. My guess would be breakcore peaked years ago, but this scene (or sub-scene) seems to be happily ploughing along with its DIY ethos, eardrums and sense of humour all well intact. And if they’ve lost a few people along the way, noone could be too surprised. Just listen to the tunes, if you dare.

But it’s fun to get outside my comfort zone for a night - and into someone else’s, as it turns out, because at times the cliquishness seems over-the-top. During the first of several equipment malfunctions, when Toecutter jumps on stage and leads the crowd in a chorus of happy birthday to the apparently well-known Melody, Avi wonders whether we’ve invaded someone’s lounge room. But when he continues to buy time with an inpromptu stand-up routine – a tour nightmare story involving drinking from the Seine and becoming violently ill in an Amsterdam squat – we are beginning to feel like old friends.

Dysphemic returns with some faster broken beats, and then it’s time for Anklepants – and one of the most ridiculously enjoyable shows I’ve seen in yonks. Dressed in a strange mask with a rotating penis where the nose should be, he drops danceable beats from 80s to hard’n’fast techno – only occasionally straying into splatter territory – with live vocals reminiscent of a dentist’s drill. It’s a silly scene, and Avi is up and dancing on her stool (an impulse she regrets somewhat later on). Anklepants brings the noise, be sure to check him out.

The American headliner, Robert Inhuman from Realicide, plays a stupidly hard set of breakcore with live vocals – which puts us instantly in mind of a good set of earplugs. I find most of it hard to contextualise, but his opening and closing addresses are both magnificent: heartfelt pleas to come up and dance, pick up one of his posters, send him an email and make friends – interspersed with comments about what a great man Toecutter is. I think it’s ironic but, not quite sure, yell out “I love you man!” at the end. As every grandmother alive would say, he sure seems like a nice guy – such a shame about the fucked-up music.

Toecutter brings the night home one shamelessly plagiaristic slammer after another – although many of the tracks play for half a minute at most before he cuts them off with a “That’s that!” and proceeds to take requests and banter with the crowd. The persistent demand for AC/DC is denied, but one epic track moves effortlessly from an uplifting trance sample to a classic Metallica riff (I think, or was it Slayer?), and a number of people seem to know every breakdown and shout-out. He’s undoubtedly a popular scene figureheard, and is certainly an intriguing looking fellow with glasses, short hair, bushy beard – and are they toys hanging around his neck?

The whole thing is almost strange and funny enough to make me want to be a punk. But of course, I enjoy being a hippie at punk gigs way too much for that. As we head home on a freezing 86 tram, pondering why fucked-up music makes both of us so happy, I award Avi the cool points for digging up the evening’s entertainment on - where else? - Facebook.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a bunch of bellends.