Obscene Extreme Australia festival – 12-13 April 2013
Here is my review of the first Obscene Extreme Australia festival which was held over 2 nights in Australia’s grind capital, Melbourne. The fest was split over two venues, The Tote Hotel and The Bendigo Hotel, but thankfully they are on the same street with only 200 metres (and a pizza shop!) between. The lineup featured international bands Rotten Sound, Birdflesh, Sete Star Sept and Analholiker as well as tons of quality Aussie grind.
Around lunchtime my good mate Andy and I caught a 45 min flight from Canberra to Melbourne which was a nice change from the usual 7 hour drive. We hit the city and wandered around for a while looking for a pub to have a beer and some food. We eventually found one called Lounge Bar and started our booze account with a couple of yummy Kung Foo rice lagers which seemed a bit flat but still went down smoothly. The pub was quite nice although I suspect it would be hipster central later in the night and I did make note of guy sitting near us drinking alone trying to look cool with his elaborately long twirly moustache. I just bet he was writing poetry! Anyway enough of my hipster hatetalk as there’ll be more than enough of that in my reporting from Williamsburg during my US trip this year. We moved downstairs to wait for our Sydney mate Ben and had fun watching people on the street including a no doubt chemically enhanced shirtless guy who was shadowboxing street poles, as well as a special looking guy running up and down the road manically photographing trams going past.
A few trams later and we were in Preston at our mates place where we were staying and into some more beer and yummy pizzas (mmm fake bacon). On the way there I was introduced to the rather strange art of yarn bombing which is putting knitting over street poles, bike racks and other items in the street. Oh what wacky fun you folks have in the big smoke! A quick train ride later and we were in Collingwood and strolling up to legendary venue the Tote for 2 of my favourite things in life – beer and grind!
This was my first time seeing Headless Death which is a death metal band featuring Zev and Christoph from the criminally underrated Roskopp. They play an old sounding death grind ala Impetigo or Terrorizer and I loved the raw raspy vocals and twisted riffs. They covered Hating Life by Grave which sounded great sped up.
It was during Headless Death that I first noticed some of the costumes that Obscene Extreme festivals are known for. Other than some great ones (including a bloke in arseless chaps), sadly ours were not up to the standards of the European maniacs at the main fest and instead a few times I thought I was at a juggalo concert (not a pleasant thought). One standout couple had tied tampons into their hair but hadn’t even gone to the logical next step of smearing some tomato sauce on them for added gross out factor. They were already pretty trashed at 4pm but they did have staying power as I noticed them several more times over the weekend and they weren’t lying in the gutter.
Up next were grinders Internal Rot who also feature lucky Christoph playing his second set in a row. Afterwards he looked like he was dying but he told me he had a bit of a spew and then felt fine 5 mins later. What a champion! IR were in fine form that night and probably the best I’ve seen them as I could hear Brad’s guitar really well for once. They are super energetic on stage (especially Max) which always helps a performance. Really great pure grind band and always a pleasure to see. I’m really looking forward to their upcoming album on Blastasfuk Records.
Birdflesh played next which seemed way too early but they also played a 2nd set later on at the Bendigo. I’ve seen them before a few times at MDF and they are still one of the most fun bands to watch live. I rarely listen to their albums because they are so much better live. Any band that has songs about cats and goes from playing a song called Anal Misery to one called The Flying Penis rules for me. As can be seen in the pics they wore amusing outfits and everytime I looked at the bassist he reminded me of the evil wizard Toth-Amon in Conan The Destroyer. Even though they are Swedish I had always assumed that drummer Addes amusing accent was an affectation however I’m pretty sure I heard him talking in the bar and it was the same. They are a killer outfit though with sharp and short thrashy grind songs and hilarious banter between songs. As expected the sunken moshpit area at the Tote was way too small for a decent pit and at one point some unlucky woman’s head collided with my shin which I suspect was worse for her than me. The last note that I typed into my phone perfectly sums them up, “too much fun”.
I was eager to see Filth as they hadn’t played in 18 years and the one split 7” of theirs I own was pretty decent (although I can see where the poor-mans-Blood-Duster-ripoff tag came from). The singer was the only original and he showed up in a splendid pimp outfit and 2 other bands members had balaclavas on which is always welcome. Unfortunately they sounded AWFUL! The guitar was just a low rumble and everything just sounded boomy and undecipherable. Maybe they were going for that sound but it was quite a disappointment for me. The highlight was a song dedicated to Jeff Hanneman’s spider bite. Well actually the dedication itself was the highlight as the song sounded like a dull roar.
Due to Filth sounding like arse I wandered down to the Bendigo to check out The Kill and managed to catch the last song of Carcass cover band Flatus who sounded pretty killer. It made me even keener to see Carcass at MDF in May although I suspect they will further ignore my favourite album Symphonies of Sickness in favour of new songs. I also checked out the merch stands which had OEF bands and also the wonderful Blastasfuk Records distro set up. I didn’t buy anything as I planned on waiting until later in the night so I didn’t have to lug around records.
The beers were kicking in nicely when The Kill came on and their intense assault led to one of the more violent moshes of the weekend. The guitar sound was a bit quiet at first but was quickly fixed which allowed those amazing razor sharp riffs to shine. They mostly played newer songs but did crank out Walking Dead and the cover of The Kill which was great. I do wish they still played a few older songs like Axe Attack, Fuck Emo and my favourite Tracksuit Pants Are Thrash but the new songs like Another Weirdo In The Mosh and Fucking Doyle are certainly very welcome. I saw the first blow up toys of the festival during their set and thought back to the party brigade antics of MDF but alas nothing similar eventuated.
Following The Kill is not really advisable to most bands but Birdflesh managed superbly and were even more fun with a few additional beers in my system. They played pretty much the same set as a few hours earlier and once I realised this and that they probably wouldn’t play the song The Night Of The Ultimate Mosh I decided to go and check out The Day Everything Became Nothing. Believe me it’s not easy to walk out on seeing such a great band as Birdflesh but I felt the need for some gurgling goregrind.
When I arrived The Day Everything Became Nothing were already playing to a much smaller crowd than usual but immediately the gore receptors in my brain fired and I was smiling my head off in no time. They were so heavy and chunky and even though I missed my favourite song Cut, I was still loving every second of it. I don’t think any other Australian band causes such involuntary headbanging as they do. Thanks to top bird Kristie for the following photo as well as the pics of Super Fun Happy Slide, Fuck…I’m Dead, Rotten Sound and me sipping a beer.
The studded jackets came out when Nuclear Death Terror started but that’s about as far as my memory goes due to beer. I do recall that NDT sounded pretty bloody tough though and more dynamic than last time I saw them. The notes on my phone include the line “damn pints! used to schooners” which I think was a reference to drinking a little too quickly so I could change venues.
I wandered back down to the Bendigo to check out a bit of death metallers Odiusembowel who I’d never seen and were closing the night. I felt I owed them as once a member had given me a free cd of theirs just because I looked like I was a metalhead (probably not a hard assumption to make given I have long hair and am always wearing a metal shirt). It’s all rather hazy but my notes do say “blasty” but more tellingly “need to lean against wall die to beer” which is possibly not a typo. Sorry lads but I’m fairly certain I enjoyed it. The final note on my phone read “no pizza = sad me” as the pizza shop had shut by that stage. I’m glad I still had my priorities straight after that much beer.
Not sure about the next hour or so but I do recall our group grabbing 2 taxis from the Tote and scooting off to Preston where I made the potentially fatal mistake of having another beer. Thankfully it just resulted in a bit more of a hangover the next day and a few embarrassing photos of me molesting a stuffed Kermit the Frog toy.
I managed about 7 hours sleep all up which was good but, as usual, I hadn’t drunk any water before bed and therefore had that horrible furry throat feeling for half the day. The hangover improved after a decent café breakfast at 2pm and we ended up playing some backyard cricket until Andy hit both balls over the neighbours fence. Our wonderful hosts supplied some very yummy dumplings and I restarted the booze campaign with a few local beers including a tasty chocolate porter from brewers Holgate. I promised a beer review and this was the standout beer of the weekend but tough shit as all I can remember is that it was damn tasty but didn’t taste like chocolate enough. Here is a photo of the beer I stole from another website (shhh).
We caught the train in which was full of Carlton football supporters and I made a sarcastic comment about wondering if they were playing and was quicky shushed by local mate Dave. Melbourne folks apparently take their footy very seriously and he probably feared I’d have my head punched in (thanks man).
Due to dinner/travelling I missed the first few bands which was a shame as I wanted to see the New Caledonian band Analkholic as I’d chatted with a few of the guys the day before and they were nice chaps and very eager to play. I had heard good things about Dark Horse and Michael Crafter too but oh well.
Super Fun Happy Slide were first up and they had their usual raw sound although initially the guitars were a bit too quiet/muddly for my liking. They raged though and I was pleased to see the tampon couple from the previous day up the front looking completely wasted again. One thing I love about SFHS is the vocal interplay (god that sounds wanky) between Nik and Brad and tonight they were spot on. They played a cover of the always awesome Napalm Death song Deceiver and also played the strangely effective Mayhem song Deathcrush which actually got the biggest mosh! Top notch set chaps.
King Parrot are a newish band who seem to have had a meteoric rise in the Australian scene but honestly they don’t do much for me. They play grindish deathish thrashish metal that is fast and furious and reminds me sometimes of Damaged (and not just because Skitz was drumming for them) but there just doesn’t seem much substance to the songs. However they do put on an energetic show and the singer makes great use of his wireless mic and is in the crowd nearly as much as on the stage. The crowd were loving it too but after a few songs I slinked off down to the Bendigo to try and catch Debacle however they were running early and I only managed to catch about 30 seconds of them. Damn I’m currently listening to the OEF compilation cd and the Debacle song rules!! Shit!
Sydney hardcore blokes Deathcage were on next and were a band I’d never heard but was quite impressed by. The drummer was in fine form and was the biggest standout and I wasn’t surprised to find he’d been in plenty of Sydney punk bands before. The crowd was a bit sparse but there was one keen bloke generating a one man mosh pit. They played a quality brand of hardcore with some good melodies although a few too many guitar solos for my liking. As seen below in the great photo by Nikki, I commenced wearing the wig I had found where we were staying and got some great looks and comments from people as it looked quite ridiculous. Little did I know of the journey that wig would undertake that evening!!
Japanese noise grind band Sete Star Sept were on next at the Tote and it was a packed house when I arrived. They had a better sound that the show a few days ago in Canberra but played pretty much the same set I think. Sadly I didn’t have much of a view which was a shame as the drummer is definitely worth watching as he’s very animated. They have the lovely Japanese contrast of being nice and polite offstage but very intense onstage. At the end of the set the singer dropped her bass and jumped into the crowd but unlike Canberra she didn’t just thump onto the floor (3 times intentionally!) but was caught by the crowd. The crowd chanted for an encore and they came back on stage and he just smashed a cymbal for a minute while I think she fiddled with her bass producing distortion. Best encore ever. After this my wig was requisitioned by Jay from Fuck…I’m Dead for their upcoming set which was very becoming on him.
I had the tough decision next of Fuck…I’m Dead vs Rotten Sound but RS were playing a 2nd set later so FID won (plus I’d been told it was their last show for some time). I’m very glad I made this decision as they were devastating and played a great set of new and old tunes. Plenty of other people also stayed to watch them and there was tons of stage diving and stepping on of Xavier’s pedals. Jay was in fine form between songs and I’m pretty sure I even heard a reference to Damon’s mum. He wore the wig as well as some other garment that may have been a blow up doll once although the poor wig was later stuffed into his pants as a merkin. The defiled wig was later returned and I foolishly put it back on. Killer set and I hope they return to the stage soon.
There was a mass exodus of The Tote after FID finished with most of the crowd heading down for the mighty Captain Cleanoff who put on probably the highlight set of the weekend while poor Kromosom probably played to a pretty small crowd. Cleanoff were on fire tonight and had a perfect sound and really great crowd response. There is something about their brand of grind that is just heaven to my ears with the perfect mix of speed and catchy riffs. They also covered the Magnacite song Slave which was once a favourite of our radio show. This was the closest I ever got to seeing Magnacite live and I’m still kicking myself for never travelling to Melbourne back in the 90s to see them, Undinism and Warsore live. Cleanoff certainly did it justice although personally I wish they’d chosen a longer song like Humanity’s A Lie or Exist As Me. The Bendigo was sweaty and steamy when they finished and the masses piled out to hurry up the road to the Tote for Finns Rotten Sound.
I first saw Rotten Sound at MDF in 2007 where they were one of the tightest bands I’d ever seen and not much has changed as they were blistering. Honestly I mostly only listen to Murderworks as I think they perfected the formula there so half the songs were unknown to me but they still ruled. My memories are pretty hazy actually due to beer and I was still on a high from Captain Cleanoff but I certainly enjoyed their set. Afterwards vocalist Keijo had the honour of wearing the wig and I took the time to beg him to play the song Insane at MDF this year but he politely told me no chance and that they only play what they feel like. Booooo! Thanks to Nikki for the lovely photo of Keijo and the wig.
I’d heard that this was possibly the 2nd last Blood Duster show ever so there was no way I was going to miss it and I’m glad I didn’t as they kicked arse. Sadly I missed Canberra band The Reverend Jesse Custer but I had seen them a few days prior. For some odd reason they played with 2 drummers at the same time – current guy Dave Haley and previous long term bloke Matt Rizzo – which meant for a crowded stage and lots of craned necks from the crowd. They seemed to be taking turns and it wasn’t really that noticeable most of the time except for a solo by both in the middle of Threeohhsevenohh. Shenanigans aside Duster put on an awesome show and the crowd lapped it up. Being an old bastard I was hoping they might drag out an old Menstrual Soup demo song like Ted or another ancient classic like Derek. Sadly they didn’t but I was still stoked to hear Kill, Kill, Kill, Vulgar Taste, Raping The Elderly and Simultaneous Pleasure Pinch from the Fisting The Dead album as well as a few Yeest songs. The newish song The Band That Fame Forgot was great too and really made that killer Duster groove shine. The crowd was pretty wild and much fun was had yelling along to the lines “I want to fuck a corpse” and “rubbing my stiffy” although nothing is quite as great as screaming “we are the fist fuck family” at Cock And Ball Torture (small things..). I’ve been seeing Blood Duster live for 20 years and they have been some of the most fun times I’ve had and this was no difference. If this was my final Duster show then it was a ripper to go out on.
At that point the bands had finished so I decided to get some money out of the ATM and grab some merch. Alas the ATMs at both pubs were empty and I only had $15 on me so I bought NO MERCH!! Argh I felt dirty inside! We hung around for a while and then wandered over to the mighty Souvlaki King on Brunswick Street where a divine lamb souvlaki was vigorously consumed by my drunken self before we taxied home.
Thankfully I actually remembered to drink some water before bed so I didn’t feel too shabby the next day. Sadly I had booked my flight before discovering there was an OEF after party on Sunday afternoon so unfortunately I missed it. Dave was a true gentleman and drove Andy, Ben and I to the airport and off we flew back to Canberra where my darling Ann picked us up. Thanks a million to Dave, Irene, Chris and Ange for the marvellous hospitality and wig provision and for introducing me to my new beau Kermit The Frog. Also thanks to OEF mainman Curby and Jason Fuller for organising such a killer weekend! Cheers!!
As an added bonus here is a random picture I took of an alley while walking between the 2 venues which turned out pretty cool. Also below that is an awesome flyer for OEF designed by Aussie legend artist Glenno.