Live Review: The 90s Return With The Lemonheads, Veruca Salt, Spiderbait and The Living End
On Saturday March 3, Red Hill Auditorium was the venue for blasts from the past. Specifically, 90s alternative rock (Alternative Rock?) blasts, courtesy of The Lemonheads, Veruca Salt, Spiderbait and The Living End.
The Lemonheads kicked off the proceedings with workmanlike competence. Frontman Evan Dando transitioned from song to song – one dimensional heart-on-my-sleeve lyrics made palatable through pop-punk propulsion – without sparing so much as a second for a 'What’s up Perth?' That, and Dando’s long hair masking his face, was highly suggestive of a sullen motherfucker ready to get this shit over with. Having said that, the simplistic college-rock sound is shunned today, perhaps because of its chronic uncoolness; The Lemonheads filled that void, lack of showmanship notwithstanding. 'Hospital' in particular hit all the right notes. I liked them quite a bit, but the crowd’s lack of enthusiasm was noticeable.
Fortunately, Chicago rockers Veruca Salt livened things up with spunk and pizzazz. Lead vocalists and guitarists Nina Gordon and Louise Post gleefully seized the stage and the crowd with 'Earthcrosser', 'Spiderman ’79', and of course the old favourite 'Seether'. Just some pleasingly unsophisticated bursts of sonic joy of the Grrrl Power kind.
Spiderbait, fronted by Kram, killed it. Fucking killed it. Kram is the sort of entertainer an introvert like myself can barely comprehend; he seemed to actually feed off the crowd’s energy and reactions, the mad man. The crowd was whipped up into a frenzy as they went on. It was really something to see. And they ended their set beautifully with an epic rendition of 'Black Betty'.
And lastly, The Living End. Reasserting their place as one of Australia’s best rockers, Chris Cheney and co. rounded off the event in style, though they didn’t quite match Veruca Salt’s unbridled joy or Spiderbait’s rowdiness. Indeed, Cheney’s vocals seemed a little tired at times. But any hiccups were promptly redeemed by an energetic rendition of the punkish, rockabilly hit, 'Prisoner of Society'.
These bands have obviously amassed a hardcore fanbase over a period of at least two decades. Most folks present were pushing 50. However, the bursts of exuberance, of pure youthful joy, whenever an old favourite blared was unexpectedly moving; it added a poignant weight to the evening. It’s nice to see with your own eyes that some loves remain pure.