First seen at AMNplify.
Some bands don’t want to subscribe to a genre, The Bennies on the other hand can’t seem to make up their mind. They’ve been taking their unique blend of “Psychedelic Reggae Ska Doom Metal Punk Rock from Hell” to all corners of Australia in a massive 27 dates over 40 days to promote the recent release of their third album, Wisdom Machine. With Anty taking care of vocals and korg, Jules on the guitar, Bowie drumming and Craig covering the bass, you won’t be bored at one of their shows. Friday night saw them in University of Wollongong’s Uni Bar with local punk rock trio Kaleidoscope alongside the tour’s special guests, Axe Girl and Clowns.
The Bennies – photo by Britt Andrews Photography
Kaleidoscope kicked off a full lineup, punching out a half hour set of tracks very reminiscent of late 90s garage punk. Instrumental was definitely their strong point with the three South Coast locals head banging long dreads and defiantly shouting their lyrics to be heard over the rolling melodies of guitar and bass. Mayalla was the standout track from their set.
Kaleidoscope – photo by Britt Andrews Photography
Originating from Perth, aka the other side of the world, Axe Girl’s distinctly brighter, fast-paced pop punk, wasn’t exactly what the crowd was expecting. However, by the time the set was over, many were declaring “I’ve never heard of them before but they were fucking awesome”.
Axe Girl | Photography by Britt Andrews
Their set started out slow bass-heavy with rumbling guitar riffs and it only accelerated from there, accented by the off-centre, explosive feminine vocals of Axe, reminiscent of Metric’s Emily Haines or Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. From the second track of their set onwards, they were winning over the crowd. Mid-way through Axe picked up a glittering red guitar and added some welcome layers to their melodic full sound. With her blue tipped fly away hair, blue eye shadow, star spangled leggings, and endless bounds of energy, manic pixie Axe is definitely the epicentre of the group. On the last track, they even threw in some screams, a great way to transition to Clowns’ music.
Clowns’ frontman Stevie came out to three jamming band mates, declared the song was about those few times why it’s bad to take drugs and was crowd surfing by the end of the second chorus. A-rhythmic short fast loud songs interspersed throughout the set list. Clowns know how to build a song with an apex of intensity. Early on in the set they debuted a new song with a ripping guitar intro (didn’t tell us the name though). Stevie gleefully staring into the pit of writhing punters. If your dream was to crowd surf, Clowns would be the band to make that happen. They’ve got audience engagement down to a science.
They were absolutely unwilling to let any silence into their whole set from the moment they entered the stage to the time they left.
Clowns | Photography by Britt Andrews
Jared King aka Goon’s guitar string snapped mid-song and threw off the rest of the band. Apparently they’d never fucked up a song that badly before and Stevie joked that would be his last show with them. “Does anyone know any guitarists looking to rock with the Clowns?” Regardless, they went back, fixed it up and finished out with aplomb. The pinnacle of their set was when Stevie climbed up to the top of two speaker stacks and jumped off to be caught by the ecstatic clump of fans several metres below.
To give you an idea of The Bennies set you need to know this, elicit substances consumed on stage sets the tone for the rest of the evening. Puffing on a joint in between lyrics, Anty was barely in one place for longer than a second, at one point flapping his arms like he was about to fly away. Right from the start the set was supercharged reggae ska rock. Axe came on and shouted out a verse from Heavy Disco. She and Anty shared some adorable in-joke choreography to a synth percussive accent in the track. They also invited Stevie of Clowns back to lend his vocals to Corruption.
The Bennies featuring Axe Girl | Photography by Britt Andrews
The chemistry between these four blokes is incredible to behold. At one point, Anty lovingly stroked the hair behind Craig’s ears while he continued to shred the bass. Throughout the set they took the time to feature each other. Craig demolished a particularly compelling bass solo in Acid on Me Brain. Even though Anty took a break in My Bike to get the audience involved in the lyrics, the highlight was him, Craig and Jules sitting on the stage like good little school kids watching Bowie thrash his drum kit in a killer solo. Jules had some amazing moments to shine all night long with every melody intricate yet catchy, a standout example being the intro to Anywhere You Wanna Go. Anty, Jules and Craig’s voices could be heard in different parts of each song.
The final few tracks took a decidedly theatrical turn with Party Till I Die (Or Die Trying) and Corruption – reverb everywhere, slow, thick and greasy bass, guitars, everything really, punctuated by painstakingly screamed lyrics.
The Bennies | Photography by Britt Andrews
They made you work for the bridge of Party Machine: everyone’s favourite line to shout over and over, “One part party, one part machine!” The final message to us before closing out with Knights Forever was “Make slow changes with massive outcomes by being nice to each other”. Telling absurd stories in their songs makes people comfortable to behave however they want. Perhaps that’s why there were shoes flying everywhere the whole night (and some dejected looking patrons missing half their footwear at the end of the night).
If anyone ever said smoking too much weed makes you complacent and lazy, they haven’t seen The Bennies live. These guys will stop at nothing to get every single person moving and screaming.
Check out Britt’s full gallery HERE
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What’s Ya Fucken Problem?
Party Till I Die