Sandringham Hotel, Newtown, NSW
Saturday, November 8, 2010

Pictures: THE BARMAN

I always cringe when reviewers miss the first band. It’s poor form. Nonetheless, I missed The Escapes driving around the back streets of Enmore looking for a fucking carpark. So I’ll lay another turd on the tired old reviewing cliché and say: “Word around was that they were pretty good, and that I’d missed out”.

Sorry guys, I’ll catch you next time.

First things first. This was the first gig I’d been to in the new band room at the Sando.

Yes, it was fucking hot. (Don’t worry they have since got the air-con going, whingers). And yes, it sounds fucking great.

I come from the backwoods of Lismore, Northern NSW folks. I didn’t swing into town until 1998 so I missed the Sando in it’s “heyday”. Thus, what the Sando has always meant to me is this…..

A pokey little upstairs room, where people went to hear the PA cut out when the volume of the band started to drown out the whines of “ya shoulda been here in ’92 man”.

In short, for a while now, it’s been a pretty lame place to see a band. Happy to say that it’s now just about the best gig in town.

Onto the bands I did actually see.

The Snoozefests: The first thing that struck me about these guys is that the three of them looked like they were from three different bands.

The second thing that struck me, which was once they’d started playing, was that they fucking cook. Guitarist/vocalist Jake Robertson has got some serious chops, the kid can wail!

Plenty of great garage/rock originals followed, as well as a couple of covers from Master’s Apprentices (“War Or Hands Of Time”) and Dead Kennedys (“Let’s Lynch The Landlord”).

I bought their album, you should too.

Next up were La Mancha Negra. These guys belt out that certain strand of surfy-swamp Rock n Roll that relies pretty heavily on the American folklore that first spawned it. Nothing wrong with that mind you, but you better fucking bring it off, otherwise you come off like kids playing dress ups.

There’s gotta be some connection there to make it relevant right? I mean there ain’t too many swamps in Sydney.

I just wasn’t a believer.

So my take on them was this, a pretty competent band (with definitely some of the meanest sounding harp playing I’ve heard in a while!), but sadly with no real personality of their own. I hate to say it, but another in a long list of bands aping The Cramps and not much else.

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve seen The Intercontinental Playboys. It’s always a pleasure though.

They are some suave motherfuckers. The came onstage and the guys starting holding their gal’s hands just that little bit tighter.

They blasted through a set made up mostly of tracks from their recent “Hymns Of The Flesh” slab, all without breaking a sweat in temps that were oven hot.

Apart from the charisma, the thing that makes these guys stand out is the sonic barrage that comes from Ben’s guitar and the double up of the rhythm/bass on the organ. It’s just one mass wall of sound, and not in some lame Phil Spector sort of way, more of a “I can feel that in my balls” kind of way.

The turn out was so so but that’s to be expected when the venue still hadn’t officially opened.

No such excuse now, go check out the Sando.