Peep Tempel — Estonian House (Melbourne, February 18)

Going to Estonian House for a gig reminds me of the time I got into a cab and the driver insisted I looked Estonian and therefore must be. It must be that pasty Irish potato face I guess, but it always amused me that he was so certain. The Shadow Electric people from the Convent in Abbotsford have expanded their reach, using this old theatre in West Brunswick as a new venue. It’s a great space, easy to see from everywhere, large, but not too much, and the sound crawls into your skin.

On an ominous note, Ausmuteants could be clearly heard from way down the street on my way in, so that may not augur well for the sorts of acts that played tonight.  We caught their last few pieces, belting through their songs in two minutes flat. Good ‘ole speed punk, that drummer had better watch his wrists — they wear out if you keep that pace up…..maybe rock isn’t dead yet, there are still young bands pounding away at it the hard way, singing out their anger.

Their next gig is in Ballarat, and I like their promotional vibe: “if you…write a blog or try to use wit in everyday conversation, please do not contact Ausmuteants in anyway or attend this event”. Gold. I feel like we’ll see more of these guys.

They were just a warm up for the Peep Tempel in every way, after the usual between bands break, refill and clamber for a position in the crush. The Peeps hark back to a lot of golden Oz bands, lashings of the Cosmic Pyschos, Birdman and the like.

They combine a wry, dry, very Australian sense of humour with a blistering eight  to the bar bassline, buzz sawing guitars and rock solid drumming. They really remind me of a bunch of tradies fresh off the job site, getting together to bang down a few beers and yell down a storm in their mates garage, except they’re so damn good at it.

Singer/guitarist/founder Blake Scott slams through the songs, pausing between to throw caustic comments at million dollar McMansions with freeway views in West Brunswick, cops (the night’s theme with it being one of Ausmuteants’ songs too) and more. His playing is counterintuitively delicate, pickless, his fingers stroking the strings delicately while the resultant noise blisters the paint off the ceiling. It’s a great contrast.

The set list is fluid, driven by whatever-they-damn-well-feel-like-playing and the odd request. So there are some new songs (they are going to the studio soon to record their third album), old faves and stuff they haven’t played forever — “this is the first song we wrote”. Carol is a highlight as expected, everyone singing along “…and I don’t think Trevor is good for you , Carol”.

On the rock’s not dead note, this is one of the few gigs I’ve seen in a while with a fully functioning mosh pit in front of the stage, a bounding, heaving, writhing mass of mostly male flesh, feet occasionally rising overhead and crowdsurfing. The Tempel deliver a good mix of short, fast deadly beats for the pit, leavened with some ever so slightly slower numbers for a breather. Sweaty, disheveled faces appear from time to time, making a break for the bar to refuel.

A mess of feedback signals the end of the set, and they’re back for two more furious chops, genuinely appreciating the hometown crowd and saying good bye ’til spring.

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