In the ’90s, Australia’s love affair with local no frills pub rock bands expanded to embrace “alternative” rockers Silverchair, as well as eclectic acts like Spiderbait and industrial rock rabble rousers, Insurge. There was an alternative rock revolution going on around the world at this time.
Doubtless, the most popular act of the weirder fringe of Aussie ’90s rock were Brisbane smart arses, Regurgitator. The ‘Gurge began life as a punky guitar band, but by the time of the release of their hit second album, Unit (1998), they’d incorporated hip hop, electronica, funk, you name it, into a gloriously eccentric, snotty-nosed melting pot.
Since the the early noughties they have produced fantastic albums Love and Paranoia (2007) and Dirty Pop Fantasy (2013) and just the other day they dropped a new long player Headroxx, which I’ve been listening to it relentlessly; it’s a ripper.
I’ve seen the ‘Gurge play live many times over the years. Most of the time they were good and you’d leave pleased you came. Occasionally, they were mind-blowing and you’d tell your mates later how much better they were than the huge American band you saw the week before. On one or two occasions, I nearly walked out of their shows. They were sloppy, unfocused and it seemed unlikely they’d rehearsed. Which Regurgitator would perform at the Metro on this cold August night?
Our minds weren’t blown, but Regurgitator delivered a strong set. A couple of songs had false starts but that only added to the charm of the show. The core of the trio, Quan Yeomans and Ben Ely, divided vocal duties and a couple of times swapped instruments (bass for guitar).
The band emerged to a tape of the title track of Headroxx wearing giant monster masks and dancing to the retro groove. Strapping on their instruments and throwing away their masks, the band launched into the excellent Roxx for Brains, from the new album.
The set was largely drawn from the new record and cuts from Unit and their first disc, Tu Plang. They’ve dubbed their current trek around the country the ‘Warning: This is an actual simulation’ tour and that snappy insight into the absurdity of post-modern life has always been a trademark of the band.
Their ability to write catchy tunes has consistently been paired with the biting satire of their lyrics. Song introductions have always been apt too, and last night at the Metro was no exception. Before striking the riff to I sucked a lot of cock to get where I am, Quan asked the audience, So, what’s Sydney been like lately?
Headroxx could be described as being evenly split between guitar driven punk tunes (with plenty of synth layering) and out and out dance numbers. That has been a dynamic of the band for some time, but live, the synth lines are mostly replaced by guitar riffs. Only favourites such as ! (Song Formerly Known as) and a few others are as electronic live as they are on record. An obvious explanation for this is that they are without a keyboard player these days.
Aside from the aforementioned ! (Song Formerly Known as), highlights of the evening were Kong Foo Sing, the cute Blubber Boy and the gloriously nihilistic No Point from the new album.
Photo: Regurgitator at the Metro Theatre last night via Facebook
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