Punk music has been strangely maligned in the modern music industry, especially here in Australia over the past ten years. However it was hard to resist its reckless charms as some of Australia’s best punk and hardcore bands took to the stage at the ever-exclusive Freemason’s Hall; playing host to the inaugural and undeniably inclusive, Stonecutters Mini-Festival Saturday night.
Boasting one of the best local rock and punk line-ups seen in recent times, it was left to young upstarts Tall Enough To See to kick off proceedings. Playing first to a steadily growing crowd is never easy but they strode confidently through a set of short jarring punk originals accentuated by unashamed energy and enthusiasm. Finishing the set with a cover of FIDLAR’s ‘40oz. On Repeat’ was unnecessary considering the quality of their original material but it can be forgiven. The lads more than proved their worth.
As the crowd built and the drinks flowed, local lads Young Offenders took to the stage to prove why they’re one of Adelaide’s best kept secrets. With a snarling British style of punk reminiscent of The Clash, with a cheeky touch of Arctic Monkeys - Young Offenders barrelled through a set driven by undeniable stage presence. As the set grew to a crescendo, a classy cover of Billy Brag’s ‘New England’ brought about one of the highlights of the festival. A heartfelt and understated cover accentuating the musical prowess of the band. They had a sizeable fan-base in attendance but that performance will sure bring a slew of new fans. Definitely a band to keep an ear and eye out for.
With the late withdrawal of Sincerely, Grizzly being the only major let-down of the night, a brief interlude was interrupted by raucous two-piece The Hard Aches. With the crowd swelling and bodies starting to move vigorously at the front of the barrier-less stage, The Hard Aches quipped about university lectures on Monday morning in the hall while bringing the energy up a notch. Recently signed to Poison City Records, Horror My Friend treated the faithful crowd to a generous preview of their upcoming debut album. With soaring shoe-gaze tones, it sounds exactly like the best of Horror My Friend.
As the room swelled to capacity and members of Bad//Dreems and West Thebarton Brothel Party mingled freely around the room, it was time for God God Damnit Damnit to unleash the big guns. With ten members overflowing the tiny stage, bodies flying on to stage and crowd surfers going up incessantly, the Adelaide funk/punk outfit were the standout performers on a night of highlights. The horn section provided the perfect focal point while the band worked the crowd in to a frenzie of sweat. Hightime had the tough job of taking the stage after the generously-sized punk gang and did a superb job with their legion of loyal fans. With bodies falling on to stage and unplugging lead singer Nina McCann’s mic and amp, she jumped wilfully into the pit for a crowd surf. Anarchy at its best.
A long wait saw Bad//Dreems finally take to the stage and knock out a set which is already starting to feel as comfortable and well-worn as an old flannie. Playing a mixture of new and old, the locals certainly drew the biggest and most attentive crowd of the night. ‘Dumb Ideas’ brought the front row on to the stage and behind the microphone to help out lead singer Ben Marwe. Old favourites ‘Caroline’, ‘My Only Friend’ and ‘Hoping For’ all got a run while ‘Cuffed and Collard’ and ‘Bogan Pride’ showed by their debut album Dogs at Bay is a must-listen.
As the night drew long and the crowd began to dissipate, understated Melbourne punks The Peep Tempel took to the stage. Delivering a menacing set comprising mainly of the criminally under-appreciated album Tales, the boys delivered a bruising set with business-like precision. Australian classic ‘Carol’ brought Ben Marwe back out to the front of the pit as the last of the enthusiastic punters moshed away. With the vocals almost inaudible it was left to the front row and bass player to drive the set, with ‘Big Fish’ proving a set highlight.
The Freemason’s Hall provided a great space for Stonecutters, with the size of the room both comfortably spacious (and also small enough) to capture the manic energy of both the bands and the crowd. Though what the room provided in surroundings, it did not necessarily provide in sound quality, with the echoing noise making vocals almost inaudible at certain points during the night. That being said, it was a punk festival – only a loud and abrasive mix would do and it was exactly that.
Adelaide ultimately lives and dies in the success of small events like Stonecutters. Saturday night proved what too few people already knew – Adelaide and Australia are home to some utterly superb live bands.
We need more events like Stoncutters to appreciate them.
Header and gallery photos courtesy of the AU Review and Lauren Connelly.