The Gasometer, 16/03/2013
Hell-bent on punishing those who didn't bring earplugs, tonight’s lineup wrestle punk from history and blast away its more polished proponents in a three-way match of guitar-driven intensity. Perth trio Foam know how to construct a fearsome riff and deliver it with unerring accuracy, particularly when playing tracks off their new EP Run Kon Koma; a coursing, fizzling howl of vitality and rage. Most of the set sounds (and looks) like underground Seattle shows in the late 80s, though with a far more static crowd. Between incredibly tight bursts of guttural punk, singer Joel Martin cracks decent jokes that seem to embarrass his bandmates, though their sense of humour rarely seems to (discernibly) break into their songs. The slower So Far So Good highlights Martin's American twang and closes a set that acts as a road map of sorts to an underground Perth.
Sydney's Step-Panther sneak on second despite being the big draw, and though less relentless, they're no less a ferocious unit. Launching their Dream Crusher EP they open with Nowhere and Never Again, singer Steve Bourke's vocals gleaning a tinge of reverb and his Danelectro shooting sparks as spiralling riffs and dexterous lead runs push up against the beat, urging the songs forward. Maybe Later is ridiculously catchy and makes it's easy to see why NME picked them as one of 2013's Bands to Watch (something you can be sure means absolutely nothing to the small but riotous crowd here). Bourke’s songs channel a very bright cataclysmic euphoric despondency and feature some truly inspired guitar work. Closing with the brilliant loathing of Zombi and its despondent chant of 'I hope this summer never ends', they’re one of the smartest bands to play dumb.
Wax Witches meanwhile don't play anything but fast, hard and as if nothing’s sacred. 'This is my friend Josh. He plays drums,’ says singer and guitarist Alex Wall. ‘We started this band two days ago,' he lies happily. Launching their Celebrity Beatings LP the duo pull Ramones count-ins, Black Flag riffs, Dead Kennedys sneers and a Pixies cover (Wave of Mutilation) - whatever it takes to make a killer show. Despite having a lot of fun expressing a snotty disregard for everything, the band have an almost Reatardian way with brevity, melody and knowing when the job's done. Seemingly still in early days (despite the band being Wall’s side-project from Bleeding Knees Club), they almost seem to be playing to each other at times, which doesn’t stop the small, vocal but self-conscious crowd draw closer to the stage and head-banging; 'you might be a small crowd but it doesn't mean you're any less of a crowd than any other crowd' Wall says in mock seriousness. Nightmares sounds like it could be a Germs cover, so masterful is its simplicity. Crashing cymbals, constant riffs and perpetual speed, Wax Witches bring levity to their heaviness, as songs like Gay Batman, Everytime I Try and Fuck Shit Up amply prove. So good, it was almost like the Arthouse in here tonight.