Selling out within weeks of going on sale, there must have been a tour manager keen to get some of the packed-out club vibe going since this line-up could have sold out the Hi Fi. Setting the sweaty scene are Frottera, a sun-born throwback blast of Cali-punk. Actually roadies for the headliners, the band are hilariously exuberant and anyone turning up to Melbourne in shorts in July deserves every cheer they get. The rapidly filling venue like their style, but the (exclamation) point is made by the 30-minute mark.
Teenage Mothers follow and, though they seem to be making the right moves and noises, there is a sense of emptiness to what they do. Individually good musicians, their Black Angels-style psych rock is a simple and effective sound, but the music feels utterly meaningless and devoid of any integrity. While some in the audience respond warmly, there is an overwhelming sense of deflation to their surprisingly short set.
Thankfully, the loud and dumb punk rock of Bleeding Knees Club arrives to resurrect anything you might have been missing from 80s-90s pop punk and wanted spat back in your face. Tight and with pithy riffs, the crowd stand and watch, which sucks the music of most if its power, but songs like I Just Wanna Have Fun, and Teenage Girls take the identikit punk structure and kick it around while remaining infuriatingly catchy. A surprise cover of Bohemian Like You sits nicely but does show then up and raise the question as to why they don’t make their songs just a little more interesting, but then the closing song and recent single Feel is peerless pop punk and epitomises all they do best.
By the time Palma Violets arrive the venue seems to have turned into the Elephant and Wheelbarrow with British accents filling the thick air. Bursting out with some full force pub rock boogie, there is a rare sense of fury and intent to their set, but, as on their debut 180, it still sounds distant and thunderous rather than bright and punchy. The guitar mixed low and keyboards softening the textures, it’s left to hyperactive bassist Chilli Jesson to drive the songs visually and musically. While their set jumps from one garage rock anthem to the next, it’s the genius of their single Best of Friends, and it’s monumental chorus that gives their set it’s fist-pumping highlight. Step Up For the Cool Cats is another cracker and We Found Love simmers, but it’s the sheer attitude that wiry and saturated Jesson exudes that is the real drawcard. Lighting up a fag mid-set and later crowdsurfing to the back of the room are both rarities at the NSC. Closing with the rousing 14 and encoring with Brand New Song, it’s the energy and bravado they bring to the standard rock chord progressions they spin through that so impresses, and still leaves the sense that the best is to come.