Against a backdrop of sheets decorated like a busier, ruder version of the cover of the Chipmunk Punk album, Scott and Charlene’s Wedding chatter as they gather. The room fills in minutes as the band begin barreling through their set. From behind a straggly curtain of blonde hair, singer and songwriter Craig Dermody leads the band through a rambling, glorious clutch of songs with local classics Two Weeks and Gammy Leg the high points. Sipping from his pint and grinning at guitarist Gill Tucker as if to say ‘hey, nice one!’ they finish on the moronic genius of Karen.
Playing what seems their hundredth Melbourne show, The UV Race is a six-strong army channeling the arty mayhem of Melbourne's Little Band Scene of the early 80s. Fittingly for a band that sounds as though they've not listened to any music post 1983 their songs are emboldened with a vitality missing from much modern music. Like a house party started then abandoned by Mark E Smith, the packed room carries the friendly intensity bursting from the stage.
After a lengthy break, and to a crowd now wild with anticipation, leather-clad pretty-boy Seth Bogart arrives on stage and smiles. “We're Hunx and His Punx and we're from California”.
Opening with You Don’t Like Rock and Roll the band’s fusion of lovable 50s rock and roll and a gay-punk aesthetic is so bold and brash and the audience so on-side it’s near impossible to resist. “Ha! I know you!” laughs Bogart pointing at someone in the front row. It seems the whole room wishes they were that person. “This goes out to acne survivors” he says introducing Bad Skin before blasting through the “political song” Everyone’s a Pussy (Fuck You Dude) in ten seconds.
Reveling in a style-over-substance brand of raw rock and roll, the simpering brilliance of Bogart (“this song is called…Bad Boy” he smiles to no one in particular) is a powerful force. Older songs like Gimme Gimme Back Your Love and newer track Mud in Your Eyes show a musical adventurousness bordering on the non-existent, each short, sheared anthem of defiance another sermon to the converted. The Curse of Being Young, and another “political” blast of sub 30-second hormonal angst Don’t Call Me Fabulous are further examples of carefully-crafted, perfectly rendered Punk RockTM, just like the cartoonish backdrop they play before. The homosexual overtones are charming, funny, like a younger brother putting on a family show, and they’re just as impossible to dislike.
Returning with a reconfigured lineup as Shannon and the Clams, this trio, lead by Punx bassist Shannon Shaw is tighter, punchier, and more about the song than the look. Once a three-song set has been heckled out of them (including the killer I Don’t Want to be in a Cult No More), and Hunx has fled the stage to the merch desk, the audience, still thirsty for more, flop toward each other, grinning like stroked cats.