This weekend, the second Australian Download Festival is upon us in Sydney and Melbourne. For those of us not travelling, never fear, as vagabonds, crooners and divas alike descend on our fair state in the shape of punk immortals Me First And The Gimme Gimmes.
Opening the proceedings this evening are Adelaide three piece rockers Surviving Sharks. Coming on in rather under-stated fashion, no big musical entrance, the guys settle in and go for it. Guitarist and main vocalist Drew Kemp leads the way with the short snap guitar riffage reminiscent of Californian punk. Helping out on vocals is drummer Sean Kemp and bassist Josh Biggs as the band tear through a hefty set list of delightful warm summer feeling sounds to the small but appreciate crowd.
Melbourne’s Von Stache continue the punk vibe of the night, starting while no one was watching. They soon noticed though, as the band tore into their version of upbeat punk . Bassist Sofi twirls and headbangs throughout the setlist which is delivered at a frantic pace. Without a breath passing, the band have tore through five numbers led by Saspot on vocals and guitars and held together by drummer Slick. In true punk fashion, it’s aggressive, loose, wild yet coherent as the now mostly full room enjoy the energy brought to the room.
For those that don’t know, Me First And The Gimme Gimmes are a punk super group of sorts. With members in their history ranging from Lagwagon, NoFX and Foo Fighters, they are as glamorous as they are kitsch. The irony and humour is what this band is about and you either get it or don’t.
With a golden backdrop reminiscing of 70’s American chat shows, the boys take to the stage in matching satin dark pink shirts complete with white trousers and belt straight into a punk version of Cher’s Believe.
With Bad Religion’s Jay Bentley on Bass playing the nervous, A.D.D. afflicted silent comedy partner to vocalist Spike Slawson’s cool glitzy Vegas showman, it’s a show visually compelling as the sound.
Everyone is covered; Paul Simon, John Denver, Dolly Parton you name them, it was done. Hell even Oprah Winfrey was covered! Famous for saying before every song ‘this one is a cover’, Slawson decides to point out members of the crowd and screams ‘You get a cover! You get a cover! You get a cover! We all get a cover!’
The crowd surfers are in force and the audience love it as the sing along to that punk classic Karma Chameleon before another cover Heart Of Glass by Blondie is performed.
Tracks like Leaving On A Jet Plane and especially Uptown Girl are played with precision and actually honour the originals. While the band may be a parody of sorts, they are excellent musicians who do these songs justice. Just in a fun punk style.
The Gimmes are a good time punk band. You go to watch these guys, get drunk, laugh and even if you’re an old school scary looking punk, you can still belt out Jolene knowing everyone else around you is too. We all have a little diva inside us after all, so go watch these guys, throw your inhibitions away and let the diva sing.
Live Review By Iain McCallum