Since the release of their debut album The Rhapsody Tapes, Melbourne’s Ocean Grove have been on a rampage. Selling out venues like The Corner, and touring with bands such as Architects, Limp Bizkit, Crossfaith, and The Amity Affliction, the last two and a half years has been a wild ride. This all looked to be in jeopardy earlier this year, as it was announced that vocalist Luke Holmes and guitarist Jimmy Hall would be departing the band.
They had been there from the start, and them leaving was a massive deal. Ocean Grove played their final set with Luke and Jimmy at Unify The Gathering 2019 but were insistent that this was the beginning of a brand new chapter for OG. Bass player and clean vocalist Dale Tanner would proceed to step up to become their frontman, while former member of The Beverly Chills, Twiggy Hunter, would join the band to play bass. Having only completed a tour with Hands Like Houses with this new lineup (that I was unable to attend), I was excited to see how this new lineup would work for the band. So when they announced the Ask For The Anthem Tour I couldn’t wait to check them out.
Opening the show was recent UNFD signing, Sleep Talk. A few weeks off the release of their debut album Everything In Colour, they clearly had something to prove. People flowed in more as the set continued, as they played their popular songs “Slowfade”, “If I Die”, and “The Sun”. The drummer was a highlight of the set, as the extra spice he put on their songs with extra fills, and by mixing up the beat, made everything so much more interesting. They ended their set with “Everything In Colour”, and received a joyful reaction from the audience, who appeared to enjoy themselves.
Next up was Melbourne rockers Public High. A new act for me, their dose of powerful rock was an interesting change of pace for the show. Their riff-heavy songs involved a whole lot of dancing and hair swinging and rounded out with catchy verses and choruses that planted a smile on the face of everyone watching. The vocalist was armed with a powerful sense of stage presence (and a powerful head of hair) and did not disappoint as he marched around the stage and unleashed his passionate vocals. They made sure everyone was good and warm for Ocean Grove.
The penultimate act of the night was the punk rock trio from Queensland, Something Something Explosion. Their classic punk sound was also an interesting addition to the bill and continues the sense of musical genre diversity that has been present throughout every support act so far. Moving around the stage as they played and making sure the crowd was awake, their high energy performance demonstrated just how coherent they are at playing their music. The pace changed dramatically however, when towards the end of their set the bass player left the stage, and the main vocalist/guitarist and the drummer performed their rendition of the popular Slipknot song “Snuff”. This was the chance for vocalist Grace Drummond to show her stuff, as her incredible vocal range tore Howler a new one. Hitting the high notes and absolutely nailing the cover, she did the song every ounce of justice she could have done, and had the crowd up in arms in support of this. Producing a gigantic amount of applause of cheering, this version of “Snuff” is something I am dying to hear again. They finished their set with bass player Daimon joining them back on stage, as they smashed through their final few minutes of goddamn good punk rock.
The room filled quickly as Ocean Grove were about to begin, and there was a noticeable buzz of excitement running through the room. The members made their way onto the stage as they began to play “Ask For The Anthem”. Dale was the last one to enter and immediately dived into the crowd. His charisma is immediately noticeable. His mesmerizing vocals, quirky stage attire (a checkered cropped jacket, a Black Flag shirt, and a kilt), and incredible stage presence make it impossible to be looking anywhere else. Massive singalongs and dancing are already a mainstay from the enthusiastic audience, and is unrelenting as they play through “Glass Gloss” and “Intimate Alien”. Standing still is impossible, and the big smile on Dale’s face makes sure there is a matching one on everyone watching.
The lineup change is unnoticeable, and if anything, they sound better than they have in the past. “Mr Centipede” has been a favorite of mine since the release of The Rhapsody Tapes, and seeing it performed at its peak was an absolute treat. And goddamn if that riff after the chorus doesn’t get me going every time I hear it!
Dedicating this one to the oddballs and the weirdos, “The Wrong Way”, is met with an orchestra of supporting vocals from the audience. You can tell how special this show is to everyone involved. Dale proceeds to mention the importance of this tour and this show in particular and says how cool it is to have everyone here that is still with them. This leads into a cover of “My People” by The Presets. The thought of how well this song matches the OG vibe had never crossed my mind, but now I was seeing it, it made perfect sense. Dale continued to dance all around the stage, spinning and twirling his way through the bass-heavy track. Making sure that the aforementioned smile is still present, he climbs the side of the stage and just about hangs off the ceiling as he finishes the song.
“Slow Soap Soak” gets everyone bouncing and covered in beer, and leads into a brand-new song. Bouncy and atmospheric, it appears to be a cool take on the new OG sound. Twiggy features heavily in backing vocals, and oh boy I can’t wait for this to be released. Another one of my favorites “Thunderdome” features loud singalongs and a whole lot of movement from the crowd. It has been so good hearing Dale’s renditions of these songs. He adds his own flavor to each of them, and it makes Ocean Grove sound better than ever. This takes them off stage for about a minute as they are immediately met with chants of “WE WANT TWIGGY”. A change up from the traditional “ONE MORE SONG” it is a humorous change of pace. Returning to the stage, Dale says that this will be their last song, and promises that there is new music coming in a matter of months. “Stratosphere Love” closes the night, and puts the full stop on the best Ocean Grove set I have ever seen.
Check out the slideshow below for images from the Ocean Grove show:
All photos by Albert LaMontagne. Copyright 2019 Albert LaMontagne / Sound the Sirens Magazine. Please do not use or distribute these images without the permission of Albert LaMontagne. If you use these images without permission, you are a terrible person.
The Ritualists – Painted People
The Ritualists play some determined, strong-willed music
After listening to Painted People by The Ritualists, I was very surprised to learn that this is their debut album. This band shows a maturity in their music that I would not expect from a first album and provides inspirational sounding tracks with ‘reach for the stars’ type of guitar riffs. I hear a modern version of U2 in The Ritualists, along with an influence of Radiohead. Their songs are full, wholehearted post-punk hooks with a lead singer that has a sizeable range.
“Rattles” opens the album, and it’s the type of song that shows their audience that they are here to stay. It has a great build-up of excitement and intensity. The band explains that this song is “A combination of dark, deep-pocketed verses juxtaposed with big, flashy choruses is a key element to tracks”.
“Ice Flower” and “Worthiest One” welcomes an electronic wave to the album and showcases just how impressive lead singer Christian Dryden’s range is. His ability to hit those high notes with such conviction puts my falsetto abilities to shame. “Worthiest One” brings this sort of nostalgic feeling- it’s a rock ballad with a floaty guitar riff.
“She’s The Sun” is a great follow-on from “Worthiest One” as it transfers the mood upwards and directs the music into more of a hypnotic vision, which conveys “the band’s inner Sixties Love Child”. “I’m With The Painted People” has a really relatable background to the song. Dryden felt a larger than life inspiration from people like David Bowie and Simon Le Bon, these artists felt like soulmates, which can be lonely at times. It wasn’t until he ventured out into the clubs of the lower east side of New York which helped him feel comfortable to express his creative vision freely. The song is all about finding like-minded people.
There are hooks galore and catchy choruses in pretty much every song. “With this record, I’ve specifically tried to be anthemic,” admits Dryden. “I’ve always loved going to shows, where immediately after the performance, and even on the ensuing days after, you just can’t help but remember and sing the songs you’ve just heard. It’s almost like a higher form of communication.” The Ritualists play some determined, strong-willed music and Painted People shows hints of variations with different genres explored throughout. They sound motivated and in return have produced motivating music for their listeners.
The Decline – Flash Gordon Ramsay Street
What The Decline get absolutely spot-on is their clinical, unrelenting brand of skate punk
It’s possible that since punk broke through to the mainstream in the mid to late ’90s, listeners outside of Australia think Frenzal Rhomb are the only band to have come from the lucky country. It’s true that during the rise of that Epitaph and Fat Wreck sound, Frenzal Rhomb became the namesake of the genre from Australia. However, Australian punks know that their history stretches long before the release of Survival of the Fattest. From the legendary sounds of The Saints to the rock n’ roll infused punk of Radio Birdman, Australia’s punk rock history is not only rich but very much precedes the genre’s mainstream explosion.
Frenzal Rhomb were another chapter in punk down under and for many, they opened a lot of doors. If not at the very least, proved that there were fertile grounds for new bands to emerge across the vast land. Western Australia’s The Decline formed in 2005 and quickly showed their talent for writing up-tempo melodicore that shred as much as it soared. From their 2010 debut, I’m Not Gonna Lie To You, it was clear that the band were equal parts snotty, urgent, funny, and melodic. Like the Frenzal Rhomb formula, they’ve got all of it in spades with a mean streak of Australianness that is both endearing and extremely relatable. Their latest album is no different.
From the title alone you can tell you’re in for a shedload of fun, and while it’s easy to think that Flash Gordon Ramsay Street is just goofy humor, it’s actually got a lot of pointed commentary too. From the animal-supportin’, veggie-lovin’, attack on meatlovers and meatheads (“Brovine”), to the real-estate market questioning “Smashed Avo”, there’s plenty of current talking points that The Decline run through. Sure, you also get vegan buffalo wing recipes (surprisingly, not the song titled “Bullet With Buffalo Wings”) and a love for The Legend of Zelda, but who says you can’t sing about Marxist theories while talking about your love for Nintendo?
What The Decline get absolutely spot-on is their clinical, unrelenting brand of skate punk; taking plenty of cues from the best of the NOFX / No Fun At All up-tempo, hardcore-derived brand of punk. The hooks on Flash Gordon Ramsey Street are as infectious as horny teens on spring break, highlighted by the endless harmonies on songs like the terrific “It Was Always You” and the call and response male-female vocal attack of “Verge Collection”. Brevity is also key, as the majority of the songs here never overstay their welcome with the longest clocking in at just 3:15 (the wistful closing of “Josh”).
Flash Gordon Ramsey Street is concise, to-the-point, and a furious medley of skate punk urgency that is relevant to young adult life as punks in Australia. Great production values to boot mean you can’t go wrong here.