The Rock Against Work Show
08.11.05 @ The Tote, Collingwood, Melbourne
Much of the buzz around the Melbourne tour circuit has been about several big productions set to rake in the cash and fill the stadiums in the coming months. Green Day, Jimmy Eat World, Coldplay, U2- just some of the big names set to take the stage. It has been about mammoth shows where tickets sell out in mere hours, where buildings are converted to accommodate lavish artist demands, and where the glitz and glam of the rock star world takes center stage. All is well, unless of course, you’re aging punk rockers from New Hampshire. So goes the story of the Queers– who for the first time in their 20+ years of making Beach Boys influenced Ramonesy punk, are making a trek down to Australia for a salvo of shows. And it’s about damn time.
There was no high-end advertising campaign, no radio promotion, and no big bus welcoming committee. Instead, The Queers arrive in Australia thanks in large part to local punk rockers Mach Pelican– and settle in to the decrepit looking, but more than capable Tote to a slew of apathetic bar patrons, dirty bathrooms, and more than two decades worth of tunes ready for their first Australian go-around.
“What kind of punk rock show starts at 6pm?”
My thoughts exactly. Nonetheless, the Rock Against Work show kicked off its 4-band bill at a very early hour with The Gingers and the Sons of Lee Marvin. We missed both of them because empty stomachs needed to be filled. However, we did arrive at the venue early enough to catch Joe Queer milling about the Tote with a few new friends. The boys of Mach Pelican played late, with drummer Toshi chatting away with two of his lady friends in front of me before he realized the rest of the band were on stage waiting for him. Originally from Japan, this trio plays no-frills Ramones type punk sounding very similar to the headliners they brought over. They were fast, furious, and well, I didn’t understand a single word they said, save “…with the Beach Boys on my radio.” Subtitles would’ve helped but Mach Pelican, in all their Engrish glory, were more than capable of holding their own.
Much like the tour itself, with absolutely no glamour to speak of, the Queers spent their pre-set time on-stage doing all the jobs roadies and tech assistants are supposed to. The crowd lingered forward and soon enough, the Queers had the capacity crowd (a hundred or so) in a pogo-frenzy. With an extensive catalogue, they relentlessly ripped through great numbers like “No Tit,” “Ursula Finally Has Tits,” “I Only Drink Bud,” “Ben Weasel,” and “Fuck This World,” only occasionally engaging the crowd with the mandatory ‘thanks’ and middle-finger salutations. They closed out their “set” with the Ben Weasel/Joey Ramone co-penned “I Wanna Be Happy” before opening the floor to requests (most of which were met with “We can’t play that” and “Fuck no!”).
With over 25+ songs (best estimates) and over an hour and a half on stage, all the years of waiting were undoubtedly worth the wait. Post show shenanigans? Nope- just back to milling around, drinking beer, and packing up for the next one. It goes without saying; but the show was, as they say, “grouse” (look it up). Rock stars can have their pomp and glory, because at least for one night, we all cheered, “Fuck the world! We’re hanging out with The Queers tonight.”