Fireballs, Collins Class, Stereo Addicts, The Dirty F Holes
Surfers Paradise Beer Garden.
14th February, 2013.
By Sam Vinall.
I remember back in the 90’s, the Fireballs toured my home town of Adelaide on countless occasions. Back when every Life Saving Club, Football Club and anywhere that had electricity and room for a crowd was turned into a venue every week. Those times as made up some of the best nights of my life. I don’t know how, but throughout that whole era, I never saw the Fireballs play live. Of course, people never knew that, because if they did I would have constantly been told how awesome they were. I’m only admitting it now because I rectified the problem on St. Commercialised Spend Your Money on Stupid Gifts and Cards Day, some people call it Valentines Day.
I arrived half an hour after doors opened so I wouldn’t miss opening act, The Dirty F Holes as I’d heard nothing but good things about them. The crowd was still quite thin when they took to the stage, but The Dirty F Holes still put everything they had into their performance. They didn’t seem phased by the fact that their audience was mainly seated except when people would hear them from the bar and go and check them out. They had a stomping, sometimes swampy rockabilly sound that was present in all of their songs. One thing I firmly believe is that if a band can play with as much energy as the Dirty F Holes did, with such a transient crowd, they love what they’re doing. They’re just five friends who love playing live to whoever wants to listen. Their set gained momentum towards the end with the last three songs definitely being the most energetic and entertaining.
The next band on the bill were completely different in every way. Whereas The Dirty F Holes just smashed out a set of rock with no pretence or image. Stereo Addicts played what I’d describe as a precise set, with a lot of their energy being spent on putting forth an image, and playing in the most professional manner possible. Their songs were well crafted, and often really catchy. In regard to songs and musicianship, I couldn’t fault them. Every solo was nailed, every harmony was sweet. The band played as a tight unit. They all had very high end equipment, and this was reflected in their sound.
Unfortunately, as a punter, I couldn’t feel any energy coming from the Stereo Addicts. It was almost like a perfectly executed rehearsal. The singer/guitarist was wearing a hat for the entire set, and there was so little movement or visual stimuli that I don’t even think it needed readjusting once. Their songs were strong, and their skill level was very high. If I could offer the Stereo Addicts one piece of advice it would be to save perfection for rehearsal, and then rock the hell out of the stage and involve the audience at live shows. They’re a great band, and I mean this as constructive criticism, because I can see them becoming really successful. However one thing that a band should never do in between songs is sacrifice crowd interaction with a two minute drum solo. That’s just not cool.
By the time Collins Class hit the stage, the steadily growing crowd was becoming more excited and perhaps inebriated. The three piece set up on stage with the drummer front and centre, sporting a clear perspex kit. I was ready for something different, and that’s what I got. Collins Class were ragged in their approach, but awesome to watch. Led by the drummer, they ploughed through a set of tunes that were definitely structured, but within that structure there was a lot of room allowed for some funky break downs and jam sections. You could tell that they were having a great time playing, with knowing looks being thrown between band members throughout the set. Collins Class drew a lot of the crowd down to the front of the stage. A lot of whom stayed, readying themselves to jostle for a good position for when the Fireballs took over. In between the jammed sections where the drummer had his sticks waving above his head, I notice a few understated beats dropped which I loved. Nice work.
As much as I’ve said about the support acts, when the Fireballs hit the stage the atmosphere completely changed. The front of the stage was flooded. From the first song the crowd was either dancing, skanking or just watching with a smile on their face. The Fireballs have had so much experience playing live, they kept the crowd going right up until the end. With gang vocals, searing solos and a tight as hell rhythm section, the Fireballs erased the barrier between the themselves and the crowd. It all just became one sweaty mess. I didn’t know that they had a stand up drummer which really impressed me, but one thing I did know was that they had a double bass with it’s percussive slap almost defining their sound. Most songs switched between slower rock sections and blistering psychobilly action, the crowd loved it. I hadn’t done any skanking for a good ten years, but they even sucked me in… Until I fell over a couple of times. But as the old school rule states: If you see someone down, pick them up.
I don’t think anyone left disappointed, maybe sore and drunk, but not disappointed. Most importantly, I can now say that I’ve seen the Fireballs play live, and I understand why they have the following they do. The Fireballs owned the night and were well supported be the other acts. I should’ve seen them play a long time ago. But as they say, better late than never. And yes, if you were wondering, the hair was still pointed skyward. Unnaturally skyward.