This past Wednesday Mississippi Studios in Portland, Oregon welcomed Australian punk band CIVIC with opening support from locals Cut Piece. CIVIC is on their first U.S. tour in support of the sophomore album Taken by Force. The Australian’s bringing a throwback punk sound, that has sounds of fast paced bands of the late 70’s while mixing in the more lyrical and rhythm that came with new wave of the 80’s.
Singer Jim McCullough commands the stage with an unrelenting energy, constantly in motion as he performs. The rest of CIVIC injects a breath of fresh air into the punk scene, not solely relying on heavy distorted guitars and break-neck speed drum beats. While CIVIC provides classic punk rock elements of raspy screamed lyrics and face-paced jams, each song still offers something different. Effortlessly transitioning from melodic lyrics accompanied by clean guitar riffs, with McCullough at times slowing his singing to a near spoken word pace, over a backdrop of distortion and upbeat drums.
A song that really stood out to me with McCullough introducing as the bands closest thing to a ballad – in a set of songs coming in under 3 minutes, “Trick of the Light” clocks in at just over 5 minutes. The song tells a story of a passionate trip out to the country, where two lovers connect in an act of adultery. McCullough’s haunting vocals, brings you along on the tale of a man, who doesn’t see the woman as anymore than the one night stand. He does not feel the same shame as the woman has for what they have done in the day that follows. The song is slower than the others played in their set, but doesn’t lose it’s edge like you would expect from a ballad, with a distorted guitar solo to finish building on the tension of the story that had just unfolded.
The night went by quickly, with those who came out to see the band thoroughly enjoying the mid week punk show. People were moving and jumping along with the band through out the night, chanting along with the choruses that were easy to pick up. CIVIC will be finishing the last couple nights of the U.S. tour this week, before returning home to Australia in November, finishing out the year in Europe this December. A full list of dates can be found on the bands website.