Return to White Chairs Volume 3 rocked the Triffid in Brisbane on Sunday night. It was a trip down Brisbane punk memory lane, with 10 bands on the line-up set to a back drop of images and old gig posters from way back when. The event was a fundraiser for the Growing Nepal Foundation.
White Chairs was a public bar at the back of what was Elizabeth Street’s Carlton Hotel – it was the centre of Brisbane’s punk and music counter-culture for about a decade from the late 1970s. Fast forward to 2021 and here in The Triffid the punters are pretty much a room full of 60 year olds who have refused to grow up, just like the bands they came to see.
Kicking off at about 2pm with Tangled Shoelaces, then Delirium Seeds – this reviewer/photographer arrived just as Square Tugs erupted into their loud, stomping 80s style American hardcore punk sounds. Singer “Davey Boy Tug” has a stage presence like a more muscular, aggressive Dave Grohl.
The least punk of the line-up are Ipswich band The Colours, who fit more into the same category of, perhaps The Church. And not just musically, as band members wear paisley shirts. Hey, they even have a song called ‘Blue Shirt’ – this became a 4ZZZ radio favourite in the early 80s as an anti-police song. It’s punk song then right? Not really, but the sentiment is there. They play wonderfully melodic 80s indie pop and offer a more chilled out set than all the others.
Next up is the awesome Mick Medew and Ursula, the power couple of Brisbane’s indie scene who do the best cover ever of Gary Numan’s Cars. Mick is former Screaming Tribesman frontman and also performs later in the evening with his band.
La Fetts have been around since Premier Joh Bjelke Petersen ruled Queensland with an iron fist, and their angsty songs don’t seem to have mellowed. True performers with more energy than they should have, this is the point in the early evening where The Triffid starts buzzing. Frontman Budge Page has everyone up dancing as he poses for the cameras and flings his arms around and points out to the crowd with intensity like a true showman. He jumps off the stage, gives the audience members the mic to yell into and before you know it, it’s on to the next act.
Time for some female energy after all of that testosterone! Next is ’70s-’80s garage punk surf inspired three-piece Koko Uzi who team up with some of the Brisbane scene’s major female forces to present the Women In Brisbane Music Tribute, featuring Lindy Morrison of the Go Betweens on drums. AMAZING! They even do a cover of the X-Ray Spex classic Oh Bondage Up Yours!
Toxic Garden Gnomes are rated highly by Powderfinger and are mentioned in Time Off as one of the best live bands in Australia. They’re another power 3 piece and they are really tight! What a powerful sound for just 3 guys.
The Skeletones also fly the flag for Ipswich bands, and they pretty much rip up the place with their intensity and humourous jibes at friends in the audience and even more so, a band member who can’t make it onto the stage because he hasn’t got proof of his COVID jabs! Poor guy is stuck outside, but the show must go on! And they put on a hell of a show indeed, even dragging Ursula up for a song.
Mick Medew, Brian Mann, Michael Charles and Lois Andrews are Mick Medew and the Mesmerisers and they close the show. With their 60s style power rock/pop, the dance floor is full and the vibes are good. Frontman Mick is a seasoned musician and it shows – he honestly comes across as one of those guys who couldn’t do anything else but what he does. He lives and breathes it.
Every single band on this line-up were rock solid – not sure who has been rehearsing and who hasn’t, but you would never know some of these guys are over 60 and have been in bands since the 70s. Maybe that’s the very reason why they are so good. Punk was never meant to be mainstream, but these accomplished musicians with awesome energy should be heard by more than a couple of hundred people on a Sunday night in Brisbane.