Back at a sold-out Bodega again last night, this time to experience one of Aussie punks Amyl and The Sniffers’ reportedly manic live shows. Hailing from Melbourne, the band kicked off their European tour in what they called ‘Notting-ham’ ahead of the release of their debut album in May, which signals a move in a slightly more professional direction after their recent signing to Rough Trade. Only slightly, but then again that’s not saying much; their 2016 EP, ‘Giddy Up’, was written, recorded and released in just 12 hours on a bit of a whim by housemates Amy Taylor (vocals), Bryce Wilson (drums), Declan Martens (guitar) and their mate Gus Romer (bass). Since then, they’ve released another EP (‘Big Attraction’) and toured in the UK and US as well as down under, but haven’t lost that DIY, devil-may-care attitude.
Support act TV Crime were well received by the packed room, delivering a powerful and succinct set to give the crowd a taste of the chaos to come. Despite it being the 1st of April, there was no fooling around; as soon as Amyl and The Sniffers took to the stage, they launched straight into fan favourite “I’m Not a Loser”. This immediately got people jumping around, which was pleasantly surprising considering the average age was closer to 40 than 20- when we first arrived, I was concerned it was going to be one of those gigs where the band give it their all only for the audience to remain stationary, maybe just nodding their heads a bit in time to the beat. Luckily for everyone, that wasn’t the case (and who knows, maybe the proper adults could teach us students a thing or two).
What with the commotion of the crowd and Taylor’s strong Melbourne accent, I was finding it pretty hard to actually hear/understand what she was saying between songs, but as it turns out there wasn’t a lot to hear, chatting-wise. The band ploughed through their repertoire of short, punchy songs (many of which don’t even hit the 2-minute mark) leaving no room for respite, meaning Taylor barely paused for breath, let alone stopped to chat to the crowd. However, that’s not to say the show was lacking in audience interaction; with her chaotic energy and peroxide blonde mullet, Taylor’s difficult not to engage with, and at one point did ask us what we thought she had to drink before the show. Out of all the answers the crowd threw out, I don’t think anyone expected her reply to be “breast milk” (which she went on to describe as “pretty weird”). But that’s what Amyl and The Sniffers are all about- bringing the shock value, confusion and chaos.
As if to demonstrate this further, Taylor launched herself onto the crowd as the scratchy intro riffs of “Balaclava Lover Boogie” kicked in, prompting many members of the audience to follow in her crowd-surfing wake as the show went on. They played a healthy mix of older material such as the snarling “Westgate” and tracks from the upcoming album; recently released lead single “Monsoon Rock” went down a treat, showcasing Taylor’s ability to turn even the most everyday subject- a rainstorm- into a riot. Their performance was messy and frequently seemed as if it could collapse in on itself at any moment - but that’s just the way they like it.
If “Monsoon Rock” is anything to go by, I highly doubt the raw energy which fuels their shows will be lost in translation on their new record, but even so I’d say Amyl and The Sniffers are a band best experienced live. As the lights came up and the crowd started to disperse, you could see the floor was covered in remnants of the chaos- amongst the pint cups was a pair of crushed headphones and a watch strap. One lady asked us if we’d seen her reading glasses around anywhere, but I’m not sure why she bothered looking to be honest; they wouldn’t have stood a chance.