EP Review: Chalk Hands – Burrows & Other Hideouts

Chalk Hands Burrows and Other Hideouts Cover
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Brighton crew Chalk Hands are newcomers in the scene, channeling the likes of Pianos Become The Teeth, Caspian and Envy to offer two songs in a mixed screamo/post-rock style on their début release, Burrows & Other Hideouts.

First song “Burrows” commences with a solemn, softly picked guitar passage, before transforming into a monster. It’s a blistering, furious ode to paranoia and deception, with heavy passages alternating against instrumental segments. The instrumental parts provide breathing room, a break from the anger. But strong emotions dominate the entire way through.

Likewise, “Arms” kicks off strong, offering intense catharsis. It’s a sombre affair. Gang vocals deliver the line “weakness is no curse”, but self-doubt still rings through.

The intense style of music draws strong comparison to modern hardcore acts like Octaves and Defeater, with instrumental post-rock elements breaking up the songs, similar to Winters Dust. The energetic delivery makes the songs seem short. They are fast paced with busy drumming, but the songs both last longer than your average hardcore jam.

Following the idiom of quality over quantity, Chalk Hands offer a short, furious taster of things to come in the vein of many other modern hardcore acts, yet stand out enough to avoid becoming clichéd.

Chalk Hands Burrows and Other Hideouts


Burrows & Other Hideouts will be released on the 25th of August through Future Void Records, available as a digital download, CD or tape.


Chalk Hands links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chalkhandsmusic

Bandcamp: https://chalkhands.bandcamp.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/chalkhandsofficial/

Joseph James

 

Album Review: Rise Against – Wolves

Rise Against Wolves
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The classification of punk music is totally subjective. What do The Ramones, The Clash and The Sex Pistols share in common? Who’s more punk out of Blink 182 or the Rage Against The Machine? To me, the two essential elements of good punk music are speed and political content.

Rise Against have both. Since discovering them in my early teens, they have long been one of my favourite bands. I’ve seen them more than any other international act (Powerstation 2009, Big Day Out 2010, Logan Campbell Centre 2011, and opening for Foo Fighters 2015), and they also take up the most space in my record collection (alongside Biffy Clyro).

But to be honest, I wasn’t so keen on their latest album. I won’t go so far as to say they sold-out, but Appeal To Reason signaled a tipping point for the band once they had signed to a major label, and since then their sound became steadily more accessible. This culminated in their last release, The Black Market, lacking the edge that the band once had.

Thankfully, album number eight, Wolves, feels more raw than the polished radio-rock that the band had churned out over the past few releases. I doubt we will ever hear a true return to their hardcore roots, but the pop sheen on this record is thankfully less noticeable. I didn’t have high hopes on first listen, having not thought much of their previous record, but thankfully Wolves proved instantly likable.

It’s the same familiar Rise Against. They’ve transcended their underground roots to create a melodic-hardcore-come-arena-rock style that has boosted them to prominence. And I do not begrudge them for their success. But I do feel that a special connection to the band has been lost since they started gaining more dominance on the airwaves.

I stated before that I think political content is a vital aspect of good punk music. Rise Against have always toed the line well in this regard – writing lyrics that allude to their personal and political values without being overt enough to ostracize their increasingly mainstream fan base. Just a handful of topics they’ve touched on in the past include treatment of animals (many of the band members are vegan), people (refugees, the LGBT community) and the fallout of war (including the impacts on both soldiers and civilians involved).

In his typical fashion, on Wolves singer Tim McIlrath cries out against injustice with a fervent fire. One could attribute inspiration to a certain orange-tinted world leader, but in reality corruption and oppression will always exist, regardless of who runs the government. Wolves features a theme of rallying the people to stand as one against ambiguous powers-that-be. Both relevant and vague enough for most people to relate to. And how can one not be drawn to that call to humanity that all of us possess?

Plus they have lots of “whoas”. “Whoas” are freaking awesome, and the perfect invitation from a band to have you sing along. Just ask The Casualties.

I find it hard to define my overall verdict. Wolves is actually great. I love Rise Against, and will always hold them dear as an important building block in my musical education. But I’m not sure that I needed another album from them. I like Wolves, but chances are high that  if I’m hoping for my Rise Against fix I will overlook it and reach for one of their older records.

 

Joseph James

Album Review: Body Count – Bloodlust

Body Count Bloodlust
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These days Ice-T is likely best known for his acting career, and then his solo rapping career. But his metal side-project Body Count deserves as much recognition – especially after having just released their intense sixth album Bloodlust.

Body Count started as a group of friends interested in heavy music at high school. And they sound mean. They combine gangsta rap mentality with heavy rock and metal music to create an aggressive sound verging on hardcore.

If my description doesn’t sum it up well enough for your liking, then try Ice-T’s explanation, taking from the vocal intro to their cover of Slayer’s “Raining Blood”

” Body Count is a band I put together just to let one of my best friends, Ernie C play his guitar. He’s always been playing guitar, we all went to Crenshaw High School together in South Central Los Angeles. And I had the idea of let’s make a metal band, let’s make a rock band, ’cause I had been to Europe and I noticed that the kids would mosh off of hip-hop. So we put the band together and I used the three bands that were my favourites at the time to set the tone. We used the impending doom of a group like Black Sabbath, who pretty much invented metal; the punk sensibility of somebody like Suicidal, who basically put that gangbanger style from Venice, California into the game; and the speed and the precision of Slayer – one of my favourite groups and always will be. “

Body Count Bloodlust Promo Shot

Not only do Body Count take inspiration from some of the big names in metal, but they also collaborate with a few of them on this album, including Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine, Sepultura’s Max Cavalera and Lamb Of God’s Randy Blythe.

As you would expect from that explanation, the music is in-your-face. Tight, fast drums, distorted riffs, squealing solos, and punk-meets-thrash delivered vocals.

The lyrical and thematically content seems contradictory within the album, with Ice-T bragging about criminal activities on one track, whilst protesting black stereotypes on another. I acknowledge that maintaining a tough guy persona is an integral aspect of the band’s image, but I would argue that singing about violence would further perpetuate negative stereotypes. Ice-T tackles issues like racism, poverty, street violence and police brutality, but also paints himself in an intimidating light.

Sure Black Lives Matter is worth acknowledging, but singing that you “gotta get paid the ski mask way” and discussing your thirst for bloodshed is a surefire way to become another statistic at the hands of a trigger happy cop.

Not that this criticism is exclusive to Body Count. Many political charged rappers walk that line between voicing out against injustice and playing to clichéd hiphop conventions of being a drug dealing gang banger.

Body Count use voice to add variety to the tracks. The opening passage on the album features Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine taking on the role of the broadcaster who delivers a faux broadcast from a dystopian president announcing martial law, before delving into a blistering guitar solo. Samples from news clips in “No Lives Matter” paint a picture of how it many young black men are being shot and killed by police in America. Ice-T also switches up his own style, providing monologues to preface a few songs, aping Tom Araya’s bark in the cover of Slayer’s “Raining Blood”, and acting out a bank hold up during the break down of “The Ski Mask Way”.

Bloodlust is a great introduction for those uninitiated to Body Count’s work. The slick production sounds great – especially when compared against the band’s early work from the ’90s. Ice-T gives a few explanations at the start of some tracks, which give insight into how the band came about and what drives them. The music is energetic and tight, and the topics touch on some issues that need to be addressed.

It is a real shame that the braggadocio attitude dilutes the genuine attempts to raise awareness for social issues, but the music and delivery on Bloodlust is killer. Mean metal with real gangsta swagger, loaded with memorable hooks and filled with intensity.


Body Count links:

Website: http://bodycountband.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bodycountofficial/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BodyCountBand

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bodycountofficial/

 

Joseph James

Interview: Incentives

Incentives Melbourne
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Melbourne based hardcore act Incentives have just dropped their début EP, Dusk, at the end of June. I fired some questions off to vocalist Kyle Adams just before then to see where the band was at prior to dropping their first EP, and to learn more about who they were.

Will Not Fade: I’ve visited Melbourne once. It was in 2012 and I stayed with my friends who were in the band The Voyage, and we all went to see Terror play that weekend. I got the impression that in Australia people take being in a band pretty seriously, whereas here in New Zealand it’s more like “hey let’s start our sixth side project, and I’ll play an instrument that I haven’t learnt because it looks fun!” Have you noticed much of a difference between NZ/AU bands?

Kylee: We were lucky enough to tour New Zealand early 2015 and made great friends with a band called ‘The Inquisition’. I don’t really feel like we picked up on any huge differences other than the fact that the New Zealand scene is considerably smaller. This probably means that as an Australian band you really need to put in a little bit of extra time and money to get yourself noticed and grab opportunities. End of the day I think both scenes really love their music it’s just a matter of scale.

How does the Melbourne hardcore scene feel at the moment?

The Melbourne hardcore scene is super, super, talented right now. We have heaps and heaps of bands coming out and continually impressing! I still think there is a bit of a gap between the “In group” and the rest of the scene but that’s always pretty standard for any kind of scene in any facet of life.

I read that many of your songs are written about girls. Which member of the band is the biggest ladies’ man? (You need a story to back up any answers to this question!)

Daaaammmn, this is tough but good old Jezza (bassist) is currently the only single member so best for the future of all four other relationships I don’t disclose a great deal. Jezza has a pretty neat track record when it comes to Tinder, and has been known to pull some local girls when we pull up in their town. Currently boasting a 100% strike rate down in Tassie!

The Dusk album cover features a picture of a faceless man with a gorgeous beard, but I see in your publicity pics that none of you have beards. What gives?

Well you see before our drummer Joe moved to Melbourne he lived in the mountain ranges, and whilst stalking his Facebook to ensure this new drummer was a legit person I stumbled across a few photos. These photos depicted a wild Joe two weeks after his 18th birthday. Where Joe grew up you aren’t considered a man unless you trek through the bush for two weeks either side of your 18th birthday., and so these photos our dear drummer was sporting one fine beard and that’s basically where the inspiration came from.

You came to NZ last year to tour with Depths, Hand of Mercy and The Inquisition. Tell me what you enjoyed/learnt during that trip.

We loooooove New Zealand! Everyone was just so genuine and kind to us throughout the entire trip it was quite incredible. We made some lifelong friends in The Inquisition so that was great. One thing we did learn though was that our New Zealand friends weren’t all that great with the local geography and with an adventure that ended in Papatoitoi. I feel we Australians have a better idea when it comes to such matters.

Do you prefer playing all ages or R18 shows? 

I really don’t mind! Over ages is fun because everyone can get drunk and have a bit of a time, but then it’s equally fun playing to younger crowds too. It’s all a good time really!

Joe’s dad built his drum kit for him. How did he learn how to do that?

This is the question I have asked myself a million times, but again I think it comes down to the coming of age ritual. Upon Joe’s return he had a fully constructed guitar he had built out of tambark and other fauna, so my tip is that Joe’s dad managed to do something similar but in the form of a drum kit.

You’ve been playing for three years, but have only just recorded your first EP. Do you think this will open many doors for you?

One can only hope! It’s been hard for us to keep things consistently moving given that we have had so many lineup changes but now things have got a bit of a move on and we just want to keep the momentum rolling.

You’re just about to drop your first EP, and have a tour lined up. What else is on the cards for Incentives?

I guess just more of the same! Everything bigger and better would be the goal. Creating memories that we can always look back on is my biggest wish. I understand bands aren’t the be all and end all, so really I just want to do as much as I can during this short little time frame we have. Then when my kids give me shit for wearing cardigans I can whip out some old photos and music and say “your dad had a half decent run back in the day” hahaha.

Which song do you think I should share with readers who aren’t familiar with your music?

Hmmmmm possibly “Dawn”. We’ve had a great response to that track and Jezza has a sing on it too! It’s pretty much the only song on the entire EP with a chorus so perhaps this chorus trend may continue with the new stuff.

Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. Hopefully I’ll catch you next time you cross the ditch to play in New Zealand again!

Thanks heaps for the interview man! Probably the most fun I’ve had with an interview this entire time (had over 50 of the buggers). Hopefully we can make it out to New Zealand again soon and see you at a show.


 

Incentives links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/IncentivesMelb/

Bandcamp: https://incentivesmelbourne.bandcamp.com/

Tour: https://www.facebook.com/events/1752335758369622/

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/incentives-band 

 

Joseph James

Buried Treasure: La Dispute – Eight

La Dispute Here Hear
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Buried Treasure is a semi-regular feature that explores some hidden musical gems – the rare and forgotten B-sides, covers, hidden tracks, live versions and alternative takes that deserve some recognition.

Melodic hardcore band La Dispute just dropped their new track “Thirteen“, so this is a good time to shine a spotlight on some of their non-album material.

La Dispute have three EPs in the Here, Hear series that are wildly different from their regular output. Rather than the intense hardcore we are used to, these EPs include untitled experimental spoken word songs based on literature, poetry, philosophy and prose. When I saw La Dispute play with Balance & Composure in Wellington a few years ago I was delighted that they even included the song ‘Nine’ into their set by playing it as the first encore.

La Dispute here hear liner notes

Setting up for recording in a garage. Picture taken from the Here, Hear II EP liner notes

The series is delightfully low-fi and creative. Most of the tracks use unconventional objects as instruments, like clapping wooden blocks together in a basement. Other examples that stood out as interesting were using a pocketknife as a guitar slide, flipping book pages, or using a pencil sharpener for percussion. You can even hear a dog howling in the song “Seven”.

They draw on a variety of literary sources for inspiration, such as Edgar Allen Poe’s gothic Annabel Lee, and Kenneth Grahame’s charming The Wind in The Willows. My favourite though, is the song ‘Eight’, adapted from the afterword of J. Michael Straczynski’s graphic novel Midnight Nation.

Written in the form of a diary reflection, Straczynski explores the dichmidnight-nation-cover2otomies of his city, with the characters that feature during the day and during the night seemingly from two different worlds. This theme provides the basis for the graphic novel, a story of the lost and forgotten trying to find their way out from beneath the cracks of society.

I love listen to this track through headphones as I go for walks. I picture the narrators story as I explore my city, and try to see the places I’ve walked through hundreds of times with fresh eyes, trying to notice the hidden and forgotten.

Go and listen to Here, Hear series to fall in love with the blend of brilliant music and literature.

Joseph James

Album Review: Declaration AD – Sometimes It’s Us

Declaration AD Sometimes It's Us
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I need to admit something before I start. I consider the boys in Declaration AD some of my closest friends. I even lived with a few of them for a few years. And frontman Sam Coates designed the WNF logo for this site. This review cannot be impartial.

I’m pretty sure that I’ve attended more of their shows than anyone else. I was their first show back in 2010, at the now defunct Happy Bar. I tagged along on their first tour. I helped them print their first lot of t-shirts, and I loaned them my lungs when they recorded the gang vocals for their first two releases. I’ve watched them grow and evolve into who they are now. Obviously this is going to be a biased review, but it’s a two-way thing. My familiarity with the band also means I can give an insider’s perspective.


Declaration AD formed in Wellington late in 2009. The Wellington hardcore scene was in a re-building stage at that point, after some of the previous bands who had carried the torch had either broken up, or were in the process of doing so. We would have to road-trip up to Palmy if we wanted to attend hardcore shows.

I still remember the first one they took me to: The Chase on their final tour (I was honestly terrified. It was my first experience seeing people throwing down like they do, and I kept getting hit by backswings.One girl standing next to Kirk got knocked out).

Declaration AD would play shows with pretty odd lineups, simply because that was the only option – there were no other hardcore bands in Wellington to play with. It worked alright when they played alongside punk and metalcore bands, but often they’d play with indie bands, powermetal acts… anyone who was willing to have them on the bill. Last year they even opened for internet sensation rapper Bangs.

Over time the boys have helped to revive the Wellington hardcore scene through constant touring and inspiring friends to start their own bands. They would befriend bands in Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga and Palmy, and then invite them to play shows in Wellington. Our flat was known as The 44 (short for “44 hardcore”) – named after the street number. As Wellington hosts, we’d let visiting bands stay over, crammed into our limited floor space and draped over couches. It was pretty common to have the entire place filled with sweaty sleeping bodies after a show.

The hard work led to success. Declaration AD have shared the stage with heavyweight local acts like Saving Grace and Antagonist AD, as well as international artists such as Terror, Trapped Under Ice and Sleeping Giant. They released two EP’s and a full length album over this period.

Sometimes It’s Us is Declaration AD’s most recent offering, the first that they’ve recorded in a professional capacity. Previously they’ve had help from friends with recording gear, but this time the band saved up to pay for time at a proper studio.


The album begins with static and tuning, like the faux-radio intro to Queens of the Stoneage’s Songs For The Deaf. It kicks off with the furious ‘Spent’, the grooviest track Declaration AD have written in ages. And it’s from this first song that the new dynamics start to pop up. Kirk Hodgson’s guitar playing is eerie and high pitched at times, unlike the usual chugged open chords. And during the bridge vocalist Sam Coates’ delivery is almost spoken word.

There are two key aspects that make Sometime’s It’s Us standout: the energy and the use of dynamics. These songs are heavy. They’re fast and angry. Listen to the blistering ‘Enfleshed’ and you’ll see what I mean. But they’re also well written. There’s the cut outs in ‘Mental Hell’ and ‘Belonging’ that add impact. The different styles of vocal delivery. The changes of pace, the guest spots from other vocalists, and the use of powerful gang vocals. All these elements are used to make the songs more interesting.

One of my favorites, ‘Mental Hell’, is frantic and speed driven, with a doomy break down juxtaposed against the breakneck beat. Towards the end it sounds like Sam is shouting through a megaphone. I also really like ‘Picket Sings & Protest Lines’ because of the enormous sounding gang vocals.

In fact the entire album is pretty relentless. ’04-14′ steps it down a notch for some slow burning self-examination, but on the whole there is a lot of aggression coming through.


Perennial crowd favourite ‘Better Man’ features in its third incarnation. ‘Better Man’ first featured on the NZ Hardcore Compilation CD in 2010. I remember the Declaration boys being so excited during the lead up to the compilation release; recording their first song and featuring alongside some of their heroes. The recording session didn’t go as ideally as hoped though, leaving them slightly disappointed with the end result. Their next attempt was with début EP MMX later that year. Again, they realised that this recording lark was harder than they’d initially thought, leaving them despondent about another recording that didn’t really capture the sound that they had wanted. So they’ve decided to test the idiom “third time lucky” with their first professional recording, and give ‘Better Man’ another go.

I’m reminded of how Anberlin re-recorded their song ‘Feelgood Drag’ as a single, three years after they’d first released it. The song became their breakthrough hit. The re-recorded version sounds darker and edgier. But I prefer the original version that I grew up listening to, simply because it’s more familiar. In the same sense, this newer recording of ‘Better Man’ may be better, but it will take me some time to get used to. Naturally, the song has evolved over time, as the lads have learned to play their instruments better and gel as a band. One of the more noticeable aspects is that vocalist Sam Coates is no longer at the forefront, but sounds somewhat distant in the mix. And the gang vocals are more prominent, as is the case in their usual live setting. Long story short: ‘Better Man’ has finally been given the treatment it deserves. Few people actually have a copy of either of the first two versions, so it’s only right that the band’s most enduring song get’s proper recognition.

Image: Grace Gemuhluoglu

L-R: Dan Drower (bass), Kirk Hodgson (guitar), Sam Coates (vocals and Dave Morrison (drums).    Image: Grace Gemuhluoglu

The stark images throughout the album depict anguish, loss, anger and pain, but the overall there is a theme of hope. There are personal issues laid bare, and although this makes Sam the lyricist vulnerable, it makes him all the more relatable as well. Many of the songs explore identity – who we are, how we act, what makes us feel validated, what we stand for. During the contemplative ’04-14′ he shouts “my flaws are too real to deny”. I’m sure that none of us can deny that we have similar battles. Words have always been Sam’s gift. He’s a genuine, unassuming guy who can brighten anyone’s day with an affirmation. He writes with conviction and shouts with such power that he has always stood out as great frontman.

Sometimes It’s Us showcases improved musicianship from the band. I love how Kirk uses treble to bring balance to the sound – an oft neglected aspect of “heavy” music, with its frequent drop-tuning and distortion. His sound has changed, with a very metal tone, tight riffs and plenty of pinch harmonics and Dimebag-styled squeals. Drummer Dave Morrison has really stepped up this time round, going for the no-fills approach. His efficient style gives the music momentum without over-complicating things. And the times that he does include an aspect like a fill or something flashy, they stand out. And bassist Dan Drower always was known for his musical abilities, and finally gets to cement his role in the band by recording new material, after having joined the band early in 2013.

Sometimes It’s Us is a big improvement for Declaration AD, showing how far they’ve come during the three years since their last release. It’s furious and focused while at the same economic and efficient. They’ve put planning into the song writing and recording that has led to tighter and more dynamic sounding songs. This is easily the longest release, lasting almost half an hour, but it’s also one of their best.

… And it’s also their last. After roughly six years, they’ve decided to call it a day.

I was there at the start, and now I can say I was there until the end. When the Declaration boys look back over their time as a band there will be no shortage of achievements to reflect on. They’ve survived a few line-up changes and left a legacy to be proud of. It’s bittersweet that this album features some of their best work, but they won’t be around much longer to celebrate it.

 

Declaration AD:      Facebook        Twitter       Instagram        Bandcamp

 

Joseph James

Live Review: Ur Boy Bangs at Zeal Welly

Bangs Wellington Zeal
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Ur Boy Bangs (Melbourne)

w/ Declaration AD (Wellington) and FLYBZ (Melbourne)
Zeal Welly
Thursday 27 November 2014

Sudanese born Ajak Chol, best known by his stage name Bangs, moved to Australia in 2003 and took to building his rap career with great gusto.

Bangs achieved internet notoriety in 2009 with his viral hit “Take U To Da Movies”. At the time of writing the YouTube clip has had 9.7 million views. Honda even commissioned Bangs to help them promote their Jazz range of cars. Bangs was also prolific on the social media. He had so many followers on Facebook that he reached the limit and had to create a secondary account.

The reason for this is because his music was so bad. The lyrics didn’t flow, the beats weren’t catchy. His music videos contained plenty of badly green-screened backgrounds like maps of Sudan and Australia, and pictures of cash and sports cars. His attempts at wooing girls by calling them “Shawty” and offering to take them “to da movies”, or chat to them on “the Facebook” were hilarious. So people showed the funny videos to their friends, who in turn show the video to their other friends, and so on.

A rapper who gains worldwide publicity and fame from one song because of how bad it is. Welcome to the internet age.

Since then this has become common practice, things that are bad or unusual going viral. Take Sharknado or Gangnam Style, for instance.

Last time Bangs played in Wellington I decided it wasn’t worth attending. This was mainly because the show started at 10pm, plus there were a number of opening acts, meaning that Bangs probably wouldn’t have even come on until close to midnight. I wasn’t willing to pay $20 and stay up so late on a school night just to see an internet joke in the flesh.

But this time Bangs has announced a last-minute all ages show, two days before playing. This suits me fine because it means I won’t have to stay up so late to watch him.

The joke gets even funnier with the announcement of the opening act: local hardcore band Declaration AD. I was living with Declaration guitarist Kirk Hogson in 2010 and I’m pretty sure it was he who showed me Bang’s video in the first place. Original Declaration bass player Tom White spent a lot of time pestering Bangs over Facebook. I bet he still has a screenshot saved on his computer saying “BStar Bangs likes Declaration AD”. They joked about it at the time, but I don’t think anyone actually expected that they would get to share a stage with Bangs.

Declaration AD were on form, even with their former bass player filling in at last minute’s notice. They’ve just been in the studio putting the finishing touches on their fourth release, so not doubt performing live would be a pleasure after recording in a sterile studio environment. They’re well-known at Zeal so enough of the audience knew what to expect, but it was pretty amusing seeing the shock on the faces of the others present. Imagine young kids showing up to the show expecting to see an internet sensation from five years ago, and instead having four hairy men playing loud hardcore music and shouting at them.

Declaration AD

I would have loved to seen Declaration AD collaborate with one of the rappers, something along the lines of a rap/rock crossover like Aerosmith and Run DMC doing “Walk This Way”.

The turn out was fairly small. Most people present were Zeal volunteers or friends with the boys from Declaration AD. But there were 20 or so others who had shown up to just to see Bangs. I’m surprised at how many young teenagers even remember who Bangs is. If most of the people in the audience are underage, it means they would have been roughly 12 when Bangs was at the peak of his hype.

The second act was another Melbourne based rapper named FLYBZ. FLYBZ was a former child soldier from the African nation of Burundi. He surprised us by being quite good. He worked the crowd and got us dancing and singing along. He even asked one boy from the audience to come onstage and help him by sing the chorus for a song about equality. It was funny how when he decided that a song was finished, FLYBZ would reach over to his laptop and stop the music abruptly, instead of having an outro.

FLYBZ also took over DJ duties and backing vocals for the star of the night, Ur Boi Bangs.

Bangs’ set almost had a linear narrative. He rapped about how his life is hard because he comes from the ghetto. But no matter what you have to keep your mind right. He had a song ready for each point he made. Then he taught us the process for courting a woman. “First you need to meet her somewhere” he told us, before playing “Meet Me On Facebook”. Once you’ve met her you take her shopping. Then you take her “for a deena!” [Dinner]. There was a song about Christmas that interrupted the musical date that Bang’s was taking us on. And of course, he finished with the obligatory “Take U To Da Movies”.

Just like Adam reaching out to the Creator in Michelangelo's famous painting at the Sistine Chapel

Just like Adam reaching out to the Creator in Michelangelo’s famous painting at the Sistine Chapel

Was it worth going? I’ve seen bands that I expected to be bad before for the sake of a joke. Guitar Wolf can barely be classed as musicians, yet I’ve seen them play twice and both times the performances were amazing.

Bangs doesn’t seem to mind the haters. He gave us a speech about it before performing his song “Hi Haters”

“Haters make you famous. If you can’t love your haters you can’t love yourself”

– Ur Boi Bangs

He’s like Tommy Wiseau, the man behind The Room (widely regarded as one of the worst films ever made). His product may be terrible, but it has earned him fame and a cult following so why fight it?

I expected Bangs to suck. I went for one famous song that seemed like a joke. I went to see how everyone would react. I went to see Declaration AD scare children. I went for the nostalgia, because we all thought it would be so exciting to see Bangs when he was all the rage back in 2010.

Bangs surpassed my expectations. It was actually an amazing night. Everybody was having so much fun singing and dancing along and waving their hands in the air. There was crowd surfing and stage diving. I think the Snapchat and Instagram headquarters much have been under extra stress based on the sheer volume of selfies that people in the crowd were taking.

I’m glad the show was cheap. I’m glad that it didn’t run late. And I’m especially glad that I went.

Ahaa!

Joseph James