Event Listing (VIC)
The Yard Apes
On a bone-chilling Saturday night in Ballarat, not everyone taking shelter in the popular Karova Lounge was there for the bands. And yet a bill leaning heavily on old-school garage made for solid entertainment as the hours ticked away and drinks loosened up a wide assortment of punters.
Mother And Son acquitted themselves well with just guitar and drums, opening with an instrumental before frontman Bodie offered his ragged voice for sacrifice. A two-piece visiting from Wollongong, the band played garage-hewn blooze with some surf signifiers. There was a frayed, discursive take on The Boxtops classic ‘The Letter’ as well as ‘Dead Yellow Moon’, Mother And Son’s share of a split 7” with local headliners The Yard Apes. Somewhere between the deconstructive chops of The Black Keys and the slipshod carousing of The Black Lips, the set boded well for the band’s new second album.
With double the members and considerably more experience, Melbourne’s Midnight Woolf were a combustible commodity, belting out hooky garage rock with scary urgency. Wearing a Hank Williams shirt and sunnies throughout, singer-guitarist Fuzzhound barked with a throaty grizzle and at one point unleashed a series of Big Bopper-style sound effects. There was no hiding the cheekiness of it all; a cover of Van Morrison’s title-spelling ‘Gloria’ became ‘Mongolia’. But the band was very much on, lending serious swagger even to the silly bits. Swampy noise collided with flecks of rockabilly and proto-punk, while the whole package was delivered with the requisite kick of volume.
While self-described as “trashabilly surf punk”, The Yard Apes came off a bit more straightforward than the first two bands. Headlining a hometown gig, the Ballarat trio commanded a fairly large audience and proved very confident on stage. Sporting big mutton chops, the charismatic frontman at times recalled a nascent Henry Wagons. He was cuddly and sort of badass at once, taking off his western shirt to reveal a white singlet and colourful tattoos as audience members issued tongue-in-cheek catcalls. The drummer held things down well alongside the sturdy bass, while the songs dipped reverently into vintage rock’n’roll.
It was a welcome source of heat as the temperature continued to drop outside and a line of people queued up around the corner to embrace the venue’s post-gig free-for-all.
by Doug Wallen
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