Since we first got our hands on Nuclear Winter a few weeks ago, Batpiss have quickly become a favourite here in the What Sound office (aka, our living room). When we saw they were playing a show at The Curtin on Friday, we knew we had to be there. It was a night of balls to the wall rock and roll, with support by Brat Farrar, Mesa Cosa and Bad Vision.

In all my musical (mis)adventures, I hadn’t yet made it to The Curtin Bandroom until tonight and entering it for the first time, it felt really comfortable. The shabby decor complete with framed wall hangings, potted plants on stage, a mirror ball and fairy lights, I felt all I needed to complete the hipster experience was a glass of Cooper’s. Once I had that in hand, the rest of the night came together smoothly.

Bad Vision were first up and punched straight into their opening song. From then on it was a relentless assault on the eardrums as they powered through their set. Their sound is like a meld of garage and post-punk, with certain songs making me think of Thee Oh Sees while others reminded me of early Joy Division – probably not coincidental given that Krystal on guitar was wearing a Joy Division shirt, and Jerome’s dancing was somewhat reminiscent of Ian Curtis. The set was great and the band hardly paused between songs, save for asking for “more Josh in the foldback” or to throw out a Blues Brothers quote that most of the audience seemed to miss. I thought these guys were awesome and I seriously recommend checking out their Bandcamp page and shelling out $10 for a 7″ (or if you’re a tightarse, $2 for a digital download).

The next band on the bill was Mexican/Australian garage/punk/gang hybrid Mesa Cosa, who brought an incredible level of (somewhat controlled) chaos to the stage. I’d probably have to borrow a quote from Anchorman because I think the best way to describe their show is ‘a bilingual bloodfest’. Whether it be guitarist/singer Pablo pushing his way through tambourinist (is that a word?) Stewart’s legs, forcing him into a forward roll onto the stage, then switching mics out of necessity, or the other guitarist scratching the band name into the ceiling with his guitar before deciding to stop playing and duck to the bar mid song for a pint, it’s hard to work out which part of the circus sideshow is more entertaining. This all amidst music that varies from finely crafted garage rock to what I’d expect a coked up jam at a generator party in the California desert would sound like makes for a very entertaining show. They closed their set with ‘Los Perros’ and everything got completely out of control resulting in a broken guitar. Fucking rock and/or roll.

After the intensity of Mesa Cosa, Brat Farrar was a serious change of pace. Still fast and heavy, but a lot more refined and with more smooth and relaxed vocals. A drum malfunction in the first verse of the first song meant we got to hear them start twice and they were pretty tight to start with, but they seemed to loosen up a bit through the set, which is never great. It might have had a lot to do with the drummer being thrown by breaking the kick pedal so early on though so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt there. They definitely had a fair bit of punk influence, but I felt they had much more in common with The Angels than, say, The Dead Kennedys. There was one song in the middle of the set that seemed to really stretch Brat’s vocal range and it was by far the most exciting song they played: seriously short, fast, loud and evocative of The Bronx, but it was all alone on that level. New single ‘Burn Everything Down’ was solid, and there were a few other songs in the set that were good fun, including the new B Side ‘Punk Records’. I think they were a good band, they just didn’t measure up to the insanity of the previous bands.

Batpiss were all business as soon as they hit the stage, launching into their opening track ‘Hollywood’ and not stopping until after their fourth. They’re men of little words and lots of noise, in their first pause Bassist/Vocalist Thomy simply said “Hi” before letting the bass feed back for a few seconds as they dived straight back in. Even though I know the album, I still haven’t worked out most of the names and they didn’t have a setlist on stage for me to eye off – they seemed to just instinctively know what they were about to play. I was pleased though when they finally played ‘Seed’, mostly because it’s an incredible track but also because I finally knew the name of the song. They followed that straight up with ‘Drag My Body’, just like on the album.

I feel it necessary to comment on their unorthodox stage setup. Paul and Thomy set up their vocal mics in the centre of the stage, facing each other so that when they’re both screaming, they are literally screaming into each others’ faces. It looks bizarre, but I assume it’s so that they can be certain their screams are perfectly synchronised, something that they definitely achieve and to great effect. Obviously, given that they recorded Nuclear Winter live, I knew they were going to be precise, but I was still surprised at how tight they were. Feel free to insert your own euphemism here. (You dirty things.) I was seriously impressed also with Paul’s command of feedback, it’s a skill that’s sadly lacking from a lot of guitarists, but he made the amps wail at the right frequency every time. The whole set was fantastic, my heart sank when Thomy said they had one left. I just didn’t want them to stop.

Wes Fahey

FULL GALLERY HERE

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