Depending on who you ask, Melbourne’s gems of Mulgrave TISM are either national treasures or that really weird thing that came on in the pub that one time. The former have invaded the land of the Corner Hotel for the musical reemergence of TISM mastermind Damian Cowell, now having cast aside the mask for Damian Cowell’s Disco Machine. Despite his history and aptitude for the sarcastic, Damian Cowell’s Disco Machine is just what it says on the box: Disco music from the mind of one of the city’s most notorious shit stirrers. The album ended up crowdfunded via Pozible, and now the day has come for those who helped breathe a little life into this premature baby to take to the stage for its first dance recital. And then there’s me, the creepy uncle who just happens to have the only camera to catch the whole thing.

The first signal that this gig is not going to be your daddy’s disco extravaganza comes at the door, where entrants are greeted with a stamp on the arm and a branded glow stick. Although it’s not the standard for the roller rink, it’s something bush doofs have done for an age. What bush doofs don’t have, however, are legions of disco and/or TISM fans blocking all exits. School captains and businesspeople and those who try less to hide their weirdness are all here, ready to let loose for a night of daggy dancing and facetiousness. The cry when the house speakers turn down is downright primal.

With a flair only 1980s East Melbourne can give, Cowell seems to slide onto the stage for the first song. Already things are heavy, especially for disco standards. The wayward gathering of youths and rejects that is tonight’s audience accept it without missing a beat, getting down as Cowell shoots snarky political commentary over the stabbing synths. It doesn’t take long before the first of the night’s long list of names marches onstage to join the well oiled groove machine in the fun.

Kate Miller-Heidke, Tim Rogers, John Safran, Shaun Micallef and more pop there heads in on the nights proceedings one way or another. By the end of the night the stage is only a Doctor and a Wil Anderson away from being a reunion of the early 2000s triple j line up. But despite the faces coming and going, Cowell’s always sticks out, flailing and crooning snarkily to songs like ‘I’m Addicted to Moderation’, his dorky pressed grey suit somehow stealing all attention from the bizarreness sure to be happening on any part of the room. Hopefully this will be the case when the man is inevitably voted in to serve for Eurovision and the world can witness the joy of it but until then, The Corner is enough of a stage.

Cleatus Glob

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