The Tote is many things. It’s a great venue, a local icon, a true survivor and more. One thing though stands out above all others: The Tote is fucking loud. Friday night saw Ouch My Face lead a brilliant and heavy lineup with Mangelwurzel, Heads of Charm and Udays Tiger in an all out assault to destroy my eardrums.

Two piece “rock genre band” Udays Tiger were just under halfway through their blistering set as I arrived and from the street I could tell I was going to enjoy it. Devin de Araujo and Nathan Morris’ two-headed vocal approach over drop-tuned guitars and pounding drums pumped out enough sound to make anyone wonder why bands even need more than two people. By the end of their set I was wondering where I could buy their music, and already wishing I was wearing earplugs.

Heads of Charm were next up, and brought pounding drums, atonal guitars and tooth rattling bass as The Tote’s next weapon in their war against hearing. Lachlan Ewbank started off alone, demonstrating his formidable skills hitting the skins, as guitarist David Gagliardi and bassist Sam Whiting made their way to the stage. To describe their sound as aggressive would be an understatement, the trio played with such ferocity that it made their tightly plotted sounds seem quite chaotic. They saved their new single ‘Spain Is On A Roll’ for the end of the set and it was a brilliant closer.

Considering they still brought their (well documented) intensity and insanity to the stage, it seems odd to describe Mangelwurzel’s set as ‘a nice break’. Nevertheless, the change in pace was more than welcome. New bass player Johnny seemed more at home in the group than last time I caught them and the sound benefited from it. During the second song I decided to give up reviewing and just started dancing with the rest of the crowd. After 4 times seeing them play, all I have left to say about this band is: if you haven’t seen Mangelwurzel live, do yourself a favour and get to their next show.

Celeste Potter casually introduced Ouch My Face before herself and the two Bens punched into their set. As heavy as ever and even more insane, their set featured most of the tracks from their self-titled EP as well as a few fantastic new ones, including ‘Rejection’ – a song Celeste wrote about a girl who “assembled my Ikea bed, then disassembled my heart.” Their banter was fantastic, at one point Ben Ely asked the crowd who liked to be naughty, to which only Cosi from Mangelwurzel gave an honest answer. At the end of their set the crowd hadn’t had enough so, despite not having rehearsed it for months, they performed an earbleeding version of ‘Firehead’ as a perfect encore.

With an elated feeling from such a great show, and an intense ringing in my ears, I made my way home from Collingwood with a mind to invest in some hearing protection before my next visit to The Tote.

Wes Fahey


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