I don’t often make my way South of the Yarra, but a late call on Friday afternoon found me in possession of a ticket to see Portland, Oregon’s own stoner rock legends Red Fang at The Prince Bandroom. While it may not be my favourite venue in the world, I couldn’t pass it up so I headed down to St Kilda.

Warped were tearing up the stage when I arrived, powering through their set with more energy than you’d expect from guys who’ve been on the scene for so long. They downtuned for their second last song, a new one, and kept it that way for the set-closer, the low A rumbling through the floor as they finished up as strong as they’d started. The legendary local 4-piece, still going strong after 24 years, had the crowd’s undivided attention throughout their set with killer tunes and guitar playing so phallic that (visually) they were basically a miniature stonehenge away from Spinal Tap.

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King of the North proved their chops early on, spending the first 25 minutes taking the crowd on a stoner rock odyssey of just 2 songs. Guitarist Andrew Higgs stated the obvious saying “We just want to jam tonight, I hope you don’t mind” before launching into a brilliant version of ‘Manic Depression’ which they dedicated to the headliners. They had two more songs in their set, and they were the most vocal heavy of all of them, and it was great to hear the harmonies they were able to deliver once Danny Leo added his parts. As their set came to a close, I found myself wanting more time with the two piece.

Before they came on I couldn’t help but notice that, with three bass amps on stage, Red Fang had all the gear to do a version of ‘Big Bottom’ – which I was hoping would complete my sudden and slightly weird Spinal Tap fantasy. As the four guys hit the stage and the opening riff of ‘Dirt Wizard,’ with the classic stoner tone of guitars through bass amps (which I have always loved), filled the air and I noticed that behind the kit, John Sherman was wearing Nigel Tufnel’s signature rib cage tank top and the night’s Tap theme came full circle.

Not much for wasting time, as each tune abruptly ended the crowd would roar in appreciation before Fang kicked into the next song just as suddenly. When they finally did take a short break, Aaron Beam stepped up to the mic and said “We’re gonna … Whatever. Fuck it I don’t care about talking. We’re playing more songs now.”

They mixed a handful of new songs in with the setlist which was pretty exciting but the fans instantly knew what was going on when David Sullivan started stretching out the intro to ‘Wires’ and the pit got much more aggressive. It was definitely their most popular song of the night and up at the merch desk, Danny from King of the North was too busy air drumming to serve the fans who were a little bemused by it when all they were doing was trying to buy t-shirts.

With their amps up to 11, Red Fang took the Prince Bandroom on a ride direct from hell and proved why James Young called them the greatest rock band in the world right now.

Lee Snipes

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