Ever since I started regularly going to gigs in Melbourne, Sex on Toast have been the one band that has been almost universally recommended that I go and see. Up until now I hadn’t had the chance to get to one of their shows but I changed all that by heading to their single launch at The Toff In Town on Saturday night.

Peter Bibby was on stage as I arrived, singing stories like a foul-mouthed Paul Kelly. Self-proclaimed as ‘the most delinquent musician at this gig,’ the troubador’s Aussie accent twanged as much as his resonator guitar through a borrowed amp that, by his own account, he was scared to adjust. The audience paid it no mind though, enjoying the suffering of Bibby’s characters, which he conveys through his honest vocals.

From the second The Cactus Channel took the stage, the ten piece barely gave any room for a breath, delivering 45 minutes of wall to wall bold brass and funk grooves. The set focused heavily on newer material, and didn’t seem to feature much at all from their debut record, Haptics. Personally I would have liked to hear ‘Emanuel Ciccolini’ but in all honesty the set didn’t seem to be poorer for its absence, and the way the crowd was moving was testament to that.

As The Toff’s bandroom was becoming a veritable sauna, welcome relief from the Winter cold, the curtains peeled back to reveal a screen onto which was projected the immortal image of Molly Meldrum in his starring role of the video for ‘Oh Loretta!’ The screen receded and the gents from Sex on Toast were on stage in the same spangly outfits from the hilariously macabre video. What followed was an hour or so of intense jams that had the entire dancefloor happily sweating, and some fans around me throwing a balloon heart around like a beach ball.

While I was enjoying the throwback sounds and spectacular harmonies Angus Leslie and co were laying down, I found myself wondering about how serious Sex on Toast are. The music is incredible – the musicianship even more so – but they include elements of humour in the songs and that made me think that maybe they take the comedic aspects incredibly seriously. That, combined with the excess of it all – keyboards through a talkbox, 8 people singing, often all at once and, at one point, a song closing scream off between Leslie and Zak Pidd, and a horn section that occasionally included a bassoon – made them one of the most fun bands I have ever had the pleasure of seeing.

Wes Fahey


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