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The Sunnyboys by Kerry Kissell March 2016
The Sunnyboys by Kerry Kissell March 2016

Hoodoo Gurus, Violent Femmes, Sunnyboys, Died Pretty, Ratcat.
Words Greg Phillips. All pics Kerry Kissell

The astute folks from A Day On The Green, in conjunction with the local traffic management authority had us weave through a labyrinth of country roads and laneways in order to alleviate major highway congestion and arrive at the Rochford Winery car park hassle free. Always thinking those people, always looking at ways to make a punter’s day better.

Welcome to Victoria’s tropical Yarra Valley. Visually, a dull autumnal day. In reality, thirty plus on the gauge and a cloud congested sky couldn’t prevent the mugginess from enveloping our bodies. Luckily it wasn’t too difficult to find a drink.

Ratcat by Kerry Kissell March 2016Ratcat were all fuzzed up and ready to go. Their moment in Australian rock history was short but sharp. In the early nineties, they were the first independent band to go mainstream, enjoying several alt-rock hit singles. Their 1991 EP Tingles sold an astonishing 100,000 copies. Songs such a Tingles, Dont Go Now and That ‘Aint Bad captured the imagination of Australia’s music loving public back then and judging by the reaction to the songs today, they’re still very much in the hearts and minds of music fans.

I want one of lead singer Simon Day’s guitars. It looks like a variation on an Epiphone 335, maybe it’s a Wildkat or a Broadway, in a beautiful deep metallic plumb red. It would perfectly match my Rochford cabernet and complement my vintage cheddar cheese platter. You get those kind of thoughts when you’re viewing a gig from the comfort of a bean bag. When I say viewing, I mean experiencing via osmosis. A woman in front of me wearing a doily and a bad hat stands directly in the space between me and the band. She’s scoffing chardy with her friends for the duration of Ratcat’s set, not once did they view the stage. They could be at any winery in Australia today doing the same thing, why the one with the bands?

Ron Peno Died Pretty by Kerry Kissell March 2016Died Pretty hit the stage, one of the acts I was most keen on seeing however doily women is still blocking my potentially luxurious ground-level view, her posse has grown and they’ve yet to acknowledge the music. Should I say something? In the spirit of the harmony which imbues these ADOTG events, I move to a more elevated area. Ron Peno is one of the most charismatic frontmen in Australian music. He immerses himself in the moment. Initially, Ron’s a little croaky but a passionate version of D.C. from the band’s landmark album Doughboy Hollow coerces sections of the audience to their feet from their deck chairs. With Sweetheart, a groundswell of bodies are now gyrating. By the time the jangling intro to Harness Up rings out through the Yarra Valley, Peno, Myers, Hoey, Welsh and Clark have made their presence felt. It’s been seven years since the band last toured nationally and there are still a few dates remaining. Catch them if you can.

Anyone who saw the documentary ‘The Sunnyboy’ on ABC TV last year, which followed the journey of the band’s frontman Jeremy Oxley’s battle with schizophrenia, would have been delighted to see Oxley and co is such fine form today. As demonstrated on their recently released new live album ‘Best Seat In The House’, Sunnyboys played with energy, purpose and were as solid as they’ve ever been. More importantly the joy emanating from the crowd was mirrored ten fold on the faces of the band. The performance was nothing short of triumphant. With such killer pop rock hits such as Happy Man, Alone With You and Show Me Some Discipline in your repertoire, why wouldn’t it be? Oxley summed up the situation perfectly before playing No Love Around, when he announced “that ‘aint a problem here today”. Sadly, the band’s longtime drummer Bil Bilson wasn’t there to share the glory as he’s battling some serious health issues. Our thoughts go out to Bil and family.

The Sunnyboys 3 Rochford Wines by Kerry Kissell March 2016
Milwaukee’s finest Violent Femmes caught the toilet-breakers by surprise when they opened with their massive global hit ‘Blister in The Sun’. Featuring an extended band line-up which included Hunters & Collectors’ trumpet player Jack Howard, the Femmes played an eclectic set of their familiar 80s alt-punk fare plus a selection of tracks from their new album, We Can Do Anything, their first in 16 years. Direct from a celebrated performance at Womadelaide a day prior, college rock hits, Kiss Off, Gimme The Car, Add It Up and American Music were roady ready and rockin’.

Gordon Gano and Brian Ritchie V Femmes by Kerry Kissell March 2016

A fun, dynamic set from Hoodoo Gurus is one of life’s constants. The band just never disappoints. Kicking off with Bittersweet, the Gurus dispatched hit after rollicking hit. Moving from Tojo, a song penned when they were merely one of many bright eyed indie rock bands gigging around Richmond pubs to the more recent Cracking Up from 2009’s Purity of Essence, the guys were in sizzling form. Dave Faulkner took time to honour recent fallen music heroes George Martin, Jon English and electronic rock pioneer Keith Emerson, whose death occurred overnight. The song 1000 Miles Away has always conjured feelings of reflection and contemplation, even more so on a balmy Victorian night aided by a spectacular mood-laden stage light show. If Come Anytime¬† and a day’s consumption of fine Victorian vino hadn’t already set the crowd off their chops, then What’s My Scene and Like Wow Wipeout put the result beyond doubt.

Hoodoo Gurus Rochford Wines by Kerry Kissell March 2016

More than just a collection of great alternative rock bands from ‘the day’ churning out their hits, collectively today’s bill was all about recreating a time, a place and a feeling. The nostalgia in the air was as palpable as the humidity. Congratulations to the A Day On The Green promoters for getting this one so right, not that I can recall them ever being wrong but each of these wonderful bands complemented each other fabulously.

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