The Sunflower Lounge
Review by SdM
Delicately coiffured vocal harmonies, light complex jazz chords. Musical pieces modulating daring key changes over intricately subtle rhythms and playful nuanced accents. That was happening somewhere on a stage in Britain but it sure wasn’t The Sunflower lounge on August 5th. No, SKEGSS are about as subtle as a pack of dingos crashing your ‘barbie’ and shitting on your prize dahlias [for Aussie readers dahlias are fancy plants].
The heat was rising steadily in The Sunflower Lounge and the sold-out crowd were packed tight around the stage. The loud but good natured crowd bemused a confused looking SKEGSS with overly enthusiastic chants of “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie. Oi! Oi! Oi!” to the …er… ‘tune’ of “Oggy, Oggy Oggy”. One can only assume this 70’s era call-and-response of the last-orders’ piss-head never quite reached Australia’s golden shores. Lucky sods. From the first note the crowd went wild. The sea of bodies were pinging off each other like pool-balls in a dive bar. Arms and feet appeared above the crowds’ heads at regular intervals, and the crowd-surfing began in earnest. It was hectic and chaotic and for anyone looking on it may have appeared hazardous. In truth it probably was but…it makes a nice change from cream teas and cucumber sandwiches.
The descent of man: as is customary at a SKEGSS gig the last few thousand years of human endeavour, – social, cultural and biological evolution – is summarily wiped from the collective conscience. A deliriously happy soul – a rather large chap – sweating, fist-pumping, shirtless, his SKEGSS T-shirt wrapped around his head like a bandanna – was hoisted aloft and crowd-surfed for longer than one would have thought possible. It was as if he was being offered up to be sacrificed on the altar of Aussie rock n roll – cans of Fosters, chicken legs and noxious BBQ sauce. The industrial revolution, the moon landing, the combustion engine, the transistor, the wheel – for an hour or so, these, the greatest achievements of mankind, were wiped out, pulverised, rendered to nothing more than mere trifling spectacle as the entire audience participated into something that gradually began to resemble the opening scenes to 2001: A Space Odyssey. Given that this was a gig in Birmingham and not an open-air festival the guy was not sacrificed to a horned-god surrounded by an orgy of blood letting, bone waving, hysterical worshippers, thankfully. And besides, it was Tuesday next day and he probably had a boardroom meeting and a PowerPoint presentation to do. Those insurance policies don’t sell themselves, y’know?
Halfway into the gig the stench of sweaty bodies was forming an assault on your nostrils and the temperature had escalated to such a degree that even your eyeballs could sweat. The three members of SKEGSS were trapped on the stage looking gently on as the carnage took place below. Their selection of self-penned tunes fall just the right side of shouty sing-along anthems coupled to simple hooks, laugh along lyrics and the occasional self piss-taking attempt at a mini-guitar solo. SKEGSS know instinctively how to write songs and put on a show that is simply about having a bloody good time – and that is exactly what happened. Even their angriest of tunes have a backdrop of tongue in cheek irreverence and are means to letting off steam in a relatively healthy way. The straightforward no-nonsense unpretentiousness of it all is like a breath of fresh air – ironic given the pong at the venue.
An introductory excursion of The Velvet Undergrounds ‘I’m Waiting For The Man’ melded into The Pixies ‘Here Comes Your Man’ and was imbued with all the spirit and energy that you could wish for. Back to their own songs and ‘New York California’ summed it all up: “I’m going down to New York, California got my Coca-Cola and I got my cigarettes” – sometimes all you need are the basics to make your day go right. Thank your god, horned or otherwise, that a band like this exists – it’s an hour of outright balls-out, Aussie style raucous fun. A splendid time is guaranteed for all, mate.