words & photos: Rick Clifford (@rcstills)
“Maybe it’s just the genre in general that creates this vibe of urgency meets possibility, but its enough to generate self inflection in a culture that would otherwise gloss over such things.”
The word palatable gets passed around a lot, my friends. But the energy and “angst ready” vibe was just that at the Croxton bandroom for Idles second sold out show in Melbourne. To say I’d been amped to check these guys out would be an understatement.
After first witnessing their performance on ‘Later.. With Jools’ I was intrigued. So, many interviews and mobile phone shot footage views later, I was all in.
Melbourne’s own post punk “up and comers”(what does that even mean) – Bench Press took to the stage like a well oiled and slightly aggressive machine. Singer Jack Stavrakis paces back and forth like an animal afflicted with severe stereotypies, this internalised & reserved aggression sporadically leaked out in fits of emotive well placed deliveries.
The bulk of their set taking from their 2017 self-titled release, a well rehearsed and poignant jab at the boujwazee. BP were in fine form and sounding tighter than a band established well before their inception in 2016. Tracks like ‘Four Plus’ being the slowest in the set but still maintaining a tension and fierceness consistent throughout the entire 45 minute allocated time slot. If there is one thing these guys have nailed early on in there sound, its to make interesting intricate jams the forefront of their style. ‘Burning Up’ being heavy on the grooves with Jack’s abrasive vocal style keeping the edge of the bands vibe from flailing into more pop heavy waters. Get amongst these lads if you haven’t yet.
In their short time amongst the severe spotlight, Idles have maintained a front of aggressive positivity that flows both through their music in lyrical content, live show and off the stage as well. Having formed in 2009 the better part of 10 years was spent playing in clubs in Bristol putting together a live performance and collection of songs that is both enigmatic in nature(given the heavy punk roots) and cathartic. Touching on many subjects of divide, collectively owning the stage, Idles making every square inch of it touched, covering it in the aggressive sweats and spits.
Singer Joe Talbot has a reserved intensity that seems to create more of an atmosphere than that of one of outright aggression. Opening the set with breakout hit ‘Colossus’ the feeling of its-about-to-kick-off-an-minute-fuckers is almost too intense for most to handle with punters already throwing down before the songs actually kicked in, after the brief reprieve of silence mid song, it does kick off and insanity ensues. Backing this up by kicking into ‘Never Fight A Man With A Perm’ the relentlessness that is Idles is fully on show and the energy of the set never waivers much more than this. Highlights come in the form of ‘Danny Nedelko’s’ almost stadium worthy chorus warranting hands and bodies to commence flight.
Stand out moments are when Joe addresses the crowd on subjects close to him and the band, all things from body image, immigration compassion, toxic masculinity, healthcare, politics and the quality of coffee and humans in Melbourne.
There’s plenty of passion throughout the set that you can’t help but feel apart of the bigger picture in which they touch on. Its empowering and I’m super grateful to witness such compassion in a genre that is writhe with negativeness - by definition.. fuck the system and all that. With Idles overall outlook being that it starts with self and goes outward from there. Maybe it’s just the genre in general that creates this vibe of urgency meets possibility, but its enough to generate self inflection in a culture that would otherwise gloss over such things.