word & photos: Rick Clifford @rcstills
“This would for the most part be the calmest time of the night.”
It's a Saturday night and it’s cold. What better way to escape the miserable ball shrinking weather than to cram into the Tote bandroom for some warm and fuzzy rainbow coloured hardcore toons!
Looking around I find the bandroom mostly vacant, 5 minutes before Japan's own Nowa are to take the stage. One thing I've come to notice about these types of shows is that very few people crowd in early to stake out prime standing space, as generally that space becomes occupied by legs and fists within a matter of seconds.
Being that these Japan natives are relatively new to the Melbourne albiet Australian scene the later was unfortunately not the case. Though Nowa brought all the tight and expected elements one would find at a hardcore gig, punters were more incline to watch and thrash heads when the optimal riffage called for it. This isn't to say that Nowa didn't go down a damn treat. By the second song the room had adequately filled out for an opening set with every song garnishing accolades fitting to that of a headliner. These boys were tight and to the point with stand out track Jack The Ripper winning over the Melbourne crowd early on.
Looking at the drumkit for Arse, comprised of a bass drum, snare, crash ride and hi hats, I was unsure what the TU team had lined up as their main support for this tour. To my pleasant surprise, Arse brought the heavy dynamics to the game early on in their set and held that for an entire 45 minutes.
Their mix of boisterous lyrics and bass heavy drives, carried the bulk of this set. Add to this mix singer Dan Cunningham's sporadic and time bending guitar tones the obvious choice as a main support for TU is apparent. Songs like NRVSNRG & Primitive Man stand out like dogs balls and the now jammed band room reciprocate accordingly. This 3 piece packing more of a punch through the use of useful dynamics and tone driven bedrock.
If you haven't seen a Totally Unicorn show, I'm "Sorry"(pun intended..?), they're fun as shit! The band donned in the juxtapositional attire of rainbow coloured threads, amidst the wash of sweaty chaotic riffage, creates an atmosphere all to its own. Where once, the exclusive blackness of hardcore reigned supreme, the breathe of smokey rainbow filled fresh air is on the rise.
In support of their latest single, 'Sorry', the Totally Unicorn lads opened with the almost ritualistic smoking of two giant cigarettes. This would for the most part be the calmest time of the night. Just like their adorned clothing as a staple to a TU shows, so is it for singer Drew Gardner to spend the bulk of his time amidst the fists, legs and spilt beer. Amongst all the chaos that is happening it's refreshing to see the amount of times both Drew and the punters do double takes, making sure everyone is okay, post fall(read fall on).
Whilst go-to TU tracks like ‘Grub’ and ‘Prize Pig’ stand out amongst the onslaughts of riffs and mayhem, a rare moment in their set is stripped down to play single 'I'll Be Fine Now'.. a sombre but much needed breathe to break up the set.
Sparing no time to cut back into things(not particularly happier things) with 'Alley (Fucking) Cats' sees the immediate 180 turn in vibe, as the fists, legs, beer and Drew return to the soup of humans pooling in the middle of the pit. Leaving everything everywhere, the TU lads smash out 'A Song For The Deadshits' before leaving the stage to a wall of feedbacking guitar. No encore required, respect.