Kicked off of Triple J Unearthed last week for being ‘too commercial’, The Durries are launching their debut EP We Build Schools at The Brightside in Brisbane tonight.
Opening act Sylvia play to a pretty sparse 9pm crowd but are nonetheless sleazily delightful. Each member of the group has a snake-themed stage name, the bass player is dressed in a council worker’s uniform replete with straw hat and they play a scuzzy, shouty brand of synth-infused punk that has very little fucks to give. I met some of these guys after the show and found out that they’re actually musicians from the conservatorium who run their own record label. Check them out.
Next act Surfin’ Bird might be one of Brisbane’s best kept secrets. Regulars at nights like Trainspotters and featuring members of The Medics, it’s been quite some time between gigs for the trio, who play in short and sharp bursts of jangly surf punk. Frontman and lead guitarist Jhindu is battling through a sore throat but manages to hit all the high notes anyway and debuts a new song to a crowd growing in number. There’s a bit of extra punch in the bass tonight and it really shines through on set closers Surf On The Sun and the delirious 12 bar blues jam Down At The Beach.
By the time The Durries take to the stage I’m not sure what to expect. Tone Deaf called them ‘Australia’s most hilarious joke supergroup’ but that’s a little disingenuous. They may have song titles like Marlboro Gold and BnH Smooth and they may have an ashtray for a stage prop with smoke machines shaped and painted like actual cigarettes, but the members of this band are cobbled from established acts like Boss Moxi, Twin Haus and Baskervillain and are by no means slouches musically. I’m absolutely blown away though by just how good they are.
Raucous to say the very least. Frontman Brayden Doig holds sway over proceedings, swaggering onstage and telling everyone to get fucked. He’s the surly bastard child of Jim Morrison and Mike Nolan from The Big Lez Show. Speaking of Morrison, The Doors spring immediately to mind watching these guys play and more than a few people near me are in agreement.
You won’t hear it in the turbocharged garage punk of Marlboro Gold, but you can hear it in the southwestern-flavoured foot-stomping riot BnH Smooth and the breezy cool Lucky Strike. Most of all, you can hear it in the slow burn of Port Royal, truly the highlight of the night for myself and a joy to listen to as it unfolds.
Most of all, you can see it in the sheer stage presence of the band. The energy is at roof levels all set and Doig is as charismatic and entertaining a frontman as I’ve seen, all flailing limbs and hair and snarling. The band play the infectiously surfy, sun-drenched Camel, which is an absolute party of a song that is still stuck in my head, and the bluesy Horizon Purple. In between songs Doig has the crowd in stitches, extolling the virtues and merits of each cigarette brand, peppered with liberal use of the word fuck.
By the time the band rip into the ZZ Top-esque Winnie Blues, that crowd is in a frenzy. There are band members and prop cigarettes flying around everywhere and everyone is having an utter cracker of a time. The band go on an extended jam mid-song before smoothly transitioning to a blistering cover of AC/DC‘s Jailbreak in closing one of the coolest gigs of the year on a massive, crowd-pleasing high.
What an auspicious debut by The Durries. The whole show felt like a debaucherous trip down Route 66, top down and a cloud of cigarette smoke billowing all around you. For all the talk of them being a joke supergroup, they were outrageously good and a live act I’m going to endeavour to catch at every opportunity. I certainly needed to fire up a couple of hot ones after that experience, by God. Expect massive things from these guys.
We Build Schools is out now via Bedlam Records, stream it in its entirety on Soundcloud.