The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world








28 OCTOBER 2012



ROCK IT! 2012
29 OCTOBER 2012

with...  The Panics, Lanie Lane, Last Dinosaurs, San Cisco, The Kill Devil Hills, Abbe May, Royal Headache, Graveyard Train, Brothers Grim, The Toot Toot Toots and Emperors




The Rock It Festival made a welcome return this year after an absence of three years with this year’s headliner coming from one of the bands of the moment The Black Keys. This year it’s great again to see a predominantly Australian line-up, with two of 2009’s acts: Birds of Tokyo and Abbe May both climbing the bill.




This year there’s also quite a diverse side stage hosting a lot of up and coming talent. Kings of the side stages this year for us at least are two contrasting bands: Graveyard Train who peddle a rather sinister brand of doom-laden, death obsessed but mesmerising brand of country rock. And then there’s Royal Headache who play earlier than advertised, losing the opportunity to catch the tail-end of Birds of Tokyo’s crowd. In truth their singer sounds like he really doesn’t want to be there at all, which is a shame as the high energy catchy punk they play is edgy and consistent enough to grab and keep your attention.







Abbe May is always good value live and is one of the highlights of a morning that showcases some great talent and while Lanie Lane’s rockabilly may be a little confusing for some of the crowd there’s great reactions to local heroes Kill Devil Hills especially. It’s the punk country of Melbourne’s Brothers Grimm though that really gets the party started for this reviewer: they really are a band that you need to see and preferably in a sweaty club.




Graveyard Train second last on the side stage open with ‘Even witches like to go out dancing’ and it’s a great introduction to a rather odd but strangely compelling half hour, laden with screams, infectious grooves and barbershop vocals laid atop what sounds like metallized country.




As a band they come across like the bastard son of Tom Waits invented country when hung-over and who finds himself having to force it all out with drunken songs that sound at times like demented sea shanties. Lyrically it’s pretty much all about death as the band readily admits from stage, but it’s done with such conviction and humour that it just works. There's elements of folk in there too and a guy smashing chains with a hammer which may become de rigueur one day of course…




These guys are good and cool enough to have a bassist with a Motorhead T-shirt, in a set that seems way to short we get some great banjo, what sounds like Cowboy film music, a great song called ‘Tall Shadow’ that you cab hear Johnny Cash covering (that fact he’s no longer with us shouldn’t matter) and a three distinct voices and screams. Check them out!




Royal Headache’s singer tonight seems to have an issue with the world, which is a shame as what they play is pretty much infectious pop with a punk sheen, there’s some early SLF in there and maybe a dab of Offspring but with a change of pace they can sound like any of a hundred different sludge popsters of the 90’s. So while the  guy can certainly sing he seems rather disappointed at the crowd (of about 70 or so) and is back and forth like a caged bear, at one point he seems to have a bit of a pop at the Black Keys before launching into ‘Pity’ and ‘Carolina’ which really do make you sit up and take notice. For some unknown reason the band takes the stage much sooner than advertised and as a result miss the opportunity to catch the end of the Birds of Tokyo crowd and that seems to have fuelled the frustration and as the Birds crowd start to make their way over the band can offer little more than the rather splendid ‘Honey Joy’ before pulling the plug.











The John Butler trio seem to be the go-to band for festivals over the last who knows how many years and it gets to the stage sometimes when you feel that familiar with his music that it largely washes over you. Thankfully he’s on his podium again stirring up the kids against the Barnett Government and Woodside’s crazy gas plant scheme in the beautiful North of our State which looks to ruin one of the most pristine and beautiful parts of our country in return for a few bags of silver.  ‘Treat Your Mother With respect’ follows the teasing tirade.




John Butler is pretty much a crowd pleaser today, happy to sit third on the bill and roll out a greatest hits set and he always seems to somehow leave the stage with more fans than he did when he took it.







The Birds of Tokyo walk on after a reggae infused intro tape and in truth it’s almost certain that a lot of the crowd here tonight are here to see Birds as they are the headliners. There’s a great light show though early on they are content to sit under primary colours and tease the photographers.




Ian Kenny may come from the Peter Garrett school of dance and arm waving and have facial hair that would make your grandad proud but he knows how to get a reaction out of a crowd quicker than most men with a full beard and quasi-Hawaiian shirt could muster! Tw songs in the crowd is moving as one and when he says clap the crowd claps!




There’s plenty of new songs from the EP tonight and it’s immediately clear that almost everyone here must have a copy judging by the almost perfect lip-synching. ‘Nervous’ perhaps gets the best early reaction though very quickly ‘This Fire’ tops that   









1.Howlin' for You
2.Next Girl
3.Run Right Back
4.Same Old Thing
5.Dead and Gone
6.Gold on the Ceiling
8.Girl On My Mind
9.Your Touch
10.Little Black Submarines
11.Money Maker
12.Strange Times
13.Sinister Kid
14.Nova Baby
15.Ten Cent Pistol
16.Long Gone
17.Tighten Up
18.Lonely Boy
19.I Got Mine




On after a salsa and blues backing tape the Black Keys on paper are unlikely headliners. As a band I’ve watched and loved since the early days it’s interesting to think a couple of years back I was watching them at the Charles Hotel play to a not quite capacity room.  Tonight it’s a different story with drums to front of stage and a couple of extra band members in tow.




Four songs in with full band and you start to really appreciate what a great guitarist Auerbach is: full of life and energy while somehow managing to reel off perfect riffs and solos. By the time ‘Dead and Gone’ (with it’s almost feminine lead vocal) comes most of the crowd is onboard, tough its pretty clear that most of them aren’t particularly familiar with The Black Key’s back-catalogue.




From mild enthusiasm ‘Gold on The Ceiling’ the current Black Keys Australian single elicits something more. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such and instant upswing in a crowd and it’s great to see the promoter rocking out with the reviewer from the daily paper.




One thing you notice about The Black Keys is how much more beguiling these songs are live and how much more depth and warmth they seem to have.







After ‘Gold’ comes the highlight of the night for me as the band reverts back to a duo and do what they always did best – make a helluva racket with songs like ‘Thickfreakness’ and ‘Girl on My Mind’. Dan even reminisces about that gig at The Charles Hotel. And in the thickness of the truer bluesier Black Keys you can sense that some are won over and some are a little confused, though I’m happy to say that those ‘won over’ appear to be in the majority.




And it's here with the older tracks that the set peaks for me but at the same time you sense the slight lull in the crowd that may only own ‘El Camino’ digitally. Proof in the pudding is probably the insane reaction to ‘Lonely Boy’ and the wonderful closer ‘I Got Mine’.  




Music to dance to and a night to remember. Long Live Rock It!




words and images by Mark Diggins