Live Review: Mere Women + Terrible Truths + SPIT – The Curtin Hotel, Melbourne (30.06.17)

Relative newcomers SPIT opened the evening, their saccharine garage-punk even more evolved than when I saw them play last. With a triple mustang combo, they were a wall of sound, held together by the razor sharp drumming of Jonnine Nokes.

One of their hallmark features is the alternating, dynamic vocals, shared between guitarists Chloe Turner and Simon Crouch – melodic one second, shouted the next. Guitar leads were varied as they oscillated between guitarists, angular, staccato, Yuck influenced at times.

The on-stage dynamics of this band evolve with each gig, from the very ~cool~ Chloe nearly reclined, crossed at the ankles, to Simon a frenetic ball of energy. Keep an eye on this group; they’re part of a Melbourne movement that’s reclaiming rock from the cis-white-hetero males we see too often, and they’re good at what they do.

Terrible Truths are one of my favourite discoveries from BIGSOUND last year (really, I’m pretty sure I frothed them a little too hard). The Melbourne three piece are one of the most resolute post punk bands I’ve ever seen, each set performed with a kind of terrifying tenacity.

In typical TT style, they burst straight into a track with no warning, no shout outs. Just bustling straight into their trademark chorus-y guitar and high tuned snare. Rani Rose started off wielding the guitar, smearing melodies across tightly punctuated rhythms (drummer Joe Alexander). Stacey Wilson’s bass playing has become even more natural since I saw the group last, a mop of hair, no shoes and relentless energy as she grooved the angular bass lines.

The overlap of Rani’s vocals with Stacey’s nearly haunting, interspersed vocals is something that no other band can replicate. With stop/start rhythms, reverb tinged guitar (think Warpaint’s guitar tone in a post-punk band) and unyielding bass lines, TT’s sound is so unique to them.

There was minimal between song banter as always, before their hallmark mid-set guitar and bass swap occurred. While still delivering lead vocals, Rani took over the bass, her playing plucked and even funkier. There’s no point trying to describe Stacey’s guitar playing; she’s unstoppable.

Sydney’s Mere Women were morose. Not in a bad way. It’s just their sound; dark, with the urgency of post-punk, the ambience of art-rock. This tour followed the release of album Big Skies, with the set heavily featuring tracks from the album. With females again dominating the stage, they proved the lack of necessity for ‘mere’ preceding women. It’s good to be tongue in cheek.

Their sound was heavier than I’d anticipated live, a churning wall of guitar and synth. The vocals were less produced (obviously) than in their recordings, vocalist Amy Wilson delivering a surprisingly menacing performance from behind her synth. The reverb-drenched guitar created the backdrop; a watercolour of sound, painted over by haunting vocals and synth riffs, the rest of the band painting over it with their contributions.

Tracks “Eternally” and “Numb”, both strong tracks from Big Skies, were followed by “Home”, the opener to their 2015’s Your Town. The packed Curtin band room was full of sing a-longs, people dancing in place (as much as dancing is possible to Mere Women). “Come Back” was followed by piano-ballad “Curse”, Amy owning the stage and powerfully delivering the emotive track.

An unexpected discovery from watching the set was the vocal harmonies provided by bassist Trisch Roberts, surprisingly angelic. Her bass tone was wild as well, fed through a chorus pedal, and loud enough to shake the Curtin’s floors. The set was rounded out with “Big Skies”, “Silver and Gold” and “Is This Real?”, the audience appreciation evident by the band not making it off stage before being roused for an encore. Naturally, they encored with “Drive”, the well-received single from Big Skies.

Mere Women aren’t a normal band, with powerful vocals leading over erupting strings, then post-punk sparsity melding to unashamedly groovy breakdowns. Although they’re not a high end or bright sort of band, their low frequencies and intensity more than makes up for it. They’re a band of personas, each member relaying a distinct aesthetic, the sheer passion on their faces showing their music is sourced from an emotional place. I think the best thing about the entire evening, even though there were three amazing bands, a lovely crowd, and plenty of beer, was the fact that males were the minority on the stage. And it was so normal, the way it should be.

Big Skies is available now through Poison City Records, get a copy. It’s a very, very, very good album.

Photo by Shelley Horan.