Live Review: Stonecutters (Night #2) – Queen’s Theatre, Adelaide (17.09.16)

It’s rare that you get an event like Stonecutters come through Adelaide with as much gusto as this event has done now, two years running. It’s grown up for 2016, moving to the larger digs of the old Queen’s Theatre and expanded over two nights instead of cramming bands into one. Boasting a line up of some of our finest touring rock artists, I heard Friday night’s line up set a decent precedent for what was lined up for the second night of the mini-festival on the Saturday.

It was rainy, cold and dank outside but it didn’t fuck with the vibe too much on the inside, I realised when I rocked up just ahead of Alex The Kid‘s set early on. The Geraldton punk band relished being on stage despite their early set time and had a good crowd gathered, eager to get a bit loose. I’d heard how crazy things had gotten the night before and was expecting more people to be here again early but as the night would progress, the crowd would also steadily build.

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Battlehounds and Young Offenderperformed back to back as the night started to hit full gear – two bands I’ve not been able to see much of this year, which has sucked. In both there exists solid potential I can’t wait to be further explored before the end of the year and as we emerge into 2017; the resurgence of well-crafted, guitar-driven musicianship is one that is thriving in Adelaide at the moment and given time, both Battlehounds and Young Offenders stand to really come through and shine.

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West Thebarton Brothel Party and Grenadiers came through next and it was pretty fair to say that everyone knew what they were in for with these two on the bill. West Theb, who I have been banging on about like a broken record since BIGSOUND the week previous, returned to the Adelaide stage in fine form even though they were missing three members (Tom Gordon and Josh Battersby touring with Horror My Friend in Melbourne, while drummer Hugh Black had Sleep Talk‘s Michael Belletti step into fill his shoes for this show). Still, proving that their music can pack just as much of a punch as a five piece as it does when the full seven-headed beast is together, West Thebarton Brothel Party got the crowd riled up quickly.

I hadn’t seen Grenadiers play since we were in the UK for The Great Escape back in May, so it was great to see them again. The band has become one of Adelaide’s tightest live bands in the last year and it’s been great to see the hard yards they’ve put into touring around the country and abroad through 2016 pay off so well with the live show they’re currently rocking. Between Jesse Coulter and Phil Meakin thrashing back and forth and feeding off each other’s energy on guitar and bass respectively, Jimmy Balderston‘s drumming ensured a frenetically rapid pace was kept going strong throughout the set – it didn’t allow for the crowd to fall into any type of lull, nor did the band as a unit rest at any moment either.

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Headlined by Dune Rats, who were playing their last show in Australia before their overseas jaunt with DZ Deathrays, the Saturday night of Stonecutters’ program leant heavily on local Adelaide bands, with Dunies popped in as the cherry on top of a sweaty, euphoric, beer-soaked, weed-reeking cake. Of course, by the time the Brisbane trio took to the stage just after 11pm, the theatre venue was comfortably full and liquored up for the havoc the “Bullshit”-purveyors are renowned for wreaking. And to give the rest of the line up their due, the stage had been more than warmed up.

Dunies arrived as chilled as you’d expect and wasted no time in throwing down a triple whammy of well-known tunes to make their presence properly known. As it was quipped to me within the first ten or so minutes of their set, ‘Those guys have to be three of the most switched-on stoners in Australian music’ – probably one of the most apt descriptions of the band I’ve heard in a long time. Behind all the ‘Fuck its’, attempts at covering Bernard Fanning’s “Wish You Well” and shoeys, you can tell by watching Dune Rats on stage that now, possibly more than every, they’re a trio of guys who know exactly what they’re doing. Sure, they know how to have fun and still get loose as fuck, but the music has become tighter in its delivery and they know how to get the reaction they want from a crowd without having to do much heavy lifting at all.

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Emerging back out into the cold, rain soaked CBD; it was hard not to walk away impressed by the party the Stonecutters crew had put on for Adelaide music fans over the past two nights. A commendable feat; there still was a grassroots, DIY element to the proceedings that made for a fun environment and the people there on Saturday night (I’m sure Friday night was the same too), made the most of it. Can’t wait to see what next year brings.

All AU watermarked images by John Goodridge.