Brisbane venue The Foundry was pitch-black. The only light inside was an exit sign above a door and the red glow of the stage lights. Eyes were fixed to the stage, where Tropical Fuck Storm unleashed chaos upon spectators on the sold-out first stop of their tour in support of their debut album, A Laughing Death In Meatspace.
I arrived just in time for Brisbane-based hardcore punks Ascot Stabber. Initially they appeared to be a fast-chugging trio, but I was corrected upon hearing the cries of their singer, who paced at the front of the stage, mic cord wrapped around his neck, and pushing past anyone obstructing his path. As the set progressed, his pacing turned to stumbling, attracting a larger crowd to their commotion.
Once the adrenaline slowed, Sunshine Coast act Orlando Furious took the stage for a perplexing set. On a table at the mercy of a leaky air-conditioner, Orlando created noisy lo-fi beats for his absurd lyrics, equal parts The Fall and The Mighty Boosh. As he began chanting “I will feed you a loaf of fancy bread”, the crowd grew in size, with dancing far outnumbering puzzlement.
Fans pushed through the crowd to get closer to the stage for Tropical Fuck Storm, who along with a brilliant name also features high-pedigree members. Band members include drummer Lauren Hammel of High Tension, guitarist Erica Dunn of Harmony, and guitarist Gareth Liddiard and bassist Fiona Kitschin of The Drones. All of these bands are excellent, but together they sounded apocalyptic from the first strangled guitar lick of opener “Chameleon Paint”; a contrast to Liddiard’s preferred intro music of “The newest Kanye song – the poopity one”.
Liddiard and Dunn twisted their guitar noise into new shapes, making notes stretch and warp over the grinding noise punctuating “Antimatter Animals”. The band threw their entire bodies into each sound, but it was Liddiard who gave the most physical performance. As Hammel pummelled a Bo Diddley-beat on “Two Afternoons”, a wide-eyed Liddiard wrestled his guitar to the ground and wrangled shrieks from it.
While Liddiard was untamed and ragged, Dunn and Kitschin provided a heavenly chorus to match Liddiard’s madness. The pair chanted “Promises” and “No”, the words wailed over the lurching beat of “Soft Power”. The set was filled with songs bursting with intensity, but a moment of restraint came when the band covered The Divinyls’ “Back To The Wall”. Over a clicking beat, bass, and barely present guitar, Kitschin cooed the Australian classic, filling it with apocalyptic dread.
Tension built with each song, but it finally exploded when the disjointed riff of The Drones’ “Baby2″ closed the show. Choruses devolved into a string of Liddiard’s feral barks, and the crowd matched the band’s energy, turning into a mass of shoving. Liddiard’s stage movements became hazardous to his bandmates, all of whom stood strong. Finally, Liddiard held his guitar above his head for a moment, then collapsing to the floor to make more noise. Along with being a perfect band name, Tropical Fuck Storm is the perfect description for the chaos that took place; they’re fierce, destructive, and unstoppable.
The reviewer attended this show at The Foundry, Brisbane on May 3rd.
Photo by Jamie Wdziekonski.