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The Bennies did Christmas a little different at the John Curtin Hotel

Ah, Christmas. The old upright piano pulled next to the crackling fire; the whole family gathered around singing carols while father belts out a few choice chords; and eggnog aplenty as the dog runs around joyously in reindeer antlers. Yeah, nah. Thank god The Bennies were in town to save us all from the cheesy nightmare.
 
Coming off the back of a huge year conquering the globe, The Bennies graced their home town with an intimate show before hitting the big summer festival circuit. The John Curtin played host, and the way these guys thrashed out their set, it could well have been the venue’s last. Banger after banger had the place shaking at its foundations. Solid support came from the up and coming Private Function – whose performance included fast, thrashy punk while throwing gifts and glowsticks out to the audience ­– ­and The Flying So High-Os. The crowd was also treated to another surprise Chrimbo gift, in the form of a loud set by good mates The Smith Street Band, who really brought the ruckus early. If you weren’t at least five pints deep and drenched in sweat by the end of their set, then you were probably not in the building.
 
 When The Bennies emerged just after 11, to the nostalgic sounds of Bomfunk MCs Freestylers, the atmosphere was pretty electric, and if you hadn’t already pumped up your ‘90s Nike Airs and strapped on elbow pads, now was the time. The tremendous success of these guys over the past two years has meant that just about every track is almost an anthem to their ever increasing legion of fans. The sole security guard nearly gave up trying to intervene as the stage was mobbed by fans jumping on the mic with lead singer Anty. Stagediving, moshing and crowd surfing were all par for the course.
 
This was everything a Melbourne gig should be, and how refreshing it was to escape Michael Bublé and Mariah Carey for a few hours of absolute punk/ska bliss. They really weren’t bullshitting us on their first hit single off Wisdom Machine; these guys are serious party machines.
 
Highlight: Tossing my unwitting mate up into the mixer for his first ever crowd surf.
Lowlight: Drinking beer out of plastic (but maybe a good call considering the ruckus).
Crowd Favourite: Couldn’t split it song-wise, so I’ll go with the communal glowing sombrero that did the rounds in the mosh.
 
Image by Ian Laidlaw