Are Amyl and The Sniffers the hottest punk band in Melbourne right now?

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Are Amyl and The Sniffers the hottest punk band in Melbourne right now?

Image by Josh Braybrook
melbourne live music
Amyl & The Sniffers - photo by Josh Baybrook
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Words by Saskia Morrison-Thiagu
Photography by Joshua Braybrook

Their relentless Melbourne show proved they simply never miss a beat.

Amyl and The Sniffers put everyone on an instant high at The Tote. The sold-out show was so packed, the entrance was bottlenecked. Meanwhile, fans were scrambling to get tickets on the event’s Facebook page and succumbing to scammers in the process.

Opened by D-beat band Lái and punk outfit ASL, the venue was revelling in its punk roots, having hosted everyone from Cosmic Psychos to Mudhoney to Eddy Current Suppression Ring in its time. I even heard one Boomer say after the show “I’ve been coming here since 1986”.

Amyl and The Sniffers started out as housemates who recorded their first EP in a record 12 hours. Fronted by Amy Taylor (Amyl), her Sniffers are Bryce Wilson (drums), Dec Martens (guitar) and Gus Romer (guitar).

The band represent peak Australian culture – the mullet-toting band are an exemplar of the sharpies of the 1970s. The sharpies were a subculture unique to Australia; regional groups of working-class kids, characterised by their unique dance moves and mullets.

From lyrics about walking to the Westgate, to boogying in Balaclava and a hot day being “alright for St Kilda”, the band are as Aussie as it comes and unique in the anarchic, boisterous and flirty atmosphere they bring. Many fans come just for the vibe and the energy and sass that Taylor brings to every show.

She might be harder than a cat’s head, but Taylor’s got a real sweetness behind her, too. Between songs, she makes off-hand comments about topics ranging from raspberry lemonade to politics and climate change. At one point she jokes about how climate change is going to destroy us, and you bet the northside patrons loved that one – with one patron screaming “The Greens”, from behind me.

The fans are what make The Sniffers’ shows so electric. The entire venue of The Tote was one big mosh, with punters eagerly climbing on stage and then jumping into the crowd’s abyss before resurfacing a few people over. The best part was that the majority of these crowd-surfers were women. Taylor really sets the example for this, crowd-surfing more times than I could count. All while still holding the microphone and bellowing lyrics like “walking to the Westgate” as clear as day.

Taylor has a stage presence that cannot be matched. The Sniffers are by far the best performers I’ve seen live, and I’ve seen Kylie Minogue. The way Taylor shuffles back and forth on stage like a true sharpie, then turns around and winks at the audience. It’s priceless.

“We’ve only got three songs left” said Taylor before The Sniffers finally played their newest tracks ‘Got You’, ‘Monsoon Rock’ and ‘Some Mutts (Can’t Be Muzzled)’. With everyone in the crowd putting their hands up in unity, chanting “you’ve got a new dog, do you remember me?” and “woof, woof”.

Amyl and The Sniffers exit the stage and it almost feels premature. The audience want more but are given blue balls. The Sniffers are done and what they say is what goes, but they’ll be back.

Highlight: When Amy Taylor was literally holding onto the roof in one song, while singing into the mosh below.

Crowd Favourite: Screaming “she’s not a loser” when Taylor gave the microphone to the audience in ‘I’m Not a Loser’.

Lowlight: The guy with the Russell Brand dreads in front of me.