What is it with Melbourne CBD planners? I feel like we are one gastro-pub or brand-spanking new apartment complex away from living in a Jetsons-esque world where all the good, gritty bits of life are obscured by IKEA kitchens and dishes of toasted quinoa with fried avocado.
Cherry Bar is the hot topic of conversation lately as a developer has been allowed to build a 189-unit apartment block behind ACDC Lane (check out Industrial for more information, eh?). Word is, people who like fancy new apartments might not like loud laneway festivals happening below their balconies. Word is, first in, best dressed, yeah? Lord knows the CBD can’t lose its premier annual rock festival.
Cherry Rock012, the festival’s sixth incarnation, was the first time the festival had sold out and boy could you feel it. It was a day of cutting through the crowd to secure prime position for whatever face-meltingly awesome band was due for the stage.
Dusting off the previous night by mid-afternoon, I arrived to witness local stalwarts Even sharing their milestones, beautifully framed by the outdoor Cherry Bar stage. Ash Naylor laid down Rock And Roll Save My Life, the audience expressively nodded along, convinced that, on a day like today, it probably could.
Inside on the Music Victoria stage I unwisely positioned myself behind an Akubra hat with a tall man attached to it and prepared for my first taste of the much-hyped King Of The North. Erupting into an epic explosion of sound, I craned my neck to take in the singer/guitarist, then the drummer, and then spent about five more neck-wrenching minutes on my tippy-toes searching for the other band members. Were they lying down? Were they in the crowd? Were they ghosts? It soon dawned upon me that this sheer volume of noise was, in fact, coming from a deceptively small amount of band members. Shit son. They even got the late afternoon crowd, still suffering largely from a dreaded case sobriety, involved in a sing along of a previously unperformed song. Impressive.
James Young dutifully introduced each band in his bright blue sequin onesie and trademark cowboy hat. In talking up the next band to take the outside stage, he solemnly swore he’d “take a bullet for these guys”.
The Ramshackle Army are a Melbourne-based Celtic punk band, recently returned from a month-long USA tour with the Dropkick Murphys – an unusual tilt away from the straight rock’n’roll genre this festival is notorious for. The band claimed intoxication, then exploded into an expertly-executed pulsating set of incredible Irish-influenced tracks. It was the most fun I’ve ever had near a fiddle.
Inside was stacked shoulder-to-shoulder as Bitter Sweet Kicks were joined by a rough and tumble crew of fun makers, flinging themselves around the Music Victoria stage like pinballs. The rowdiest fuckers of the day, the band’s antics, including a naked bass player, were matched only by the quality of their sound.
Black Cobra positioned themselves in front of their instruments, took a deep breath, and began belting out their rhythmic sludge metal that clogged laneway with noise for near to an hour. It felt like a simultaneous spine stomp and brain massage, but in the best way. Big.
By this stage, the extra crowd numbers and their insatiable thirst for loud noises made entering the room for Jackson Firebird physically impossible. Reports were good.
Fu Manchu hadn’t graced our shores for over a decade, which seems insane given the avid appreciation Australians have for them. They took to the outdoor stage, flinging fistfuls of sonic fuzzed-out stoner rock across the extremely energised Cherry Rock crowd. Regal Begal had knees crumbling and heads banging, and each song seemed to be pushed to its very limit. For a minute there, I was worried heads would explode.
For all of us poor Monday-slaving saps, the early-enough wrap up time was the cherry on top of, um, Cherry Rock 2012. As James Young himself put it, it’s “like getting a giant group hug from the rock’n’roll community of Melbourne,” with about that much full body contact if you managed to elbow your way to the front of the laneway.
We can’t lose it.
BY T-BOMB STENVEI
photo credit: Tony Proudfoot
LOVED: Cherry Rock012.
HATED: Just this one guy, who was filling his mouth with beer and then spitting it over the crowd. Get bent, dingus.
DRANK: Too many tinnies.