Factory Theatre, Sydney
Saturday, July 1st 2023
JUST WHAT WERE WE looking at here? The mullet/moustache combination of current bass player, Deon Slaviero, was a mix of John Oates and David Boon. Guitarists Alex Cameron and Ali Wells and drummer Miles Wilson, in flannies or t-shirts, looked like the mates you could trust to bring back your West End draught without spilling a drop, but who would laugh themselves sick if you asked for a G&T.
Meanwhile singer Ben Marwe, in zippered track suit top and cap (a look mimicked throughout the room) didn’t need to convince anyone when he bellowed “I’ve had a gutful of you” between lurching prowls and a swing of the microphone stand.
Blokes. In your face. Probably pissed off. That’s what we had. You’d cross the room from them on your way to the bar just in case. You’d assume they’re knocking off some Radiators covers across three sets every Sat’dy arvo. Yeah, not for me eh.
Which is a shame as you’d miss not just good craic and sharp talk (Marwe’s lyrics are nonsense-free, politically charged and personal) but a whole heap of canny, exciting rock and roll.
Capable of controlled fury, disarming melody twists and a kind of beery (but not as leery) danceability that reminds of Bon-era AC//DC, Bad//Dreems can’t be said to sneak up on you exactly. But because they don’t let your assumptions settle for long, they remain a constant surprise.
A thunderous rolling tide; a choppy, tersely dramatic reminder The Angels were all-but a punk band; a Last Train To Clarksville riff leading into a bluesy boogie; a set done and dusted in under an hour then an encore beginning with didge, sticks and Indigenous dancers that blows out into a raucous take on Warrumpi Band’s Blackfella/Whitefella.
Which brings up another thing. The last of the three support acts, the reconstituted Children Collide - whose newish bass player, Chelsea Wheatley, is legitimately awesome by the way - channelled a kind of specific ‘90s: musical certainly, with its whole-body commitment to shades of grunge-meets-the-last-of-indie-rock, but in its narrowness of subject matter, lyrical as well.
Bad//Dreems look like they should be more limited in everything from tone to topics – did I mention blokes? – but in fact their range, historical and musical, is wide and deep.
This is a smart band. A really good one.