On a raucous, warm Saturday night in Canberra, on the two-year anniversary of the marriage equality vote, Melbourne post-punk princes Destrends took over Transit Bar for their ‘Medication’ tour.
Ably supported by Canberra bands Paint Store and Slagatha Christie, Destrends tore up Transit in an intimate, powerful and very dance-worthy set.
Destrends’ theatrical, raw brand of post-punk is better in real life than in recordings – when you see them perform, you get the sense Destrends were destined to be on stage.
First, let’s talk the look. The boys were dressed like they were the protagonists of an art-gothic, post-apocalyptic film, which is not a look everyone can pull off without seeming pretentious or just a little bit silly. But the band utterly commits to their avant-garde look, while not taking themselves too seriously, and it absolutely works for them.
Frontman Matt Savage was completely compelling, and not just because he was wearing an asymmetrical corset (black and feathered, of course), or sporting a thick band of red paint across his eyes. Sure, his outfit was mesmerising, but also he was wild and then restrained and then wild again, prowling around the audience, knocking over his beer, and belting out tunes from ‘Missing People’ to ‘My Friend’, as well as their new single ‘Medication’.
The rest of the band – Nathan Savage on bass, Liam Burgan on drums and Billy Watts on guitar – were just as fun to watch. They all clearly love playing music together, especially Nathan, who would occasionally look at his brother singing his heart out and break out into a broad smile.
All in all, it was a pretty great Saturday night. Paint Store and Slagatha Christie are Canberra mainstays for a reason, and they reminded us of that fact with two fun, high energy support sets. In particular, Slagatha Christie got the crowd fired up with a spirited and sloppy rendition of My Chemical Romance’s ‘Welcome to the Black Parade’.
The audience was captivated from start to finish, a testament to how absolutely engaging Destrends was. There were singalongs, cowbells and dancing, with a highlight being an excellent, rollicking Talking Heads cover, complete with Savage inviting audience members to come on stage to line dance and sing along.
‘Medication’ marks Destrends’ first single in several years, so hopefully some new music is on the horizon. The new single is a yell into the void about climate change, painting a bleak picture of a very real-seeming dystopian future resulting from said climate change. It’s about the apathy and greed of our political leaders, as well as corporations. It’s a fierce song, perfect for our times, and Destrends imbues the track with the urgency and fire the subject matter deserves. It will certainly be interesting to see what the post-punkers have lined up after making their dramatic return.
In the meantime, Destrends will be playing the last date of their ‘Medication’ tour at Stay Gold in Melbourne, on 23 November. You can listen to the new single on Bandcamp or Spotify.