Rush and Roulette
The Estranged at the Bendigo Hotel and the Tote 12/02/2015, 13/02/2015
Let me just preface this review by saying that The Estranged are a band who I have been really into for a while. You know you like a band when you get their album, you keep it on the flip and your girlfriend begins to get pissed off with how many times you play it. The Estranged is that band. I got into them after discovering another band on Dirtnap Records, The Mind Spiders (who incidentally remind me of Jay Reatard, whose work I love).
The Estranged, are a band that features past and present members of Portland hardcore acts Remains Of The Day, Hellshock, Warcry, and Lebenden Toten. But I don’t really know about any of these. The recent four piece (they used to be a three piece) plays dark post-punk that calls to mind everyone from Joy Division and Echo and the Bunnymen to Australian bands like the New Christs and Radio Birdman to modern garage acts like The Spits.
The Estranged are the kind of band that you listen to and you feel like you have heard their songs before. They have that timeless, classic quality that is very rare. Live was no exception. Hailing from Portland, Oregon, with its rain and hipsters you can imagine that they would fit very nicely into the Melbourne scene; and despite the spaces between the humans in the crowd and the fact that they arrived into Melbourne shortly before they played (after a 15 hour flight), they didn’t fail to deliver. The bass throbs through, directing the sound while the chorus driven 80’s guitar open chords ring out alongside the vocals with answer riffs. The addition of the second guitar fills out the sound and allows the space within the songs to really breathe. The lead singer/guitarist Mark Herman’s vocals have just the right amount of aggression, energy and fuzz which is juxtaposed with his ability to really sing and hold a note.
I loved both the shows and was at pains to understand why both venues weren’t packed to the rafters with punters. It could have had something to do with the line-ups they chose to have for the tour (when a crust punk dude asked at the merch desk what The Estranged are like, the merch guy said “Um kind of post-punky, rock and roll”, the Crust punk dude said “Crust?” and the merch guy explained no, that they were more rock than that, at which the monosyllabic guy attempted to confirm one last time, “crust?” just like he was ‘Groot’ from Gaurdians of the Galaxy and finally turned his nose up and walked off) . The Estranged have also toured with minimal advertising and no real gimmick which Melbourne seems to love (NoBunny, Hunx and his Punks, Gooch Palms, King Kahn) – except when the band is from Melbourne of course – perhaps The Estranged are so Melbourne that the cynical local band goer was unable to truly appreciate them for what they were.
To me The Estranged are the type of band who you could have listened to ten years ago or could put on in ten years time and they wouldn’t be out of place… and that place would be a spanking good one!
Last gig tonight at the NSC with Deep Heat, Miss Destiny, Power 16/02/2015
Live footage from the Bendigo 12/02 and the Tote 13/02