Rocket Science @ The Zoo, Brisbane (01/05/08)

Rocket Science are fucking loud. Volume, however, is the least noticeable difference between tonight’s headliners and their supports.

Gentle Ben & His Sensitive Side sound great from the street, so I’m surprised to find a near-empty room for such a solid line up. They offer a perfect opening set of their alt-country-blues leanings (engaging, but not enough to keep you from the bar) and I miss them when they finish and are replaced by some non-descript CD. Eventually the sound guy jams some –  “80s hip hop in the player (I’m guessing this was chosen by Susie from I Heart Hiroshima) and the lack of numbers no longer matters. I’m excited…but everyone else is clearly not.

When the small crowd bum rushes the stage as I Heart Hiroshima begin to play, I briefly consider if they are the main attraction and whether anyone will stick around for Rocket Science. Despite gettin’ down to bizness (and IHH are in the bizness of getting the party started) the crowd reverts to its catatonic state that dampens the otherwise top efforts of both support bands.

IHH – the upbeat indie-rock equivalent of a cyclone – seem in fine form and will likely be introducing their fan base to Rocket Science on the rest of this national tour. The single Teef seems to pale against the melodies of their other tracks, but the energy is still there – from the band at least. Kudos also to IHH for the best merchandise of the night.

My concerns of “we came here for the support band” syndrome are unfounded. After a brief Theremin sound check that sounds like a lawnmower through a megaphone, Rocket Science storm the stage in suits and top hats and launch into Shadow Man. The crowd instantly snaps into motion, not only to cover their ears but to flail around with gusto. What Rocket Science have tonight that the others don’t is snazzy attire, a Theremin, the crowd by the throat and volume.

Yeah, they’re loud, but that’s exactly how they should be experienced. Forgot your earplugs? Toilet paper balls and more beer works for me. One Robot cranks, so does Run Like a Gun, and new single Psychic Man is impressive too. Their trademark sound of Rhodes and kit-driven garage rock punctuated by Theremin oddities hasn’t changed much since this Melbourne ‘supergroup’ burst on to the scene fully-evolved in the late –  “90s. However their songs have strong enough hooks to keep from sounding repetitive and their manic stage shows have landed them UK, American and European stints with the likes of Rocket From The Crypt, Supergrass and Kings of Leon. Rocket Science waste no time in delivering an encore, with Copy Cat and Burn In Hell from their debut Welcome Aboard The 3C10… closing the night in style.

It’s been too long between drinks with Rocket Science, due in part to frontman Roman Tucker’s crippling brain aneurysm shortly before Eternal Holiday’s release in 2004, which I am only reminded of on my way home. Their stage presence and wholly excellent material from all albums shows that Rocket Science are better than ever. If you weren’t there, you missed out.

No doubt they’ll be back to assault Brisbane following their fourth album release, Different Like You (through Fuse Music Group), due in July. Keep yer eye out!