Vegas Kings, Narwhals, Geese, Negative Creep @ The Troubadour (13/11/2010)

The thirteenth of November 2010 will be forever etched history books of Brisbane music. Over amidst the foliage of the Riverstage, Powderfinger are playing in their hometown for the very last time. But our attention is diverted to a less commercially successful, but equally as accomplished group of musicians. In the fetid urban sprawl of Fortitude Valley, inside The Troubadour, Vegas Kings take the stage for the last time. After tonight – they’ll never work in this town again.

Vegas Kings aren’t the only band calling it quits tonight. For openers Geese it is also their last show. The quartet are defined by the word minimalist. Short, concise portions of gritty noise pop with contrasting sections of loud and soft. There’s little stage presence, members cautiously eyeing off their fretboards instead. Bassist and guitarist give a short impromptu speech before they dissipate from the stage, never to exist again.

There are a few surf-rock bands popping up in Brisbane due to resurgence in the genre’s popularity, but Narwhals represent the upper end of the scale. Their 60’s themed pop is built upon a strong groove and a penchant for dancibility. Rather than being alienating, the lack of crowd interaction or vocals is suspenseful, you never know what’s going to happen next. Considering it’s their first show in about eight months, it’s a well received return to form.

The four long haired males on the Troubadour stage look uncannily familiar. Why? Because Negative Creep is actually Violent Soho! Somehow they’ve managed to find the time in their touring schedule to play a selection of Nirvana covers. It only reaffirms their obsession with 90s grunge, whilst the audience seems to miss the pop sensibilities inherent in their songwriting. Regardless, their set is still brutal as fuck. They declare that this is the last time they will play the Troubadour, quashing the rumour that they will play the final ever show. They ask us to charge our glasses to the venue and to Vegas Kings and beer bottles are hoisted into the air.

“Welcome to the last Powderfinger show ever” smirks Vegas Kings frontman Benjamin Dougherty as they rip into Hole, one of their earlier tracks. There’s no grand entrance and a majority of the audience are occupied elsewhere, but the crowd swells to capacity by the time they reach second song Good Soldier. When Pete Collins proclaims “I will shot everything you cunts put in front of me” there’s an ominous feeling that the night is going to get out of control.

Strangely enough, You’ll Never Work In This Town Again, is played third, perhaps too surreal to be saved til last. There’s no sense of the impending end for the band. This could be any regular night. Their melange of blues, garage and punk is as dirty as ever. So raw and abrasive that it almost as if freshly scraped from the gutter. It’s surprisingly bottom heavy for a band which lacks a bass player and is both velocious and maniacal in execution.

The witty remarks and sarcasm flow as freely as the tequila shots that the audience members bring to the stage. I Got This Thing and 10 Car Pile Up highlight the bludgeoning force of Angus Chapman who seems unfazed by the high propulsion of their music. Dougherty is characterised by his non-caring swagger, after ten years, he still doesn’t give a fuck, opting for every opportunity to piss-take. Collins is more relenting in his playing as he strums furiously though Fade Away, a song which certainly isn’t applicable to them at the moment.

It’s a rare occurrence when a reviewer becomes a participant, but I feel there is no more cohesive way to explain the last final minutes of Vegas Kings’ existence. For their absolute final song ever, Vegas Kings*invite the audience to commandeer the stage for Flying Jesus Judo Kicks. What happened next could only be described as utter anarchy.

Punters storm the stage, headbanging, fistpumping, dancing and thrashing. I too lose inhibitions and join in the debauchery. The band members have not a clue what is happening, they’re too drunk and in the spur of the moment to care. So much so, that perhaps they don’t want to face the realisation that it’s about to be all over. The song is jammed out beyond usual length, but no one cares.

For the piece de resistance the drum kit is obliterated and guitars are lost in a tangle of arms and legs as Dougherty and Collins rampage through decimating everything they can lay hands on. I grab Chapman’s drumsticks and begin pounding floor toms and cymbals. Everyone in the near vicinity joins in. The reality that the dream is finally over hits home. Even a few tears flow. They say it’s better to burn out than fade away, well this was a fucking inferno. Rest in peace, Vegas Kings. You will be sorely missed.