Tropical Fuck Storm, Cable Ties: Jacaranda Phase One, Liverpool


Tropical Fuck Storm

Good weather doesn’t deter Tropical Fuck Storm from delivering the gig of the year and Getintothis’ Simon Kirk was there to be blown away.

With the domestic football season culminating last Sunday, the fine weather has finally decided to make its presence felt, as the sun beams off brick walls, beautifully catching Seel Street.

It’s an interesting juxtaposition given Tropical Fuck Storm are in town but it’s kind of fitting, as this band deal big where odd and the unusual are concerned.

In 2016, Gareth Liddiard pushed both The Drones and his acoustic guitar aside in favour of the haphazard gale-force outfit that is TFS.

Whether the band’s name, the title of their debut album, A Laughing Death In Meatspace, or the album artwork took the gold medal in 2018 was merely a moot point, however one thing’s for sure – ‘Meatspace is a defining piece of work. This is rock music from another cosmos.

People talk about Nick Cave as the greatest Australian song-writer to emerge from Australia, but quite frankly, it’s nonsense. The man we will see tonight occupies that particular thrown, for he is the sharply articulated projector of locality.

While Cave‘s influences are absorbed in continents not of his own, Liddiard is different gravy. His subjects of Australian history and mesmerising storytelling powers are unparalleled with any of his antipodean contemporaries. That’s the quality in front of us later tonight.

First up, however, are fellow Aussies, Cable Ties and the Melbourne three-piece have drawn in quite the crowd.

After a lacklustre start, they get into their groove with a brand of spit and spray garage rock. It has shades of Cosmic Psychos injected with something out of the Riot grrrl movement. Not two worlds that would ordinarily prove worthy bedfellows, but here, it does.

No fucking about, after a quick sound check Tropical Fuck Storm arrive.

This band is more aligned with the Liddiard psyche. His slight larrikin and loose cannon leanings fit the remit of TFS. Where The Drones tempered humour with severity, TFS seemingly rely and feed off the sharpest edges of hedonism.

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Liddiard‘s artistic flair is expertly underpinned by fellow Drones member and partner, Fiona Kitschin, guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist, Erica Dunn (High Tension) and drummer Lauren Hammel (Harmony). After opening with Chameleon Paint which sounds like a reconstructed disorder of proto-rock, the band follows with the aggressive trip-hop jumble of Antimatter Animals. Hammel‘s rhythms cut across this discordant mess like a hot blade slicing skin.

Dunn and Kitschin‘s backing vocals provide the strongest of foils. Dunn especially is one of the most talented musicians to derive from Australia in years, bouncing from keyboard to guitar with a raw energy and virtuoso most bands could only dream of calling upon.

The caustic clamour during Soft Power sees Liddiard osculating between guttural roars and cattle dog yelps. It’s ferocious stuff. Lose the Baby follows in what could be one of the greatest Australian B-sides ever made. It’s TFS‘ most straightforward song, however one of their strongest that drips with a rabid fury and the stench of Victoria Bitter.

You Let My Tyres Down follows and its timely arrival has the crowd losing their collective mind, as Liddiard, Kitschin and Dunn bounce around the stage like animals locked in a cage.

Liddiard’s dry witted historical, regional and metropolitan tales hit their target as hard as ever. After all, this is a bloke whose song-craft is so unique that he could make going into a country pub in outback New South Wales sound like he’s just climbed Mount Everest. An artist never languishing, always on the ascent and with Rubber Bullies there’s no better demonstration of that, as Liddiard‘s vocals are laced with venom as he spits:

“And there’s a building site on Sesame Street/All party donor-backed/It’s all footlong sub divisions/
Built so cheap they won’t outlast/Your disapproval or their doormats/Built by the sycophants/Of plutocrats and idiots big on firm handshakes and eye contact/The water pressure’s pitiless and all the restaurants shut by eight/The walls are made of plywood/When they should be armour plate.”

TFS continue to empty the chamber with ray-gun riffs that hit and spray across the crowd. If jaws haven’t yet hit the floor then they soon do when the band launches into closing track and Drones number, Baby from the landmark album, Wait Long By the River and the Bodies of Your Enemies Will Float By.

It’s a surprise but that’s what this band does and after assaulting the audience with a maelstrom of dissonance for the last hour, TFS say their thank yous and they’re off.

The fact that Tropical Fuck Storm actually played in Liverpool should be a celebration in itself. The diatribes of a mutant messiah from the land down under have graced Liverpool and already the city is better for it.

Tropical Fuck Storm‘s performance is something that occupies a space between a discordant opera and hell-raising freak rock. Gigs for this year appear done, folks. Well, the best one is anyway, because we’ve just witnessed it.

Images by Getintothis’ Chris Flack.