The first concert I ever went to was an Avril Lavigne concert in St. John, New Brunswick. We had general admission tickets and I had just turned 10 years old. At the show, things were hot and sweaty and everyone around me was much older and taller than me. I was overwhelmed by the GA pit at the arena where the concert was held, people were pushing me and trying to get closer to the stage, and I ended up crying and watching the show from the very, very back of the GA crowd. This is why I have never gone to a show with a mosh pit.
Never is maybe an overstatement. I was at a Matt and Kim concert where we spent two or three songs being squished up against the stage, but it felt more like a big group hug than a “mosh.” But I knew that Amyl and the Sniffers were going to be different. The Australian pub-punk band is loud, snotty, and energetic. Great Scott, the venue that we went to in Boston, is a venue my concert-buddy knows well, and she had described some pretty awesome experiences at this venue before. I tried to go into this experience with an open mind, closed toed-shoes (which I had to buy at a Buffalo Exchange since I left my boots at home), and a few Miller Lites.
It was the hottest day in the summer in Boston, and as people started making their way into the bar it became a sweatier and sweatier space. Great Scott is a hole in the wall, and it absolutely rules. The bar is cash only and there’s seating for people who want to hang out, the stage is tucked away in the back corner. The venue’s capacity is a whopping 220 people, and it was packed. Needless to say, the room was HOT.
The opening act was Gymshorts, a group from Rhode Island fronted by Sarah Greenwall. This group is super fun, super energetic, and lead by Greenwall’s spectacular stage presence and energy on the guitar. I’m sure this has been said of many rock stars, but I truly think that she is the closest to Animal from the Muppets that a human being has ever been, and she isn’t even a drummer. Gymshorts has a catalog of hilarious songs, including “Ding Dong Ditch,” and the best friend anthem, “Date Kate Jones — You Can’t.” Which is a really fun song to mosh to with your best friend.
It was during Gymshorts’ set that we noticed some of the characters that were at the show, most notably two older gentlemen who were clearly best friends, have clearly been coming to shows together for years, and who were a perfect representation of what me and my friend plan to be like when we’re in our 40’s. They were moshing the hardest of anyone in the room, and really raising the energy of everyone else in the audience. When things seemed like they were starting, I was surprised by how not bothered I was by having other people not only in my personal space, but actively pushing me around and expecting me to push them back (especially since everyone in the venue was drenched in sweat). It didn’t take very long to get over my hesitation.
When Amyl and the Sniffers came out things really picked up. What for Gymshorts was a few people freaking out really multiplied. Their sound is classic, and they have a funny, unique attitude and their songs are catchy as hell. They just rock. Their set list was a perfect mix of tracks from their recent, self titled debut album, and songs from their earlier EPs. The second song of the night, “Control,” is a perfect track for the nervous young person– an opportunity to get pushed around and have beer spilled on you while screaming about being a control freak.
There were moments during the concert where it was so hot that when someone behind you spilled their beer on you, it was a welcome relief, like pouring water on your face during soccer practice. I was sweating so profusely that my tye dye was soaked through by the end of the show. My hair, which from root-to-end is easily longer than a foot, was wet by the end of the show. It was SO HOT. The band threw water bottles out into the crowd from time to time, each of us taking a drink and passing it around.
Towards the end of the show someone standing at the stage scooched over so that I could stand in the very front, and my friend made her way to the front too. Amy Taylor (a.k.a. Amyl) is a pretty interactive front woman, There were plenty of times she laughed at someone in the audience or held the microphone out to someone else to have a turn screaming. She’s also nuts, performing with a slight champion-boxer-schtick. And a lot of their songs are pretty funny, including “You Stole my Push Bike,” a favorite of mine which just seems to be about stealing your bike back from someone. The set list was almost too perfect to list the highlights, but just to quickly name a few songs that ruled, “70’s Street Munchies,” “Some Mutts,” and “Balaclava Lover Boogie,” were really great to hear live.
After the show I bought one of their records and talked with Amy about Australia, and she recommended a horror movie to me. I got her to write the title down on the record sleeve so I wouldn’t forget the title (Wake in Fright). I didn’t take a single picture during the show, but when we got back to where we were staying (SHOUT OUT TO MY ADVENTURE BUDDY MAX FOR ARRANGING FOR US TO CRASH ON HIS MOM’S FUTON) I took a picture of how dirty my brand new shoes got.
Amyl and the Sniffers rock. Go see them if they’re in your town. Buy their album.