This was one of those nights I wish I had thought to get earplugs. The PA was cranked fairly high from the get go for the almost humorously angry opener, complete with a frontman who tried to make his own mosh, and the more classic hardcore tones of Adelaide’s Crisis Alert. Both of bands went pretty hard and fast. But come time for Propagandhi the PA went up to 11 as they came out swigning. That proved a bit much for the old girl as the power totally died a few songs in. I was secretly hoping for an acoustic set after that, but fortunately the power was restored and the band continued to do what they do best: play loud and franticly.
The rather long and narrow floor of the Shark Bar was reasonably populated, although a lot of people probably ended up at the back playing pool without a view. Those who did get up the front reciprocated the band’s energy, mostly that of bassist Todd Kowalksi, with some fairly decent attempts at crowd surfing in a small mosh. The standard set list featured plenty of newer songs, but kept an aptly democratic mix. Thankfully they did stretch back to their treasured debut How To Clean Everything, despite founding member and frontman Chris Hannah’s admitted disdain for it.
Whether it was the PA or my ears going, by a few songs in I wasn’t really able to tell what Chris or Todd were singing about, but whatever it was they seem to have retained their conviction. It was great to (sort of) hear their prairie accents during rare bits of dialogue – about looking out for each other in the crowd, after one poor and rather irate girl had her glasses broken, and how Tony Abbott has some terribly backwards ideas based in Christianity. Strange though, considering in their early days they often had lengthy discussion between songs. Other founding member, drummer Jord Samolesky, gave shout-outs to local causes Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and RISE, an organisation run by and for refugees. So, I’m happy to say you couldn’t accuse them of losing their spark for advocacy and activism, perhaps they’re just not as youthful as they once were.
By the end of the set some of the faces in the crowd were looking tired, probably the usual combination of drinking and moshing, but perked up once they noticed Jord had snuck back on for the encore. I was happy as they returned with Anti-Manifesto before finishing with Hard Times by influential, and original hardcore-metallers Cro-Mags. Propagandhi have certainly embarked down that heavier path over the last decade or so. And while it may not be the same as their youthful and in-your-face, political output of the early ’90s, it all shines live and gives you plenty to stomp and yell along to.