ups and downs - The I-94 Bar
Brian Mann and Mick Medew trading licks in Thirroul. Shona Ross photo.
Gonna break that rule about not reviewing I-94 Bar gigs, as the second of this two-night engagement was badged thus. If you can’t write about things you like, what’s the point? It’s the ethos of why we do this e-zine thing.
So let’s be up front and say that Mick Medew is a good mate and his band, The Mesmerisers, are lovely people. In customary evangelical spirit, I’m unashamedly going to tell you that if you love rock and roll then you have to see them - in their native Brisbane or on one of their few forays outside of Queensland.
The first leg of this two-night weekend stand was a support to the mighty Sunnyboys, opening a bill shared with the mercurial Ups & Downs. The venue was the magic Anita’s Theatre in Thirroul, an hour-and-a-bit south of Sydney. The second was a Sydney show at the increasingly familiar stamping ground of Marrickville Bowling Club. The Mesmerisers are making the road trip a family affair with partners and two offspring in tow.
Australia’s national capital isn’t exactly known for its crop of present day garage bands, so Space Party is a pleasant surprise.
They might even be Canberra’s only garage band, except their PR sheet helpfully says that they recruited their singer from another outfit called Okinawa Girls, so that means there are at least two.
(Before any public servants send thoughtfully composed emails of complaint, it’s been many years since I lived in Canberra so I’m possibly talking through my arse. The place does have at least two regular live venues and a cool community radio station in 2XX, so there are signs of rock and roll life amongst the roundabouts and grim Stalinist architecture.)
Sure sounds a lot like ‘em. Has it really been 31 years since their last new release? That question’s rhetorical, by the way.
Ups and Downs were a Brisbane garage-pop band that was swept up in the signing madness of the 1980s, captured by a major label and transplanted to Sydney where they enjoyed fleeting success. All these years later, they’re more or less intact, but it's an accidental and organic reunion.