cable ties all her plansCable Ties 
at Max Watt’s, Melbourne
at The Catfish, Fitzroy, VIC
Friday, 4 August 2024

I missed the supports for the Cable Ties  (pictured right) album launch tonight at Max Watt’s, not because of any indifference on my part – Maggie Pills, Porpoise Spit and Our Carlson are all acts worthy of checking out  – but because I was waylaid at The Catfish in Fitzroy caught up in Spawn’s sprawling psychedelic journey. 

I first saw Spawn at the Bendigo Hotel in Collingwood in late 2020. Coming a few weeks after the Victorian Government had released the shackles of the second lockdown of that year, the gig was liberating, a timely reminder of the critical importance of live music to the contemporary social and economic fabric. 

The fact it was also a benefit for Spawn bass player Jewel De Gelder, who, tragically, would pass away a couple of years later, added a layer of poignancy. 

Spawn is a band rife for observation, analysis and cerebral contemplation. Come for the stoner-psych riffs and pot pouri of cultural influences, stay for the trip. The concept of a personal journey is caught somewhere between the cynical discourse of the corporate management industry and the slightly disconcerting hand-produced flyers advertising self-help retreats for members of the information class lost in a middle-class existentialist void. 

But when you’re at a Spawn gig, you’re swept up in a spiritual quest. Close your eyes, feel the mood, roll with the moment. Sabbath-strength riffs, a sitar wielded like a stoner-rock axe, an Eastern musico-cultural inflection that renders 60s raga-rock a cheap middle-class white boy imitation in comparison. As for Sarita McHarg’svocals, wow, that’s like nothing you’ve ever heard before, in this world at least. 

Eventually the trip ends, and it’s back on the bike for the trip into the city to Max Watt’s. On present and past form, Cable Ties are always something to behold. Jenny McKechnie’s razor sharp post-punk riffs and crystal threatening vocal shards, the rolling thunder of Nick Brown’s Entwistle-via-Brian Hooper basslines, Shauna Boyle’s freakishly brilliant drumming. 

If rock’n’roll has surrendered its pretensions to rebellion, Cable Ties missed the memo. Fueled by McKechnie’s razor-sharp licks, “Crashing Through” does just what it says on the box, and we’re away, followed soon after by “Perfect Client”, also taken from Cable Ties’ new album, “All Her Plans”. A brief music malfunction is barely a flesh wound and it’s the polished gems and gunfire riffage of “Tell Them Where to Go”. 

Shauna Boyle adds 100 percent to any band she’s in, and on the post-Orwellian “I Want My Thoughts Back”, she assumes lead vocal duties. The call and response take-down of self-serving institutional politics of “Sandcastles” is always invigorating and when McKechnie delivers a feisty rant about the imperfections of the justice system prior to “Mum’s Caravan”, the career public servant in me wants more nuanced policy detail, but the agitprop punk rock fan says “Yeah, right on’”      

There’s a couple more tracks from “All Her Plans” – “Same for Me”, “Time for You” – both an exploration of the personal as political, if you’re inclined to that sort of philosophical analysis. And if you’re not, then just bask in the tight-as-a-fish’s fundament musical delivery. The set ends with the almost atypical “Deep Breath Out”, a chance to pause, reflect and seriously consider whether Cable Ties is the best band in Melbourne. 

I couldn’t pick the encore (sung by Nick Brown), but kept sensing it was a punked-up take on the Celibate Rifles’ “Pretty Pictures” – of in itself, something to ponder. It wasn’t, but geez it was good. Fucking fantastic, in fact.

Cable Ties
All Her Plans Tour
Aug 10 - Beechworth - Tanswells Hotel
Aug 11 - Canberra - The Shaking Hand
Aug 12 - Sydney - The Lansdowne
Aug 13 - Servo Food Truck Bar, Port Kembla
Aug 20 - Manchester, UK - The Castle Hotel
Aug 21 - Glasgow, UK - The Hug and Pint
Aug 22- Dundee, UK - Fat Sams Dundee*
Aug 23 - Edinburgh, UK - O2 Academy*
Aug 25 - London, UK - The Victoria Dalston
Aug 26 - Utrecht, NL - Loose Ends @ Beton-t
Aug 28 - Paris, FR - Supersonic
Aug 29 - Bordeaux, FR - Rock School Barbey*
Sep 1 - Hamburg, DE - Molotow
Sep - Berlin, DE - RESET - Live Club Berlin Kreuzberg
Sep 7 - Raleigh, NC - Hopscotch Music Festival
Sep 8 - Richmond, VA - Richmond Music Hall ^
Sep 9 - Baltimore, MD - Ottobar ^
Sep 10 - Ardmore, PA - Ardmore Music Hall ^
Sep 12 - South Burlington, VT - Higher Ground ^
Sep 13 - Portland, ME - SPACE Gallery ^
Sep 14 - Hamden, CT - Space Ballroom ^
Sep 15 - Woodstock, NY - Colony ^
Sep 16 - New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom ^
Sep 21 - Seattle WA - Tractor Tavern +
Sep 22 - Portland OR - Mississippi Studios +
Sep 26 - San Francisco CA - Cafe Du Nord +
Sep 28 - Sacramento CA - Harlow's +
Sep 30 - Los Angeles CA - Teragram Ballroom +
Oct 1 - San Diego CA - Soda Bar +
Oct 2 - Phoenix AZ - The Rebel Lounge +
*with Amyl and The Sniffers
^ with Superchunk
+ with Pile
all Australian shows with Our Carlson