There’s no need to explain what a slightly weird year 2020 was. Sadly and for my back pocket’s sake, Phase 4 Records had to close for most of Autumn which meant I wasn’t as often held captive by some stinky guy banging on about the greatness of some rockist act they read about in "The Wire" at the top of their voice scaring our innocent customers away while I desperately needed to go to the toilet.
Our record label LCMR managed to squeeze out only three 7” EPs for the year – one by a hopelessly obscure Toowoomba punk group, Brian, and two by Xiro, the Brisbane band of the early post-punk era who should’ve gone on to have a great international career but decided not to for the sake of art; or something.
It was a great pleasure putting them all together for those who were all too familiar and the ones who were brave enough to try some music that was completely unknown to them.
GENERAL LABOR Gonzo journalist and onetime rock star Somewhere in the USA
10.) Binge watching old bands I love on YouTube, live concerts, etc. Particularly Cheap Trick, Redd Kross, the Divinyls, Rose Tattoo, Beasts Of Bourbon, Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Smack, Tex & The Horseheads, Little Kings, Viletones, Chris Isaak, 39 Steps, Bounty Hunters, Jacobites etc. And The Fleshtones - greatest live band I ever saw have lots of great stuff to watch on YouTube, Kings of Rock ‘n’ Roll!
9.)Carry It Forward The most revolutionary, serve the people, activist organization I've ever seen in real life provides coats, hats, gloves, sleeping bags, tents, rides, hotel rooms, wheelchairs, etc to the real people in the community that the government does not care about. Millions of people in the USA USA are becoming homeless and evicted while the get rich politicians drink champagne with their warpig donors. Almost like they wanna kill the poor. BE LIKE CARRY IT FORWARD, wherever you are!
8.) Slade is the right answer to almost any question!
7.) Remembering how Real Friends are precious Especially in these dark clampdown death plague winters when so many groovy people like Dave Kusworth, Eddie Van Halen, Mike Mindless, Mike Doman, Clay Anthony have passed on.
CELIA CURTIS Vocalist for White Knuckle Fever and Stone Cold Fox Sydney, NSW, Australia
Celia Curtis’s Top 20 of 2020!
The gigging landscape undulated wildly in 2020 but it was by no means barren. The absence of the annual stagger to (and from) River Rocks Festival in Geelong definitely stung a bit, but there were some corker live gigs and streams in 2020. Here are some of my favourites I was lucky to attend/ play:
1. Jan 4 2020, PUNKNATS, The Old Canberra Inn Due to raging fires and road closures, Crapulous Geegaw, Tweekers and Grim couldn’t make it. But you just can’t stop the rock. Lucifungus, Oaf, the Dirty Sluts,Minor Surgery, rooted, Hymn, Herxhaim, DuShkanu, White Knuckle Fever and (my personal faves) Thee Cha Cha Chas all went hard.
It was 44 degrees Celsius in a tin shed. Literally the worst air quality in the world. A late southerly that brought out the p2 masks and a blanket of apocalyptic Orange smoke. But fuck it was a great day. Milly, Tilly and Outtaspace Presents did a top job organising once again and The Old Canberra Inn was as hospitable as ever.
To be honest, 2020 wasn’t too big of a train wreck for me. I generally work remotely, so there was no adjustment to the joys and pitfalls of working from home. Even though live concerts were few and far between, I still managed to catch a few great ones before the gates closed. (Poison Heart’s Ten-Year Anniversary gig and an aurally hallucinogenic set by Brazil’s Rakta come to mind.)
Alas, some long-anticipated plans got scrapped (some well-paying DJ gigs, a Heavy Medication Label Fest with Puffball and Hell Nation Army in Berlin, travelling somewhere to catch Pat Todd & the Rankoutsiders on their European tour), but new plans rose out of the ashes of the fallen ones to make the best out of a bad situation. But more on that later…
Here are some things I dug in 2020:
1.) Smalltown Tigers “Five Things” mini-album (Area Pirata Records) Loud guitars, catchy tunes and simplicity have always worked in punk rock’s favor, and these three Italian chicas (sorry, regazze) follow this recipe while mixing in their own sonic special sauce through the eight songs on this tasty debut platter. The Ramones and Runaways are obvious reference points (especially Valli’s gritty Joan Jett growl), but these Tigers manage to sound both ferocious and sweet at the same time. The no-frills execution and earworm-quality of the songs kept me playing this mini-LP on endless repeat. Listen up here.
Greg Sawers & Penny Ikinger - photo by Loene Carmen
PENNY IKINGER Siolo artist and ex-Wet Taxis and Sacred Cowboys member Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
2020 started with a bang! I was treated to an ear-splitting performance from X at their Bushfire Relief Benefit show at The Spotted Mallard. in Brunswick, Melbourne. It was like travelling through a time warp littered with gritty rock n roll riffs and howls. The ones that X do best. They’ve still got it!
I was taken on another spin by a stellar line up of Guitar Wolf (Japan), 5,6,7,8’s (Japan) and Rocket Science at The Tote and also saw Japanese band The Jetboys at the same venue. Guitar Wolf and The Jetboys, arguably two of the best punk influenced rock bands of this day and age, are brutal. They play loud & fast with utmost conviction. Whatever it was they were singing about I was sure it was sacrilegious. It felt that way and that’s what counts.
The Schizophonics (USA) also performed in Melbourne (The Tote again!). This relatively youthful three piece exploded all over the stage and reassured that rock 'n' roll is not dead. Not that I ever thought it was, but that’s what ’they” keep telling me…
“Monday Evening Gunk” My favourite thing to do on a Monday night. Props to Jill, Wax, Pat and Sonja at MoshPit, News and Brews co-pilot Rossy, tech-head Zac, photographer/chronicler of choice Shona Ross, and the many guests and hosts involved. My original Top Ten was going to be a chronological list of Gunk episodes because it would be like picking a favourite child.
PETER ‘ROSSY” ROSS Celebrity Roadie, Jupiter 5 bassist Sydney, Australia
This is a list of things that have caught my eye in 2020 - in no particular order.
WHITE KNUCKLE FEVER Everybody’s favourite two piece have been kicking goals all through the year culminating with a new double single release that is killer. Ross and Celia are not only hard working but one of the funniest bands in Sydney.
OUTTASPACE RECORDS Milly and Adam have been working their rings out throughout the year, releasing high quality record after record. It’s been great watching the rise of their Central Coast colossus. Now they’ve even got their own venue in Woy Woy, The Link and Pin! Honourable mention also goes to Wreckless Enterprises.
LIVE MUSIC OFFICE Sydney’s dormant live music scene won’t return overnight to prominence, and it doesn’t happen by accident. Blokes like John Wardle, and his team, have been pushing for legislative support and reforms to remove the barriers to get live bands into back into venues. They’re kicking some goals and it would be remiss to not acknowledge their massive efforts.
MONDAY EVENING GUNK Live from the little venue that tried, Sydney’s version of CBGBs The Moshpit, MEG was one of the bright spots in a difficult year. Driven by The I-94 Bar’s Barman and Jill “Force of Nature” Dures, it was one part history lesson, Rockwiz knock-off, Molly Meldrum’s Humdrum and a live gig packed into a one hour live stream for 10 weeks… a garage rock version of Countdown if you like. A technical conundrum handled with style by Zac Ruokari from Zenn Streaming, the show was fun to be involved with and we can only hope it gets another airing in 2021.
Hiss & Crackle Records, Wallsend Old-school record shop with an owner who knows what you wanna hear before you’ve heard it; limited-edition local releases, live in stores and shitloads of support for non-mainstream artists.
Celia Curtis’s (White Knuckle Fever, Stone Cold Fox)highly entertaining live stream and Facebook performances They kept us Covid-sane.
Tequila-based beer. For when you’re torn between a frothy and and a marg, and Umina BWS shuts at 8pm on a Sunday.
Thee Cha Cha Chas and Fuzztoon Studios They released a spookily prophetic 7” (‘It’s Coming After You’), always smiling despite hardcore Melbourne lockdown. And Lluis’s prolific art kicked 2020’s arse.