2020 Barfly Top Ten: 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.
2. Feb 14 2020, The Johnny’s Valentine’s Day gig at the Marrickville Bowlo with Elvis Presley’s 2020 Blow Back Special, Molting Vultures and Jupiter 5
Just wow. So much love in the room. The Johnnys were in top form and as wonderful as ever. Adelaide’s garage surf punks Molting Vultures were on fire. Great keyboards.
Supergroup Jupiter 5 are fucking awesome, so seeing them again is always a blast. Ross and I did our Elvis 2020 Blowback Special show with Claire Aztec shaking her booty in an unforgettable strip to "What's Inside a Girl?” Coooorrrrrrrrr! Straight to the Wank Bank! Plus.... I think a couple even got married on stage that night?
3. Feb 20 2020, Alice Cooper/MC50/Airborne at Qudos Bank Arena
Once again the king of Vaudeville Rock was in Sensational form. While I was hoping for a few more songs from his ’71-’76 reign ("Killer"/ "School’s Out"/" Billion Dollar Babies"/"Welcome To My Nightmare"/"Goes to Hell"… FROTH!!) he played a fist full of favourites and the quintessential songs that make up his stage show. He did surprise us with “Raped and Freezin’”.
The MC50 were a fucking amazing “support”. They would have blown most other bands off the stage. Wayne Kramer still has it, Marcus Durrant’s rich voice was powerful as fuck, and then there’s blokes from Soundgarden, Fugazi and Faith No More in the band too! Ending with an incredible version of “Looking at You”. To be honest I missed Airbourne. I hear they were great as usual. I was pre-loading.
4. May 5 2020, Psychotic Turnbuckles at the Moshpit’s Monday Evening Gunk Episode 3
The Moshpit really became Sydney’s rock’n’Roll lifeline During COVID. Monday night Gunk gave us the music, the laughs and a sense of community. The Barman and Rossy’s News and Brews segment got funnier and funnier as the episodes went on. Jill’s quiz was hilarious. A Tipple with Wax was always fun. Zac from ZENN streaming does a great job and is a total legend too.
Piss-your-pants funny to see The Turnbuckles' ongoing rock’n’roll wrestling saga continue in the interview with Sir Phillip Wigglesworth, (aka Flip Wigg) and a wonderful set by the Gods of Green haired Garage.
5. March 8 2020, White Knuckle Fever, Thee Cha Cha Chas and Plastic Section at the Brunswick East, Melbourne
Dancing, hugging, groping, kissing, spitting beer and staggering. Things we used to take for granted. A great chance to see (and touch) our Melbourne mates before lockdowns and social distancing rules.
Plastic Section were awesome. That sexy Gretsch Sound. That Hip shaking beat! Thee Cha Cha Chas are my favourite band of 2020 (and 2019!) What a dynamic duo. Solid garage rock with catchy songs. They’re adorable. Both bands are on the Outtaspace label too!
6. Nov 5 2020, WKF/ Los Monaros, Venerinas and DJ Jay Katz, first gig back at the Marrickville Bowlo. A Great Southern Nights gig.
It was exciting to see Heather, Richard and the gang after lockdown. We were smacked in the middle of a surf guitar sandwich and it sure felt good! An appreciative audience of 80 mates and locals were seated on the dance floor. A magic night with a spectacular version of “Sorry” by Jay Katz and Los Monaros.
7. Nov 29 2020, Rubber Necker, Stone Cold Fox and The Men From Uncle at the Gasoline Pony, Marrickvillew, NSW
A super hot day, with a super hot line up of bands. THE MEN FROM UNCLE are faves of mine. Their 60’s secret-agent style and sound, Pat’s showmanship and passion make them an instant party band.
Rubber Necker just go from strength to strength. Dynamic Post punk, jangling guitar, angular hooks, a formidably tight thumping backline, echoes of Siouxie and the Banshees, bursts of disco..... This band is fucking awesome. The band to watch in 2021. What a party. I nearly lost my quiff to a ceiling fan. Some mad dancing from Pat and a drunken after party at Victoria Yiros. All I wanted was a kebab!
8. Oct 1 2020, Nunchucka Superfly and Stew Gang at the Moshpit
Corrrrr!! Nunchucka were incredible. Zac from ZENN did a brilliant job as usual and we were treated to lot of Ray's bass in the mix. The space and dynamic between the guys made for a super show. Great to see them with their original drummer Joel again. Stew Gang are a great live band. Funny, cheesy and hooky young blokes. Synchronised moves and guitar hero shredding with synth pop programming. Kind of like if Rick Astley had a threesome with Bad News and Eddie Van Halen.
9. Jan 5 2020, Steel lane Punk Lakeway show, Sydenham, NSW
This was the perfect hangover from a 12 hour drinking session at Punk Nats. And what better way to blast the cobwebs away than a DIY punk rock party Day-drink. Excessive Force, Grim, Suppressant, wicked sister, Oaf, Terrificus , The Dirty Sluts, Meatcake and White Knuckle Fever. Geez that drummer from Oaf is a bit of alright! (Hands off ladies! ...and blokes)
The Dirty Sluts did a great set. How fucking awesome are MEATCAKE!!? Their set started strong ’til someone’s amp blew up (I can’t remember who’s?) and Pete Kostic did a fabulous rollicking drum solo in the meantime. Ross and I were pretty drunk and over excited by the time we played. Fun day. Ending with the obligatory Boss Kebab. Luckily they have a toilet there. All I wanted was a kebab. Not a Grog Bog!
10. Feb 8 2020, The Stranglers, the Enmore Theatre
Wonderful to get a chance to see Dave Greenfield still ripping it up on keys with a look of pure joy on his face. Baz Warne and Jean-Jacques Burnell were working hard and totally killing it. A warm’n’fuzzy crowd sing-along of their classic repertoire. Supported by the Gooch Palms, who I hadn’t seen in years (since the unfortunate “Hopoate incident” gig at the Lab0ratorium in 2011) who did a great job.
11. Nov 28 2020, Witch Skull, Lucifungus, Sworn Sober at The Crowbar
Lucifungus are definitely the heaviest duo of 2020. Brett and Davo (Pod people, Log, The VeeBees) have been working hard and their set really reflected this. It was a treat to hear them with such a good PA and mix. Another blistering set by the Aussie Kings of UK style stoner metal, WITCHSKULL. Boy, they delivered! This time not in a heaving, beer soaked Phoenix Bar, but a COVID safe CrowBar, replete with candle lit cabaret seating. Never before have I seen seated head banging en masse. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Seated head banging. For when you wanna get heavy but you wanna rest your legs too.
12. The On and Ons at Monday Evening Gunk Episode 1
The On and Ons are such a great band and their set was fantastic. Well crafted power pop songs with catchy riffs and harmonies. “Menacing Smile” is a cracker of a mini album. Clyde Bramley’s interview was entertaining and interesting.
13. Beijing Bikini, Shark Arm and Stone Cold Fox at SUSS at the Factory Theatre Fuse Box
Great to see Shark Arm again after ages. The Iowa brothers are Solid as a duo since Keith Hamlyn’s departure. Some great songs. Beijing Bikini were on fire. The best mix I’ve ever heard of these guys. (And I’ve seen TENS of BB shows!) Bob Blunt was really into it. His passion, humour, energy and dance moves had us captivated. Drew’s guitar sounded fantastic and Darcy and Terry were totally in the pocket. New songs such as "Bush Turkey" made an impact. And I was yelling “GIVE ME SOME KIM CHI” for a week afterward.
Stone Cold Fox’s highlight was an unexpected drum solo by Wilton that included tapping all manner of surfaces on the stage. For ages.
14. Sally Mae’s Sound Hole Live Stream: WKF, Terrificus, Dr. Robot and Dweeb City
Sally Mae really stepped up (again) during this turbulent year opening Sally Mae’s Sound Hole. She is a huge supporter of music, a great mixer, booker and musician and pun master.
White Knuckle Fever were lucky to share a stream with Terrificus, Dr. Robot and Dweeb City. Unfortunately Ross and I got there after Dweeb City finished, I’ve heard great stuff and love their spooky fluoro style.
Dr Robot played a brilliant set, sweating in his masked metallic pharaoh/robot suit with a vocoder, pumping tracks about swimming in speedos and partying on the year 9 MILLION (million, million, million). Hooky as Fuck and fun to boot. Ross excitedly exclaimed, “If I got married I’d ask him to play at my wedding!”
Terrificus is a diabolical duo. Shambolic industrial punk rock/ electro pop at its finest. Keyboards, cassette tape loops, distortion, scuzzy guitar, slapstick antics.The most tenuous tech set up you can imagine. Taut, trip-hazard extension cords. A failing laptop, a half broken laser, smoking untested lights; an abused overhead projector and a falling down projection screen. Then add two loose punk rock buffoons to the mix. Tyler and Shaggy are also in Face Command who totally rule. I’d watch these guys do anything. They’re so loveable.
15. Monday Evening Gunk episode 4, White Knuckle Fever and Dave Faulkner
Following the Hoodoo Gurus' cracker releases of “Get out of Dodge” and “Hung out to Dry” singles. Dave was fantastic to interview. So charming, open and smart. Ross and I did a cover of "Dig it Up" with Dave and Clyde spontaneously helping me out on vocals and it was the kind of thing rock’n’roll dreams are made of.
16. A man called Stu live-streams from Nashville, Tennessee.
The man with the mellifluous voice. And what a vocal range. I caught maybe 4 of Stu’s streams throughout the year and he treated us to some Zombie Ghost Train classics, originals and Country and Honky Tonk covers. He is such a full sounding guitar player and technically he always hits the mark. I miss seeing Zombie Ghost Train. I’d listen to their CD if it still played but I thrashed it so much over the years the silver bits have turned see-through.
17. Monday Evening Gunk episode 9, The Johnnys and the Cool Charmers
Interviewing all three of the Johnnys was a total dream come true, and a fucking funny interview it was! As a big Johnnys fan I was stoked to be able to ask them about the sticky details of a dangerous life. Hoody’s recollection of the Cocaine laced with Laxatives incident could be the top anecdote of 2020. Slim was also hilarious and charming. Billy was on zoom from Victoria and having a fine old time too. The Cool Charmers played an awesome set and it was really good fun singing “Wine Spo Dee O Dee” with them.
18. feedtime and Examplehead, Moshpit.
I think my ears bled. feedtime are still great, Tom Sturm’s drumming style is hypnotic. Examplehead have also still got it. Lionel is a great guitarist and Terry always nails it. Fuck they were loud.
19. SUSS “Six Quick Chicks” variety cabaret show.
What a hilarious variety show of female cabaret and comedy acts. Vashti Hughes, Christa Hughes, Anita Douche, Jude Bowler and Liesel Badorek all ripped it up. Still available to view for a fiver on the SUSS site!
20. Special mentions:
The ARIAS’ Great Southern Nights gigs. An awesome shot in the arm for live music in NSW and I’m grateful to have been part of it.
Rock’n’roll Enablers: Norro, Ross Johnston, Finton Mahony, The Barman, Bob Blunt, Sally Mae, Vashti Hughes, Marty Jay, Claire Aztec, Ben Eadie, Keith Claringbold, Graham Steel, Kerri Casey, Outtaspace Presents, and our mates at the Moshpit, Marrickville Bowlo and SUSS. Cheers!
Happy New Year and LONG LIVE ROCK’N’ROLL!