J.F.K @ Badlands gets 7/10

J.F.K @ Badlands Bar

w/ MYTHS, The Psychotic Reactions, Mal De Mer
Saturday, September 8, 2018


As usual, Badlands was dim lit inside as you slipped through the carpark and through the beer garden to a split-level room with exceptional service and the ideal layout for a punk rock gig. It was 8.30pm and there was only a cluster of guests standing on the dance floor watching the first band. In the crowd stood the members from J.F.K, heavily fixated on the first act for the night and just off the plane from their first national tour which hit Melbourne and Brisbane the week prior.

Mal De Mer played the first supporting set on the night. It’s a tough gig being the first taste of the evening but this is a band that isn’t easily rattled. They’re cynical, engaging and slick with body language that almost says, “fuck you, I know that I’m talented. Watch me be good at what I do.” Through their set they played Goon, Brendan, Ban Jovi and a personal favourite, Wet Socks which leads with the grooviest bassline then uses jolting lyricism to demand a response from the crowd.

The Psychotic Reactions were up next. The 60s inspired garage rock band were all shaggy hair and dungarees, song intros that called to mind the Napoleon Dynamite movie soundtrack and bridges with dramatic keyboards dropping into slow exits where the lead guitarist brings the crowd home. It was Phone that stole their set, with the synth heavy and evocative vocal delivery feeling very tasty indeed.

Bouncing between the beer garden to the gig room can be dangerous at Badlands as the sound proofing of the gig room caused a handful of punters to lose the beginning of a quirky set by the effervescent Myths. From Nostalgia to Paradigm, the band reliably pulled heartstrings with their psych-pop, tracks packed with sound from start to end. A mysterious saxophone player joined the band on stage to round out the end of their set.

After the tumultuous efforts of their supporting acts, it was with a cool and crisp nonchalance that the J.F.K men in their signature suits swaggered onto the stage. It was the kind of supporting line up that could have played against the band on their release night, with a host of local talent showcasing completely varied approaches to similar genres. In this instance however, JFK’s live persona organically translated across the stage to the audience with their energetic and infectious performance, maintaining their authority over the evening. Tracks like Forget About It and Feel It Again had lead singer James Knox weaving along the edge of the stage creating a narrative with his body language as he’d jump in the air then caress the mic afterwards.

Some of their shorter recorded songs were stretched out to encapsulate the performance, as all the layers in their music were fleshed out and air dried to truly experience the further depth to their recorded tracks. The band plays best when the focus is on the music, and even better when they play louder.

The content itself drifts between tackling political commentary in the suburban household to angsty love and expression. The EP track listing feels like a stepping stone in a transitional period between life stages, endearingly touching on topics in a lighthearted manner. It calls to mind the analogy of marijuana being the gateway drug. J.F.K could be the gateway drug into darker punk music as it still carries all the rough punishment but less of the long-term life destroying consequences that some meaner punk bands can portray. There was a taste of some new music expected to be released with their debut album which had the crowd questioning philosophies such as trusting your man and sleeping with animals. This set sure had us excited to see how this band will grow through the next stage of their career, and what new music might come out of that.


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