THE DELTA RIGGS @ Jack Rabbit Slims gets 6/10

The Delta Riggs @ Jack Rabbit Slim’s

w/ Ray Finkle, Hot Plant House Party
Saturday, October 20, 2018


I’d like to start this review by outlining the long term and passionate relationship I’ve had with The Delta Riggs’ earlier released music. Their supporting tour for Active Galactic had me fangirling more than I feel comfortable to admit. It was raunchy, with their live performance having more sex appeal than the advertising section of Cosmopolitan.

Maybe I was doomed from the start. I started the gig at Jack Rabbit Slim’s on Saturday by driving four hours to get to this show because I had a case of serious FOMO. Although I’d seen them before, I didn’t want to miss the chance to catch a taste of their unreleased songs for the album scheduled to be released next February. As I write this though I wonder, was it worth the drive?

It was a dismal crowd lining the borders of the dance-floor at Jack Rabbit Slims at 9pm. With most of the room lying empty, my girl and I bounced through the doors of the bar revving for a big night of punk music and dancing in mosh pits. The playlist sifted through classic 70s rock and roll during the intermission following Hot Plant House Party, as the crowd stood tightly in their collective circles, segregating groups that shared the same taste in music.

Ray Finkle sort of bounded onto stage with all their instruments lined along the front. Led by the charismatic and charming Jamie Taylor, the five-piece started with a satirical track named Subiaco which draws on local geography whilst calling out society’s tendencies to be trapped by technology. Their formulaic approach to their music felt like The Presidents of The United States of America as it focused on things that were a bit silly and fun for the band to write and produce. Shamefully, despite the efforts of engagement and interaction with the crowd, the punters stood around the edge of the stage, too sober or fearful to step into the boxed area. The highlight of the set had to be their song Darren, which brought in backing vocals for a little touch of drama. It’s essentially a party rock anthem that celebrates the chinks in a social circle, the soldier who’s always the first to be carried out of the bar on a big night out. The crowd’s reaction was certainly not a reflection on the band. Not even a song about pizza could get the crowd grooving.

After Ray Finkle’s set, we watched the stage hands load almost a six-pack next to each instrument and I was getting excited. The Delta Riggs, in my mind, define what punk music should look like. From lead guitarist Alex Markwell walking on stage smoking a cigarette indoors, to lead singer Elliot Hammond swigging directly from a 2L Jamiesons bottle between songs. It’s one of my favourite things about this band is how authentic to their genre they look and act.

The lights dimmed and When a Man Loves a Woman started playing to bring the band on stage. Unfortunately, the band’s intro song fell flat on the audience with only some light rocking to be seen. The setlist flicked through songs from their first album to their biggest songs to date and then some unrecorded tracks too but Hammond’s vocals sounded exhausted and it wasn’t until The Baddest Mother Fucker In The Beehive that you really saw how much he was straining his voice.

Between song changes, there was little banter and after June Gloom was played I noticed my face very rarely shifted from a frown. I was annoyed. This gig was the last gig of their national tour. His voice was so strained and I was immediately jealous of all the insane shows that would have happened over Australia for the poor dude to sound as bad as he did. I was jealous that I had to be attending the last night when everyone was tired and wanted to go home.

Granted, I was grateful they still performed because their music is still so good. The way their songs are crafted is such a statement to their choice to produce their own music, like the little characteristics that take their songs from good to great. A little ‘oomph’ after the chorus for dramatic effect, like an embellishment or a personal signature that makes their music stand out. From Never Seen This Before to The Record’s Flawed, the band played tightly and their encore was a fucking delight, as they changed instruments to have lead guitarist Alex Markwell on keyboards and lead singer Hammond on drums. As for new music, Goodbye stood out as it took on a gentler approach, feeling a little softer as the band sung about losing a close friend. Between Fast Lane and Goodbye, it’ll be interesting to see how the new album fleshes out in February.

I doesn’t seem fair to blame a band for not living up to your expectations. They’re just people and they’re allowed to have a shitty day. But where was the sex and rock and roll boys?


Photos by Linda Dunjey

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