Review: Clowns – Fowlers, Adelaide

Punk has three forms which are fashion, statement or passion. Punk that is just raw and passionate is the best as it isn’t contrived and doesn’t feel like its a giant pose. Good punk with attitude comes from a soul that isn’t aggressive necessarily but wants everyone in that room to just go mental. Attitude, spontaneity and a menace that means that no one is the room is safe. One eye on the band, one of the kid with the windmill arms and the ability to drink while bouncing. Pretty simple.

I got excited when I saw the Wolfpack a few months back with their passion and drive. The Clowns playing live in Adelaide was just a different matter completely as they took it up a notch. Loud, staggering, loitering with instruments, all played at a frenzy. The Clowns were sandwiched on the bill between the American Sharks and The Sword. The American Sharks had more technical problems than a North Korean missile launch but the Clowns did their job and whipped the appreciative crowd into a frenzy.

They wander on stage and sound check in seconds. ‘Yep Sweet Man’, that’s the Australian version of a sound check. The Melbourne band then smash into the first few songs and the place is going crazy with as many there for the Clowns as for The Sword. The crowd may have been wearing different merch but they all have self preservation in common. We pause as the bass player is having similar issues with the amp stack that brought the American Sharks to a halt. Vocalist Stevie takes a moment to work his magic with the crowd, with one foot on the monitor he leans over the barrier, “You, you..I know you. You are that chick from the Adelaide Fringe. I’ve seen you perform. You lift weights with your *undercarriage”. *Stevie didn’t actually say ‘undercarriage’ but I only use the four letter ‘C’ word when I’m talking about politicians. True enough, this was that Fringe performer, she salutes the crowd and there’s a polite ripple of golf clapping.

Back to it and the band fires up again and Stevie is over the barrier and grabbing people, slamming them into each other and starting the pit while trailing a microphone and a slew of cable behind him. This is the good old days as a kid watching the Exploited wreck venues or watching the Crass play, ‘Big A, Little a’, while the real anarchy was in the first five rows. A natural performer, as Stevie gets back over the barrier, helped by the woman with the crane for an organ and the magic continues. He’s back in the crowd and the poor bastard having a quiet beer finds himself spinning towards the pack. But, the audience are pushing forward and not holding back. Stevie is too shagged to climb the barrier and slides back onto the stage and sits down for a while and lets the rest of the band get on with it. Then its up on the amps, then a wander off stage.

You can’t fake this shit. You either have the attitude and belief that you are bullet-proof invincible or you don’t. There is no middle ground. Like watching two members of the Clash swing at each other, fighting over what the encore was going to be, its unpredictable and just reminds you why you listen to this stuff. ¬†Music is to be listened to but punk has to be performed. This was an awesome performance by the Clowns and they deserve all of the accolades and opportunities that come their way. There will be a chance to see who is the most dangerous band in Australia when the Clowns share the bill with Mammoth Mammoth at Cherry Rock, in Melbourne on May the 1st. Get there and see this band.

Review and photography: Craig Grant

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