Words Mark Ireland.
Photos Stephen Boxshall.
Every year Melbourne rock city gets destroyed by Cherry Rock, the best street rock’n’roll festival. For twelve years it’s been promoting local and overseas rock and metal acts, giving them a chance to play to a massive festival crowd, this year was no exception.
Opening the festival was Wurst Nurse, they kicked off proceedings with their anthemic punk that electro shocked the crowd. It was unseasonably warm weather for Cherry Rock, good beer drinking weather, and A. Swayze & and the Ghosts from Tasmania were a great addition to the day, their unique post punk sound was what was needed to send the crowd left of centre.
I moved inside to catch Fluff before the bar got jammed. They play classic rock in the sense of Zeppelin and any other 70s band you could throw a bone at. Neil Wilkinson’s high shrill would put Robert Plant to shame, and local legend Danny Leo is in my opinion the best drummer in Australia hands down. His powerhouse style is something that could shatter a window a 100 metres away. Fluff have an album coming out in a couple of months, so todays set was a good chance to showcase the new material.
On the Furphy stage Gabriella Cohen was charming the crowd with her sweet crunching pop, an interesting inclusion to Cherry Rock.
Soul fever was potent when Fulton Street hit the Cherry Bar stage late in the afternoon, Shannon Wick’s earth shattering vocals shook the venue to its foundations. The band have been regulars to Cherry’s legendary soul night, packing out the place on numerous occasions.
The Southern River Band are the new boys on the block and they’ve already earned their stripes by blowing crowds away at Queenscliff Music Festival and Boogie Festival, so todays set broke the crowd into tiny pieces. They’ve already honed that classic ‘Oz Rock’ sound, so the crowd just drank the energy the band threw at them. Their album is in high anticipation, so I think a return visit is definitely on the cards for the near future.
Inside again The Mamas sweet soul pop stylings had the crowd pack the dancefloor and cause a sweaty mess in no time.
I had heard a few things about The Chats, but nothing prepared me for what I saw, tight as fuck, killer riffs and it was all over in 30 minutes, that is rock’n’roll personified. And as one of their song goes, not even time for a ‘Smoko’!
Cash Savage and the Last Drinks have been a festival favorite for a number of years now, so the crowd warmed up to them straight away. Their gothic country blues was what was needed for a cold autumn night. Cash has incredible stage presence that commands attention, like Nick Cave she stands on the lip of the stage and draws the crowd in with every song, The Last Drinks are an amazing backing band that consists of two guitarists, drummer, fiddle player and bass player, so when the band break into ‘The Hypnotiser’, the sound that was created was like a man mad hurricane, with its slow build to its tumultuous climax, it really put the audience through the ringer.
The Cribs have been around since 2001, so it’s safe to say they know how to turn a crowd on its head. They played a varied set from a number of different albums, their latest album 24-7 Rock Star Shit has one of the best titles from last year. As soon as they hit the stage they don’t fuck around and its straight down to business, slaying the crowd with anthemic indie rock gems.
Closing off the Cherry Bar stage was a DJ set from Kid Congo, he played a killer set of mod hits, surf rock and classics from Bowie and Suzi Quatro, the crowd flooded the dance floor immediately as he hit the decks.
What else can be said about The Cosmic Psychos, they are the stuff of legend! Their influence runs deep not only in Aussie bands but also you can hear their sound in many 90s American bands too.
When they ripped out their classic ‘Nice Day To Go The Pub’, the crowds sing a long could have been heard on the other side of the Yarra! The buzz saw bass blast of ‘Dead in a Ditch’ deafened me within seconds. They ended the night with the classic ‘Lost Cause’. The Psychos haven’t changed their sound in over 30 years, the saying ‘If it Aint Broke Don’t Fix It’ was probably coined after seeing the band at the Tote.
After twelve years Cherry Rock is still selling out and looks it won’t be slowing down anytime soon. James Young, co-owner of Cherry Bar and one of the head honchos behind the festival is one of the biggest supporters of live music in Melbourne, and Cherry Rock is the love child of his support of local rock and roll.
Melbourne loves Cherry Rock and Cherry Rock loves Melbourne.