Howlin’ Steam Train + Papa Pilko & The Bin Rats

30 June 2012

The Vanguard

Sydney, Australia

Reviewed by Meghan Player

Having recently had the pleasure of interviewing two bands on the bill tonight for Push To Fire, I was understandably looking forward to catching Melbourne’s Howlin’ Steam Train and local lads, Papa Pilko and the Bin Rats tonight at one of my favourite venues.

Arriving at the Vanguard to what would later be revealed as a ‘sold-out’ performance, tonight was a perfect way to show not only the level of talent we have in our independent, unsigned music scene in Australia, but how the blues/swamp/shack/boogie sounds of years past is currently thriving.

Local ‘mini-orchestra’ Papa Pilko & the Bin Rats – my favourite band of late – take to the stage with enough attitude, presence and swagger to grab the audience’s attention.

The bands smooth as fuck blues/dirty blues style is astoundingly good tonight – never managing to waver, despite the somewhat sheepish audience. Moving through a set list that includes, ‘Bar Fight Blues‘, ‘Into The Night‘, and ‘I Demand Satisfaction‘, the band are a constant reminder that your hips are there for shaking, and your feet are there for dancing.

Melbourne headliners, Howlin’ Steam Train hit the stage next – launching straight into their unique swing/swamp/shack boogie style that has been garnering some well-earned attention over the last few months.

The frenzied mix of guitars, the thrashing/crashing of the drums and the pounding bass lines are exactly what I was expecting tonight – played out through ‘Stray Cat Ricochet‘, ‘Midnight Whiskey Escapades‘ and latest single, ‘Ramblin’ Man‘.

Astoundingly, tonight was a perfect snapshot of how far this young band has come in the last year – having had to learn to play their instruments, then adopting one of the more technical and complicated genres [blues]. Without a doubt, this a great testament to the band and their dedication to perfecting their craft.

Overall, tonight was a superb showcase of local blues talent – topped off by members of Papa Pilko & the Binrats joining Howlin’ Steam Train onstage for the final song.

Importantly, tonight wasn’t just about the music – but about the bond within this small but growing scene – and the inherent need to support independent and unsigned musicians.


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