Reviewed by Bec Hennessy
I was pretty excited when seminal punks MDC announced they were finally visiting Australia for the first time. A band that I started listening to solely for the name and it’s appeal to my youthful anarchism, then their lyrics and that raw honest style of punk playing sealed the deal. It’s been a long time since I’d even spun a track of theirs, so there was some nervousness hanging around me tonight – did they still have it? And if so, did I? Or have I grown out of all that piss and vinegar?
Lead raconteur Dave Dictor was in full force from the start. Opening with an endearingly heartfelt offer of free hugs after the show. He then launched into their set, firing directly to the small enthusiastic mosh front and centre. They were tight, and focused. It was immediately apparent they sound great live, better than I remember their albums ever sounding. Exuding such an energy and joy, I visibly relaxed.
There’s a dedicated, punk crowd in attendance, forming a similarly dedicated and punk pit that wobbles in and out of a circle pit for the duration (despite the amusing “No Fight dancing, Circle Pits or Stage Diving” sign that I’m sure is a new addition for tonight but I could be wrong).
Dave is happy punk pied piper, the rapid fire delivery not missing a beat or any of its charming playfulness or vehemence. He’s animated and jovial, just honestly happy to be performing. I get the impression there could be only 15 people in the room tonight and he would be just as happy and they would smash it out all the same. Dave has a ball – both miming actions to the lyrics, wildy gesturing and kneeling down into the front row conspiratorially. Bassist Mike Smith smirks along with him, egging him on. Ron Poser plays guitar like he’s throttling a cop, with steely determination.
I spy what looks like a set list taped up and it’s huge. No surprise there. They blaze through an hour or so set of over 20 songs. The only pauses are for some good-natured political ramblings on vegetarianism, racism, marijuana and the like. Man, I miss this style of politically aware punk. It’s kind of comforting for me to be in a room where you might get hit in the head by a shoe, but also you are probably gonna be amongst like-minded souls – who will retrieve said shoe with a smile and a drunken one-armed hug around your neck. It gives you some faith in humanity.
Such a huge set list means I could go on forever, but highlights for me included the always fun country-tinged jam ‘Chicken Squawk‘ during which many joined Dave in a chicken dance. The always amusing and damn catchy ‘Nazi’s Shouldn’t Drive’ prefaced by short explanation of the songs origin – the demise of Ian Stuart from neo-Nazi band Skrewdriver and Dave stating point-blank “I’m glad he’s dead”.
The song that was my introduction to the band – ‘Dead Cops‘ has new blood drummer Jesse Cobb killing it with maniacal abandon. And of course, my personal favourite ‘John Wayne was a Nazi‘ (up there with Reagan Youth’s ‘Jesus Was A Communist’ as my one of my favourite punk songs of all time).
At the close, yes there were hugs as promised. Who knows how long the guys stuck around to chat and dole these out, there was still quite a gathering as I left. They still had it. And since I enjoyed it, I guess I do too.