I went to see post industrial music mongers Kollaps and supporting crust punk music outfit Terror Nullius at Melbourne’s Lyrebird Lounge. It was a free gig on a Friday night in a small but cosy suburban pub. Personally I couldn't think of a better way to seek out the (possibly) best industrial music (and filthy, thick crust punk)?
Kollaps + Terror Nullius at the Lyrebird Lounge | June 19, 2015
I’ll tell you shortly about the gig and how it went. But the dominant thought on my way there was how lucky I am to live in a city such as Melbourne with such a fantastic live music and rock scene. It reminded me how the most memorable gigs are often the ones preceded by minimum expectations.
To clarify: memorable gigs aren’t necessarily the best gigs, and minimum expectations do not necessarily mean low expectations.
Rather, memorable gigs are those which, for whatever reason, become happy conversational references. It might be the unexpectedness of the occasion, or the lack of preconception as to what’s about to occur on stage. It’s a principle that holds true for almost any type of fun social encounter, be it seeing a movie you’d never heard of or bumping into someone you hadn’t heard from for ages and then having an unplanned coffee or stronger beverage.
As for gigs, sometimes it’s the oddities before or after the event that transform the occasion from something that simply happened into an actual future talking point.
For example, when the four of us headed to the Lyrebird Lounge from my friend’s house — his place is located within close walking distance to his local rock pub, which is of course the best kind of distance to any rock pub — we spotted this finely dressed gentleman standing by the front of the gate in this block of apartments.
Now keep in mind that it’s Friday night, it’s very dark, there’s no one about, and it was the middle of winter. This chap smiled at us and with the utmost friendliness mentioned that he was having some small trouble with his mother-in-law.
“She has trouble sleeping with the light on,” he said.
Suddenly, a member of our group sprang into action. Why, of course he could help. “Do you have a light switch that needs switching off?” he exclaimed, whereupon he was promptly invited into his place to turn off said light switch. The gentleman was most thankful, even apologetic, but we made a point of saying that it was no problem at all and we wished each other a good night.
If it’s not obvious what was going on, religious doctrine constrained this man from doing — and directly asking for — that thing which he so politely implied he needed help with. And while I’m an atheist who sincerely feels you are entitled to believe in anything you want, from Pastafarianism to multi-millennia old scripture — as long as you’re not an asshole about it — I admired this gentlemen for his intense dedication. In the middle of winter. In the dark. On a dark Friday night. Plus, he seemed like a lovely guy.
As we headed off into the dark backstreets of the actually-quite-lovely Ripponlea, we knew we were close to the Lyrebird Lounge.
Terror Nullius. Crust punk!
We felt it. And then we definitely heard it before we came close to seeing it. A piercing, teeth-jarring noise from across the street. Clearly we’d arrived in time to hear crust punk outfit Terror Nullius. We went to across the road to withdraw beer money before bravely entering the Lyrebird Lounge. There we were met by shrieking riffs, screeching vocals, a drumkit suffering some severe abuse, and a polite and respectful audience sitting close to the stage around assorted round bar tables.
I mean no disrespect to anyone when I say Terror Nullius were discordant, harsh, and brilliantly, ear-bleedingly awful in so many excellent ways. If collapsing institutions and the violent fall of authority has a sound track, it would be a crust punk band like Terror Nullius.
Talking of things collapsing, the second band on the bill was industrial band Kollaps — and again, a band name doesn’t get any more industrial than Kollaps with a k.
Apart from the obvious Einstürzende Neubauten references, seeing this performance reminded me that there has historically been so much more to that complex and inherently contradictory phenomenon that is industrial music than just synthesizers and the large amount of gothic industrial music that is occasionally a rich source of debate among goths and rivet heads.
The Kollaps Facebook page describes the band as a “Nihilistic Melbourne based post-punk/noise trio.” There was lots of guitar feedback and post punk vocal wailing. It seemed like there was some Serious Business on the small stage. It wasn’t my cup of tea but it certainly wasn’t boring.
I imagine that this is the closest I’ll ever get to travelling back three decades to an English squat gig, somewhere within the abandoned wastes of a declining industrial town, hanging out with musical deviants to see dangerous artistic sickos become wreckers of civilisation. It was actually in a small suburban bar that happens to serve excellent pizza, with a small but appreciative audience sitting mere feet from the small stage around bar tables. There was no broken glass or civil disorder, although both bands announced they were in fact playing a squat gig next week, so that did enhance the authenticity.
My favourite part of the Kollaps industrial music set was the use of a steel spring as an instrument. I thought it was an excellent use of industrial materials, in the finest tradition of DIY, improvised instrument in industrial music (although I was told by a separate source that steel springs were previously used by Einstürzende Neubauten). If I do see Kollaps again, I hope to hear more live steel springs. Because steel springs are farkin' industrial!
Melbourne's Kollaps. Wreckers of civilisation.
Pity I didn't get a pic of the steel spring as an instrument.
So that was our night. It was a free gig with two bands making noisy, abrasive, unconventional and nihilistic music. I’ll be filing away pleasant recollections of this event for the future. I’m not a mystic so I can’t tell you under what context that’s going to occur. “Remember the time we went to the Lyrebird and that guy asked us if could turn the light off in his house for him” might be one. “This reminds me of the time that industrial band had a steel spring as an instrument” might be another.
Too many people — when they see a metal or punk or industrial or rock band they don’t like — get caught up in energetically making it known just how much they feel these bands are rubbish.
Yet one merely need turn to almost any radio station or on-hold music to be reminded that the real rubbish is forever stacked up as far as the eye can see.
It’s something, personally, that I feel very strongly about. “Internecine conflict is always the most savage,” a friend often says. Terror Nullius + Kollapse live at the Lyrebird Lounge will not rank as one of the best gigs I’ve ever seen, but it certainly was memorable, and for all the right reasons, if not for all the obvious ones.
Is there any point to enjoying a cultural event if it leaves no lasting memory? I would take two bands like this any day over the sea of commercial rubbish known as mainstream music.
When it was finally time to leave the venue we concluded that there just aren’t enough cool places like the Lyrebird Lounge.
If you live in Melbourne, it’s not a real suburb until it’s got its own rock bar.
Especially when it serves such excellent pizza.