The Hard-Ons, The Rev, Fortitude Valley 18/06/05
[originally published in Rave Magazine, Brisbane 28/06/05]
The Hard-Ons turn 21: they can now legally drink and run for public office in California. More than 2 decades of hair-farming and ug-booted pandemonium point to the most berserk gigs in recent memory as soon as the perennial Peter Pans, Ray and Blackie - now the only scruffy long-hair but more the consummate frontman than ever - and newer drumming phenomenon Peter Kostic bunkered down to plow through their harder, riffier, Keish-less material with knotted concentrated energy. As the party invitations promised, original singer Keish bursts forth on stage like a stripper out of a cake, and instantly you could see every set of eyes re-register their first Hard-Ons gig (mine: 1989, QUT Campus Club during their speed-metal phase, yeeeeow!). At first a little lost without a drumkit to dwarf him and unsure exactly what to do, Keish bathed in the collective goodwill of the packed Rev, did a star jump and bounced off the ceiling, landing with a smile that sported wall-to-wall teeth. From that moment it was floor-slung guitar heroics, flying stage dives and a blur of double-kicks as the four-piece speed through their goofy bubblegum love songs (which incidentally always sounded better live and which betray a deeper well of music references than the obvious Ramones and Phil Spector ones): "Where Did She Come From", "All Set To Go", and the cheerful Viz Comics offensiveness of an extended "Suck‘n’Swallow", all thick and fast to the last gooey drop. Much more than a nostalgia trip through the Eagles or Fleetwood Mac mausoleum, the Hard-Ons at 21 are living, fire-breathing rock’n’roll that are thankfully growing old disgracefully.