Mama Roux’s is a world of its own. The approach is a very industrial view of Birmingham but, step inside, and you are transported to Cuba; colourful wooden facades covering the walls, festoon lighting and palms covering most surfaces. However, on this cold March evening I was there to be plunged into the depths of California and Melbourne’s hardcore scene. Of the mammoth 5 band line-up, I arrived for third support Capsize. The problem with having such an enormous line-up is that not many people arrive for such an early start, and as such singer Daniel Wand tried in vain to gather the crowd. New single “Cold Shoulder” was played half-way through but I was left underwhelmed with it all, perhaps this being related to the struggles they had during sound check.
The main support came in the form of hardcore punk outfit Trash Talk. Where Capsize struggled to stir the audience, vocalist Lee Spielman wouldn’t take no for an answer, immediately bringing the crowd forward and initiating a big circle pit. The carnage covered the entire floor area, spectators (including myself) getting squeezed into corners and against walls to avoid colliding with stray limbs or entire bodies. Not one inch of the venue was safe, Spielman spent most of the set in the pit, but he also climbed the stairs to the balcony. He demanded everyone put their phones away and, before the last song, was chanting “bang your head, break your neck!”.
Watch the Deez Nuts video for their song “Binge / Purgatory” right here.
The only way to top the drama was for the bassist and guitarist to climb the speaker stacks. However, once the final track wrapped up and in-house music began, bass player Spencer Pollard refused to climb down. A few minutes passed, security had gathered around the speakers, the lights had come up and the music had stopped. Finally, after an unnecessarily heated argument, Pollard returned backstage. This seemed like an overtly “punk rock” attitude, for attitude’s sake.
After what felt like a long evening, it was finally time for Deez Nuts to take over. JJ Peters had enough swagger to fill the venue, patrolling the stage and yet still seeming tame in comparison to Trash Talk but it was a welcome change in tempo. For third song, “Discord”, Peters invited a fan onto stage to guest star on vocals, and was clearly impressed, glancing between his bandmates in surprise. With each track lasting only a couple of minutes, the set list was packed with 19 songs. Just two tracks in and drummer Alex Salinger removed his black hoody to reveal a patchwork of tattoos, which came alive in the dim lighting.
In front of the circle pit, fans followed Peters’ microphone like moths to a flame, sometimes being given the chance to join in on songs like “Hedonistic Wasteland” and “Commas & Zeros”, whilst behind them the circle pit raged. After an initial flurry of new material, most of the gig featured tracks from Word Is Bond and Bout It, despite not having toured in Europe since their latest album Binge & Purgatory was released.