Melbourne’s iconic Cherry Rock festival was held again this year, for the 11th year. Held at Cherry Bar in AC/DC lane, it’s a seething mess of bodies, booze and bloody good times. Held in May each year, the weather is always unpredictable and this year offered more of the same. The rain mostly held off, but the high concrete horizons don’t let in much sun so the cold and damp sets in pretty easily. Being an inside/outside festival has its pluses though – if the cold is biting you can head inside for the next set in not too long. And by the time the indoor set is finished, you’re almost gagging for that cool air again.
This year the festival was headlined by NZ stalwarts Shihad as well as Brant Bjork, Dwarves and Nashville Pussy from the US. Ably supported by Indonesian stoner rockers Mooner and Kelompok Penerbang Roket as well as Sweden’s Bottlecap and Spain’s Bala and a swag of Aussies that are well known to the Cherry crowd.
It was a bit of a buzz for me personally to see Nick Oliveri with Dwarves – as a fan of Queens of the Stone Age, it was the first time I’d had a chance to see Oliveri perform in the flesh. He was thrilling on bass, if a little daunting. And his bandmate in Blag Dahlia was so in your face it was verging on uncomfortable to be shooting so close to the stage.
Brant Bjork and his fuzzy desert rock tunes were welcome refuge in the middle of the day. It was nice to bliss out a little before the senses were assaulted with the addition of fellow desert rock icon Sean Wheeler. He was a showman from the first, and brought some real energy to a cruisy set from Bjork.
But my highlights for the day were the chicks. Amyl and the Sniffers are a local Melbourne outfit with a mullety/sharpie/bogan vibe that gives no fucks at all what you think of their VB t-shirts. Frontwoman Amy is shouty and loud and brash and totally commandeering. She held the familiar Cherry crowd in the palm of her hand while simultaneously spitting them out with a spray of her beer.
My other highlight was Bala from Spain. A two piece, all female wall of sound. Flinging hair, shouting lyrics, freaking loud guitar and smashing drums. It was a killer set and I was quite blown away by how much noise came out of just two people.
Cherry Rock, I salute you and all your messy glory. You’re a Melbourne institution and while I was pretty crook this year and it was a little harder to enjoy you, I was thrilled to be able to witness your shenanigans once more.