Musical duos aren’t exactly a rarity, but discovering them for the first time is quite like finding treasure, especially how acts such Deap Vally, White Stripes and Royal Blood have put out some bangers over the years. Another one that deserves the spotlight is Atlanta-based two-piece ’68, featuring Josh Scogin (ex-The Chariot) and Michael McClellan (ex-Becoming the Archetype), who’ve been returning on a yearly basis, so far. But now, touring for their most recent studio effort “Two Parts Viper”, and to have a headline show all to themselves, ’68 was determined to bring one hell of a show to those at the Northcote Social Club, with the support of Grenadiers, Pagan and Crusch.
The evening kicked off with Crusch opening the stage. The four-piece brought a lukewarm style of alternative music, to an audience that was building up in the venue, slowly with about five songs planted into their set list. The band’s vocal bassist Benjamin Searle seemed to have felt slightly awkward with chatting to the crowd in between songs. The band themselves, seemed very mellow on stage, compared to a majority of the evening’s lineup, but they still provided a decent set for those that rocked up early to show strong support for the city’s scene. They would later announce that they were playing with Real Friends at the Evelyn Hotel in a couple of weeks.
Next up on the bill, Pagan brought a ferocious dosage of punk and traces of black metal into the mix and had the whole room shaking, crazily. Though, having issues relating to the bass amps after the first track, they showed a humorous side of themselves by talking about how their guitarist was getting a new bed delivered to his house, and so on. Nonetheless, Pagan had the most antagonising stage presence while delivering their tunes to the patrons of Northcote. Unfortunately, due to troubles with the bass amp earlier, Pagan had to cut their set short. However, it wasn’t much of a deal-breaker, as the blackened punk quartet still brought a powerful, supporting set to please the audience, and gain themselves some new fans in the making. Really safe to say that they were one of the best choices to support ’68.
With each band decreasing numbers on the members in bands, from two quartets to a trio, Adelaide locals Grenadiers tore shit up in Northcote with a fast, gritty and abrasive punk personas. Now, with the room filling up faster, Grenadiers helped build the anticipation and the excitement for those that were willing to see ’68. The three-piece had a number of new songs that they would perform including one entitled “Ramona”, which was the ‘last song on the album’. Grenadiers had a promising performance within their half-hour time slot and to be honest, it really doesn’t take much for one to get into what they had to offer. They may seem like an everyday three-piece in the eyes of the overlookers, but they carry a lot of potential on their shoulders and the band’s name.
Moving the drum kit forward, and now onto the headlining duo ’68, one great, big, frenzy of noise-punk rock broke out of the amps. Josh and Mike were both dressed in formal attire, facing each other all throughout the set. Most of the movement in the crowd came from the very front and centre of the stage, which kind of came as a surprise, as I had expected a bigger mosh pit to go down. Considering that this was a new band that was fronted by the ex-vocalist of The Chariot, one would’ve anticipated everything being thrown around, across the room. However, that wasn’t the case. But, it still showed that Josh and Mike were executing one of the noisiest and hardest sets I’ve witnessed this year.
Performing fifty-five minutes’ worth of material from their debut “In Humour or Sadness” and their sophomore “Two Parts Viper”, ’68 brought an emulsion of noise, punk, blues and even a tinge of experimental music into the mix. They also had a handful of effects put into Josh’s vocals, conducted by the selection of pedals he had under his feet. This would be transparent during tracks such as Whether Terrified or Unafraid and No Apologies. Josh Scogin had a purposely, awkward portrayal of his humorous side in between songs, where he would say stuff like “This is a new song you’ve never heard us play before, please sing along!”, or even “this is another song, that we haven’t played yet! So, if you know the words, uhh… neat!” Josh would eventually ask a fan at the front to hold his guitar, while taking his blazer off and rolling the sleeves on his shirt, before getting into the next track, earlier in the set.
In conclusion, ’68 were a really difficult act for me to be able to describe in the right context. Despite being a new fan and found this to be one of my favourite shows of the year, you can’t rely too much on the words from other people who have witnessed ’68 before, if you want details on what they’re like live. The only way to understand the value and eminence of a ’68 live show, is to actually go out and see the gig for yourself. So, be sure to secure tickets the next time they return to Oz.