Monday, 16 May 2016

The Triumphant Return of FACEplant

FACEplant, Grrumble and Shuda: Live at the Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle 14/05/2016

Nostalgia is a powerful thing. And there's nothing like a nostalgia gig to remind yourself how old you've become. Looking around the room at my fellow 1990s gig goers, my how we've aged! But all the beer bellies and receding, greying hairlines are not going to get in the way. The vibe in the room is electric and we're all hoping the main act will lift the roof off of this place.

We're gathered here on something of a red-letter occasion for adolescent Gen X Novocastrian gig goers from the 1990s: when FACEplant, the next big thing to follow Silverchair onto the national stage, make their rumoured resurrection a fact. Stories have been going around for years about this night, and finally, it happened.

The night opened with Shuda, a Central Coast band (they laughingly referred to themselves as "out-of-towners", but near enough). Warming up the crowd and fired up about the impending release of their second record, the crowd took to them and gave them some good attention. Pete Davies, combined larynx and 6-string shredder, is a big bloke with a big voice; the guitar in his hands looked almost miniature by comparison. He gave that thing a guttural rumble that let you know you were alive. He donned a King Parrot shirt for the set. However the band he fronts sounded nothing like the Sydney hardcore outfit. More like Shihad-meets-Iron Maiden. If anything, the first couple of songs sounded a little too deferential to their influences. Over the course of their short set they threw in enough stylistic curve balls to keep us guessing.


Aside from FACEplant getting back together, it was also a showcase for one of their contemporaries of the era, the recently reunited Grrumble. Grrumble made a mean sound out of one Les Paul, bass, vox and drums. While they trod a path with a heavy grunge feel, they always added elements of metal to the mix to create something quite interesting. They were a tight unit back in the day and tonight they proved they still had it. They played a crowd pleasing set, including this writer's personal favourite "Justice". Their 1995 EP has been reissued as was available at the Merch stand. Reviews to come later...


FACEplant (uppercase FACE, thank you) finally hit the stage to the sounds of an electronica and sample-heavy audio experiment. A remix of sorts of what turned out to be the opening song when the band slammed in seamlessly into the first chord. 20 years may have passed between gigs but who'd have known? The hair may be a lot shorter, but the band still had it. Their enthusiasm on stage was almost tangible and the packed house loved them for it. In 1994 the band were playing a melodic surf-grunge but by late 1995 they have turned darker into a drop-tuned, Shihad-esque grind. Tonight's set showed the best of both sides. They gave the crowd plenty to sing along to and quite a few tunes some of us hadn't heard - I'm looking forward to hearing them released in the near future. They played all the tracks from the now-near-impossible to find 1995 EP "Upper Case FACE" and taking a few risks with the arrangement on "Eyes", slowing down the tempo and revving up the drama.

FACEplant have made it clear they want to keep going as of now. If the shows are as good as Saturday night, the future looks bright for them. Now, if only they'd dig through the vault and release the vintage recordings for the fans and get some new tracks on the shelves to further the momentum.

Welcome back, lads...

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