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Words by Steve Shelverton

To see the aptly named The Grogans in the river city, with its twisted brown river often colloquially referred to as The Brown Snake does make me giggle, although whenever I listen to The Grogans it makes me smile. The last time I saw The Grogans was in September 2023 when they rocked the Felons Barrel Hall so hard it whipped up a frenzy of bull sharks along the edges of our murky brown snake, well-lit and writhing under the lights of the majestic Story Bridge (author’s freedom to use artistic licence here).

The Grogans 2023 Album ‘Find Me a Cloud’ is a meld of surf blues, rock reggae, punkesque guitar hooks that saturated the airwaves of triple j in 2023/24. The racing guitar adventure of I Cannot Read Your Mind and Nowhere to Be are hotter than a Birdsville tin roof in summer. I was therefore flabbergasted that the lads did not make either the hottest 100 nor the 200 in the democratic music travesty (absent of guitars in the top 20). Exacerbating this confusion triple j played The Grogans 6 times the following day after the hottest 200. In the post-countdown confusion and angst, I reached out to The Grogans to vent my frustration that they were not in the top 100, let alone the top ten! Their response, just like their song Lay Back and as genuine as their music;

 “Ahaha Thanks mate, we appreciate it”.

Literally wearing my heart on my sleeve with Aus music (my favourite Aus band is tattooed on my forearm), in disbelief and coming to terms with the 2023 hottest 100’s notable absence of the Aus Punk rock bands (that in my subjective opinion deserved a place in the countdown), I was consoled by my friends from a band (I’ll keep anonymous) whom shared this analysis; “Don’t worry about it mate, to earn loyal fans that love our music, become our friends, and continue to support us year after year means more than getting a place in a popularity contest.”

With these words ruminating in my mind, it warms my heart to see a bulging crowd assembled in Support of The Grogans tonight at the Triffid. It was feeling like a Disney movie premiere tonight, not only was it an all-ages show (big props for Triffid staff enabling this). With the under-age punters excitedly swaying on the balcony upstairs, I was easily also the oldest bloke in the room downstairs, but I’m more than happy with this. Seeing young faces gather en masse is a great sign for the live Aus music longevity and its world-class live music venues to thrive. Let’s face it, it’s been troubling and uncertain times for the Australian music industry recently, with three festivals receiving a death knock this past week alone. We hold our horns up and fingers crossed in hope to preserve this vitally important industry with the announcement of the newly launched Federal Cultural Policy- for the next 5 years ‘Revive’, hoping it lives up to its promise.

I made it to the last song by Brisbane Locals, Mt. Nadir. I saw them perform at The Brightside earlier this year, and The Triffid acoustics have really enhanced their sound, providing a rich and condensed full feel to their yet-to-be-released track Knife’s Edge. This track has a soothing harmony that was magically settling on the tightly assembled crowd on the barricade that were eagerly awaiting the next two acts, yet they were fully engaged with Mt. Nadir, and gaining new fans in the process.

Now it’s time for Bones and Jones – I wasn’t sure what to expect with what has been described as “country-tinged rock” as I usually go to great lengths to avoid anything resembling country, until they grabbed me with No More Worries (Oh Yeah), a blues roots rhythm hook, that had everyone stuck in a harmonica fixated trance. As I stood leaning against the emerald green subway tile lined walls on the left side of the aerodrome theatre, jaw dragging on the newly resealed Triffid floor, Jordan Lewis the drummer of The Grogans walked past me, recognising him I said “How good are these guys?” he replied “This is my favourite band, they are so bloody good.”

Bones and Jones have proved popular in the USA at SXSW 24, and I can see how this 5-piece Victorian fire brand of heavy deep south rock would have dynamic appeal. With a slew of well written tracks utilising bending stuttered guitar riffs, chunky keys and the smooth vocals in a tight rhythm, it draws in the unsuspecting. The standout has to be the mouth harp solo, I’ve been fortunate to see bands like The Moving Stills, Radium Dolls and JB Paterson showcase their gums on the harp, however I have to say Bones and Jones have got the masters title and worth seeing just for that alone.

With a short glitch in the AC being restored during a longer than usual intermission The Grogans drew inspiration from Brisbane Local Triffid wall-of-famers – Powderfinger as the intro theme. Quin Grunden entered wielding a Gibson in his signature AC/DC t-shirt and red cap, and wavy hair poking out, (Sir Angus Young salutes you). Angus Vasic, took spot on his right with a cool calmness with his axe and Jordan in a Harley Davidson t-shirt on the tubs, ready to roll on with what would be just shy of a 20 ish-song set list. (Authors note: The Grogans have an Artists Playlist on Spotify for the Find me a Cloud Tour Set list. Not only a godsend for music reviewers, it’s just nudging an hour of blissful tracks perfect for those longer drives).

The set opened with the foxy lady feels of I Need You, perfectly summarising the trio. The Grogans sound is tightly wound and self-contained like a jack-in-the-box that can either pop out heavy, or serenade you in softness, and this track has you on the edge of the former, whereas the next track Overheat proves my point as the Victorian lads felt it particularly relevant on this QLD sojourn. Angus greets the crowd “How are ya Brissie? Big ups to our friends Bones and Jones.” Just prior to the melancholic Woke Up Feeling Alright which maintained the chilled pace (The song title is not something I could relate too on the Sunday after seeing Dad Fight, My friend Chloe, Its Acrylic, Fat Dog and The Tits explode at a punk celebration ‘Shitfaced’ at Stranded bar that lived well and truly up to its name on Saturday).

Mellow core memories were formed around the crowd to the tunes of I’m Not Sure with its infectious “ooows” and the ever popular No Thanks (I’m Going Surfing). Brisbane was treated to the ‘on special occasions only’- Le Fang lifting the RPMs as the precursor to the cymbal cracking anthem Nowhere To Be. The Grogans have long credited 60’s surf rock as an influence, I would suggest not just lyrically but the space between the waves. Their sets between the king tide like numbers of Nowhere To Be are placed between the calm lapping breaks such as Lemon To My Lime, which funnily enough sees more people climbing onto shoulders (and keeping them there during the gentleness of How Would You Know), probably more so than the hard breaking tracks in The Grogans catalogue.

Quin relays that the new song, Can’t Stand is for anyone out there struggling at the moment. There was a distinct look of pride on the lads faces, and they expressed they have wanted to play this venue for a long time. Angus looked down the theatre, waving to the balcony and observing the half pipe corrugated roof saying “What a venue, it feels like I’m in a loaf of bread in here!” Perhaps that was the right intro before the carb heavy Head In The Sand? Fellow ‘Like A Version’ addicts you may recall one of the sharpest in the past 12 months was the lads cover of The Kinks You Really Got Me. The organic chemistry from being a highschool formed trio delivers in a pure fun dedication to this classic, they own it, its rawness, the builds and sonic energy with guitars ablaze.

The early rock influence continued on with the country rock hook of Do You Ever Wonder, with the crew from Bones and Jones joining on stage to flexing their style with some lap steel guitar sounds. The addition of a bass broadened the fell of Lay Back, with that bonkers timing change after the one-minute mark. Quin instructed the crowd on the chorus line for the breezy Stay High, urging us to partake in this tasty musical contraband. Another rock throwback Got a Girl gathered momentum for the off the chain crowd favourite – I Cannot Read Your Mind. After a previous long life in the military, I find the salutation of Hey Ma’am uniquely entertaining, with the increased intensity of solid guitar licks on the live set, it was easy to see how Quin vaporised a guitar string into thin air in the process. Instead of restringing by a guitar tech or swapping guitars, Jordan came out from behind drums to play on his guitar, freeing Quin to give it his all on vocals. I hope this remains a part of their regular set. A brief encore ensued, after the pause it seemed Jordan preferred being front and centre on guitar, this prompted Quin to take full advantage of his new found freedom and leave the stage heading to the barricade to belt out the closing track, Money Will Chase You – I think he wanted to stay in Brisbane.

After the show, my good friend Quintin and I decided to test out the AAA passes kindly given to us, and entered the enchanted green room. The space lined with paraphernalia of band tour posters that had sold the venue out over the years, Including the DZ Deathrays 2018 Bloody Lovely tour poster, and the shipping container door signed by some of our favourite acts, Sophisticated Dingo, Beddy Rays and many more. Quin had a chat about how much fun the tour has been, and the way they chose to shape the setlist to peak and chill between songs, as The Grogans portfolio is a 50/50 split of hard rocking heavy beat and laid-back surf chilling vibe, so they wanted to keep the crowd contained by interweaving one hard track followed by something mellow. Quintin and I were in agreement as we recalled the Felons show had more of a wild atmosphere of crowd surfing antics, without that setlist restraint.

We shook hands with Jordan, who has the meatiest paw hands I have ever shook! Perhaps forged from a lifetime smashing drum sticks constructed of lead onto granite drum heads has morphed his hands to resemble that of a polar bear! He spoke about starting out on bass, and going on tour with Bones and Jones being such a thrill for him.  We thanked them both and let them return to the sounds of popping champagne corks, echoing in The Triffid green room shipping container. To witness their rejoicing and how genuinely excited they were to serve up a cracker of a show at The Triffid, which is both a venue and city they admire whole heartedly, is one I won’t ever forget. In fact, it has given me a much broader smile on my face when I hear The Grogans music.



Thanks to This Much Talent

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