Static Age Festival
Dirty Shirlows Sydney
April 24 2009
When bands like Crab Smasher play there’s the tendency for punters to sit cross-legged on the floor nursing their longnecks. It could just be old-fashioned Romanesque sloth, but it might also have to do with the notion that, if you’re seeing an experimental rock band, you’re engaging with something much too cerebral to permit the stupid tribal act of dancing.
Among plenty of other folk, I sat for the first half of Crab Smasher’s set. Their recordings waver between languid atmospherics and subtlety-shirking punk-rock lunacy, so sitting down seemed the precautionary thing to do. Seeing Crab Smasher live brings clarity to everything they’ve committed to record though. They have a fey, bubblegum punk demeanour that belies the type of aural decimation they sometimes indulge in on record, and the group often look childishly proud of the weird riffage they’re emitting, like a child repeating their parents’ profanities to a friend. It’s a big, sloppy morass of unrefined rock textures, cindering noise, and a tom-happy rhythmic scaffolding provided by Marnie Vaughn, who smiles gaily throughout the whole set while maintaining a steady up-tempo.
Crab Smasher plays a very base, vivisected version of rock, where the textures of the instruments and the sound of amplification itself bleed all over the place with the gratuity of a Troma casualty. Hilarious extremes are their forte, but they’re a pop band through and through – Crab Smasher don’t emit the aura that they’re (puts on best revolutionary voice) “pushing forward through a climate of musical mediocrity”. If anything, Crab Smasher just seems determined to get every last goddamned arse off the floor tonight. They succeeded, at least, where I was involved.
by Shaun Prescott