Regurgitator @ The Hi-Fi

It’s odd to think that the band I saw playing at the Hi-Fi Melbourne the other night have been playing and making music for as long as I’ve been alive. Regurgitator celebrated 19 years as a band in 2012 and they did it in a manner the likes of which they’ve never attempted before.

Regurgitator’s first two releases, Tu-Plang and Unit, are regarded as seminal Australian records, spawning hits like “Polyester Girl” and “Blubber Boy”.

Since that time Regurgitator have become one of Australia’s most-loved acts, performing at a plethora of festivals and touring regularly. Their music features a satirical to socially aware brand of lyrics backed by catchy hooks filled with gutsy guitars and synths.

On Friday 12 October the sold-out crowd at the Hi-Fi were treated to a performance of the band’s first two records in full, played back to back. But before the Gurge took to the stage, Indonesian band Senyawa showcased their bizarre experimental musical stylings.

Senyawa don’t use typical instruments – instead their music is comprised entirely of the voice of the front man and a bizarre, stringed, bamboo based instrument. The band played three or four ten-minute pieces with exuberance and energy, jumping down to the ground level and performing in the crowd as well as on stage.

At about 10:30 Regurgitator bounced onto the stage in double denim and the projected backdrop showed a retro exercise class complete with fluoro lyrca and legwarmers. It was the perfect kind of irony we have learnt to expect from the Gurge.

The crowd roared and sang along as they blasted through the first couple of tracks from Tu-Plang at great speed. Quan, lead guitarist and frontman, remarked that the band hadn’t played some of the songs in over ten years, and as such might be a little bit “loose”.

They were almost perfect, of course, not that the crowd would have cared one bit. Rap rock track “Kong Foo Sing” saw Quan juggling lead guitar duties and a tongue twister of a rap, which drew a big audience reaction.

The band showed off some of their dronier tracks with “Social Disaster” before moving into the slightly creepy “Music is Sport”, one of my favourite tracks by the band. The surf-rocking “348 Hz” saw Quan swap bandmate Ben a guitar for a bass and load it up with Tame Impala-esque swirling guitar layers. They closed the first half of the set with “Blubber Boy” and the crowd really lifted for the first time that night.

The band ran off stage and took ten minutes to compose themselves before coming back wearing silver morph suits to give Unit a real crack. The opening synth hook of “I Like Your Old Stuff Better Than Your New Stuff” got the crowd up and dancing as I reflected upon the irony of Regurgitator playing this track on an anniversary tour.

They proceeded into “Everyday Forumla”, a heavier track that got the crowd really pumping before performing “! (The Song Formally Known As)”, the highlight of the evening. It wasn’t long before we got to the final track of Unit, “Just Another Beautiful Story”. This nostalgic, sixties-influenced track was accompanied by images of a cartoony solar system and was the perfect way to round out the set of classics.

No one was really expecting an encore for such a mammoth set, but Regurgitator bounced back on stage wearing massive hippie wigs to perform newer tracks, and even a track from their first EP, with the support act. It was interesting watching as the combination of the energetic performers allowed them to feed off each other’s energy and put on a great show.

Closing with a DEVO cover, it was certainly a night to remember at the Hi-Fi. Regurgitator have certainly had 19 strong years. Here’s hoping there are 19 more where that came from.

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