The Lansdowne Hotel maintains a high standard for live music and concerts, regardless of the performer. Last Saturday featured one of the more outlandishly rowdy line-ups in recent memory, which perfectly suited the Lansdowne’s dingy show room and the 90 years of beer and sweat that have soaked into the walls. The Cosmic Psychos have been one of Australia’s rawest, raucous rock bands since their formation in 1977. With age certainly comes experience, but in the case of the Cosmic Psychos this hasn’t altered their ‘yob rock’ style. In 2018, they’re bitter, not better. Too old to give a damn, the Cosmic Psychos’ uniquely fun music made the Lansdowne audience feel the kind of dumb joy that only rock n roll can make you feel.
Before the main event were supporting acts Pist Idiots and Ute Root. Melbourne band Ute Root had the daunting task of opening to the shoulder to shoulder packed floor, but their distinctly raunchy style was enough to set the mood for the rest of the show. Hit song ‘Ketamine Queen’ got people away from the bar and into the mosh with its grungy guitar and explicit lyrics, grabbing the audience’s attention and refusing to let go. Following them was Sydney’s own Pist Idiots, who had that connection to the local crowd which only Sydney bands have. With a softer, more alternative rock sound, the Pist Idiots brought things down to a slower pace. They kept the crowd enthralled, however, with the emotion of songs like ‘Surry Hills’ and ‘Fuck Off’. Closing their set with ‘Take It or Leave It’, the whole crowd was jumping up and down, belting out the track’s cathartic climax of “questions and answers”. Following the supporting acts, the crowd was hot. Fuelled by booze and rock, the stage was set for the Cosmic Psychos.
They have been described as punk rock, grunge and pub rock, but the most defining feature of their music is their attitude. Their hard, vulgar and aggressive demeanour mixed with an infectious love of rock n roll results in a band who probably could’ve called it quits back in the 90s, but are just having too much fun to stop. Whether it’s lead singer/guitarist Ross Knight’s repeated nasal “fuckin’ bullshit, mate” on ‘Bitter, Not Better’, or lead guitarist John “Mad Macka” McKeering’s boisterous vocals on ‘Fuckwit City’, Cosmic Psychos are distinctly Australian. In sum, they are a couple of old yobbos playing in front of a crowd half their age and loving every second of it.
As they began their set, blasting the audience with their loud guitars and heavy drums, the mosh pit erupted. In order to match the rambunctious tone of songs like ‘It’s A Nice Day to Go to The Pub’, people were throwing themselves around, bringing the mosh to life.
The Cosmic Psychos were relentless, playing at a breakneck pace that kept the crowd roaring. One minute the rowdy audience would barge into one another, determined to cause as much bodily damage to themselves as possible, and the next they would be throwing each other in the air to crowd surf, yet delicately ensuring people made it back down safely.
Beer after beer was consumed, and that was just the band. Taking a break for drummer Dean Muller to give a five-minute solo, Ross and Mad Macka made a cheeky trip to the bar.
If the crowd was fired up before, this brief intermission shifted things into the next gear. The two guitarists took off their shirts, exposing their old, out of shape bodies in all their glory. Their hit ‘Feelin’ Average’, featuring guttural vocals, shredding guitar and energetic drums, forced heads to bang, feet to move and fists to pump through sheer force of the band’s personality. After seeing Mad Macka, shirtless, playing his screeching slide guitar with a pure blonde bottle, their continuation of the punk attitude is plain to see.
When the Lansdowne’s long history of rowdy nights clashes with the intensity of a Cosmic Psychos gig, something truly unique happens. The crowd was electric, amped up by high voltage rock and roll. Loud, rude, raunchy but, most importantly, fun is everything an Aussie rock show at the pub should be and the Cosmic Psychos delivered on all fronts.