RockNerd - December 30, 2001

and Band
w/ The Pink Stainless
Saturday, December 29 2001
Town Hall Hotel, North Melbourne

North Melbourne: where you can go and see Birthday Party guitarist and all-round legend Rowland S Howard play at your local, with his band, for free. And while some - door-charged - gigs the Howard band have played in the past have been a little less than great, tonight it all came together - thanks, in part, to the Grilled Cheese... The Grilled Cheese we're talking about here isn't toasted under the griller - it's a distortion pedal Howard borrowed from his brother Harry. Harry used to be in Rowland's previous backing band, These Immortal Souls, but tonight he was performing with his new garage rock outfit, the Pink Stainless (aka the Pink Stainless Tail). Garage rock... as it's done in a parallel, slightly skewed world - a world of art history, kinky sex and Temazepam. Not even a dying bass amp and the Town Hall's ludicrously tiny vocal PA could stop the Pink Stainless: they delivered minimal, swampy rockers with hot licks galore from Mr Howard, H. By the time Howard, R S, and his band took the stage, the ludicrously small Town Hall band room was pretty much totally full - to the point where getting to the bar involved a map, a packed lunch and crampons. Unlike his solo sets, where he plays pretty much anything (including, generally, some Dolly Parton), tonights RSH set was material from Teenage Snuff Film, his latest solo album. The band's a three piece: Rowland on guitar and vocals, Brian Hooper on bass and a bloke called (I think) Steve on drums. And they rocked, playing much of the material far faster than on the record. And the Grilled Cheese? 'It sounds so authentically Rowland,' said Harry Howard. 'It doesn't when I play it.' Indeed, Rowland sounded authentically Rowland: full of vim and vigour, and in good humour. Hell, he was even cracking funnies. He was also - unlike a recent solo show - on top of his guitar playing, knocking out those trademark fractured, akimbo riffs with style and gusto. So: angst rock done right. Going to see RSH should be compulsory for all those whining 'emo' kiddies. Come and have a look at a master at work.

- Ben Butler