The Hard-Ons

Showing the kids how it's done



It seems like there is interesting new music coming to the surface every week at the moment. Sometimes it can all seem like a bit of a blur. Sometimes, you need to be reminded of just how simple good music can be. It's great to see the Hard Ons back and making sure everyone remembers what a truly great punk show is like.


Most of us know the story, but for the uninitiated the Hard Ons formed 21 years ago in the suburbs of Sydney. It appealed to their teenage minds to come up with the most offensive name they could get away with to match their full-tilt punk sound. Blackie (guitar/vocals), Keish (Drums/vocals) and Ray (bass/vocals) set off on the ultimate punk rock career. Shunned by the mainstream, loved by the world's punk rock illuminati, the Hard Ons released some of the most credited albums of any Aussie act.


After touring and recording relentlessly for over 15 years, Keish left and it looked like the Hard Ons would die the usual ‘imploding great band that never made it' death. But recently fans started banging their heads into walls and pushing over strangers in anticipation of a full-on Hard Ons reunion. Keish was back, reborn as lead singer with Pete Kostic on drums. The band made it to the Lewisham Tavern on 29 June.


The Roobs started the night with a brutal rock and roll set. They are one band who, incredibly, sound better the louder they are, and the huge PA was to their liking. They really worked the crowd with a tight set and got the collective pulse of a room full of eager fans pumping.


The Hard Ons took an eternity to set up, but when Blackie said "hello" and kicked into ‘Creeps', no one cared. The first salvo of songs (Creeps, Techno, Pimple and U Can Fuck Off) was played by the current Hard Ons line-up (Blackie, Ray and Pete) and had the crowd in a lather. Within minutes the mosh was packed and I really regretted turning up to the gig with a broken toe.


Some newer post-Kiesh songs followed, like ‘Agro', ‘Should Be Mad' and ‘Taxi'. One brand new song sounded disturbingly like ‘My Sharona' but if you're going to see a band play that song it might as well be the Hard Ons, right?


Then, unbelievably, the intensity picked up. Keish fought his way past the bouncers (who had no idea who he was and wouldn't let him on stage until Blackie intervened) and joined the band. Classics like ‘I Do, I Do, I Do', ‘Getaway', ‘Don't Wanna See You Cry' and ‘Girl In a Sweater' followed. The crowd went berserk, Blackie re-introduced us to the ‘Helicopter Hair' move and Keish danced like only an awkward drummer-cum-front man could.


The whole night, though, was defined by the best version of ‘Suck and Swallow' I've ever heard. It's a great riff, their best in fact, and serial fill-in drummer, Peter Kostic (Front End Loader and Regurgitator) lead the way. The song lasted a delirious ten minutes, and the crowd would not have minded if it went for ten more. Half way through Keish crowd surfed (how 90s!) and Ray played the bass behind his head better than most bass players can do normally.


At that stage the crowd was manic and the bouncers looked nervous. The band called it a night and after a short encore all the sweaty boys and girls went home happy.


After the gig, Keish shook hands with the punters, signed old LPs and generally looked like a cross-between a rock god and the biggest fan in the room.


The Hard Ons really know how to wring everything out of a riff, a song and a crowd and it was all there to see and experience. It's sad that this line up will not continue on, but in another way it makes the night even more special. We can only hope we do not wait another 21 years for a gig this good.

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