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by Amelie Ries
posted 27/05/2019

REVIEW: The Seven Ups & Thunder Fox at the Metro’s Lair

The Seven Ups & Thunder Fox @ The Metro’s Lair, 23 May 2019

Reviewed by Bibi – Queer for Your Ears

Driving bass lines, triumphant bursts of brass, ripped up rock on lead guitar – that’s laced with the right amount of acid – and Afro beats that punch hard straight through to the heart! This is Melbourne seven-piece The Seven Ups who have it as their mission to ‘blend 1970’s Nigerian Afrobeat with the deepest of street funk’, and tonight, they brought it big time to the Lair at the Metro, shaking the shit out of the cool little cavern there!

There’s more than six year’s experience in The Seven Ups, recording and playing live together, and it shows. But what knocks us out is the passionate frenzy of the live effort. They’re having so much fun and it’s infectious. You’ve gotta be brave to stick it out through tougher economic times as a big band, and the crowd at The Metro showed their full appreciation on the dance floor. The Seven Ups create a party! And their set closer – Stampede – is the demented lovechild of ACDC, Ian Dury, and somehow – Ozzy Osborne too!

In between acts, in the house music, we’re soon being given hints about what’s to come in the Thunder Fox set: some Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Now of course, the 22 year-old space cadet who approaches me, spinning and reeling in the darkness near the bar, could not have known that I was his age when Under the Bridge was first released, but he still comes at me with: ‘Ye-e-e-e-e-a-a-a-a-h-h-h, Lord!!’ I pause and wait for more news. But none comes, so, I ask him how he’s travelling. He says: ‘Fu-u-u-u-u-u-u-uck man! I’m trippin’ off nuts, ma-a-a-a-a-a-a-an! Best … Gig … Ever, Lord!’ There seems to be a bit of this about in The Lair this Thursday evening in Sydney, and I feel sure I’ve just met the Thunder Fox fan base.

I’d only recently come across two songs – 241 and Squeedup – before wanting, nay: NEEDING to see Thunder Fox live. It’s such a funkily fresh sound. It bounces and pops, and is another fine celebration of beats and brass! And the Thunder Fox boys are as camp as they are cheeky. Each time we play a track of theirs on our Eastside Radio show Queer for Your Ears, we talk about how much we want to claim them as one of ours, but do we need to? There are men smiling. Digging each other big time. Being lithe and sly. Lead singer Sam Dawes holds a stance with one foot on the foldback that smacks of David Bowie’s off-kilter thing in the clip for Heroes. And the zippers on the front of all their jump suits slink down lower and lower as the set progresses. It’s all very sexy. And there are both young women and men at the stage’s edge, dancing in wild raptures to the psychedelic funk-rock goodness! Why try to claim any edge of queerness when fluidity’s already won the day and is so clearly speaking for itself.

At times, Sam Dawes scream-sings up in a range so high you can’t help thinking that Jimmy Somerville just met Jimmy Barnes and they’re battling it out in the heavens. In one track he tries a few strains of ‘I love to love you baby …’ and it’s sublime. The other two who sing are quite often up there with him too, in sweet harmony. Thunder Fox hail from over near Manly in Sydney somewhere so it seems the Northern Beaches have finally dome something right (I mean apart from booting out Abbott of course!) The high point of the night comes in the encore, when Thunder Fox cover Rage Against the Machine’s anthem Killing in the Name Of … With a regal wave of arms, a plus-sized trans dancer at the front of the mosh pit shepherds us down into a crouch for the build-up to the chorus, then … It goes off! We jump, we bounce, we scream, we sweat and we sing the refrain that we all know FOR SURE is our cathartic and tribal response to the Saturday just gone past: ‘Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!’

But Lament No Longer the Election Result! Complain No More about Sydney Closing Down! Just Kill Two Birds – GO … SEE … BANDS … LIKE … THESE!!

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