Review: Vodka Party, The Tigers – Pony, Melbourne, Thu 06 Dec 2001

Go see both bands any chance you get. Nice venue, too. If bloody tiny.


The Pony is indeed the venue that used to be Little Reata’s Mexican Restaurant downstairs and the Level One nightclub upstairs. Now it’s a band venue upstairs and the front bar downstairs. It’s incredibly tiny and crowded, though the sound is quite good.

I managed to miss Laura MacFarlane because I suck. Oh well. For The Tigers, the best points of comparison I can think of are the Apartments (that voice is so Peter Milton Walsh) and Mercury Rev (particularly the trumpet mannerisms). Terrifyingly together – though not ‘tight’ as such – in songwriting and rapport; well-assembled, with stretch and flex. Near the end the singer sheds his guitar and shows his cabaret aspirations … I’m not sure if the band should be more po-faced or not. “Thank you Melbourne, we’re the Tigers from Perth, Buttfuck, Western Australia!” The fans appear to be out tonight – no encore, but shouts for one with song names.

Between bands, I got to tell Steve Phillips how much the layout of Sadness Is In The Sky zine sucks, and how the Font Nazis will get him in a drive-by one summer evening. So watch yourself, mate! If it weren’t for the content and the CDs …

The Vodka Party were touring from Tasmania, this being the last gig of the tour. The band name comes from a record called Wodka Party by Will Glahé, famous for “Beer Barrel Polka” in 1939, and they live up to it.

“If the Pogues sound Irish, and Mutiny sound like convicts from Sydney, then the Vodka Party sound Russian.” (Greg Wadley quote, as told by Ian Wadley.) If there’s a Tom Waits comparison, it’s the Brel/Brecht/Weill end – the idiosyncratic ’80s Island stuff. Riding the surreal edge and verging on silly, but straight-faced enough never to quite tip over.

They were also selling a Melbourne Tour EP for five bucks. Hey, I bought one. The lineup as per the cover is Andy Tanner (double bass, banjo, balalaika, accordion), Keith Mason (guitar), Dave Freedman (tuba), Jen Freedman (accordion), Dave Scully (banjo, accordion), Alex Pope (vocals) and Pete Middleton (percussion). Rollins/hardcore-style posing from the vocalist. The singer needs to gargle with cheap whisky to do the Tom Waits properly. (NME interviewer: “Have you ever considered insuring your voice?” Tom Waits: “What against? Vandals?”)

Yeah, see ’em when next they swing by. Entertainment that cares.

Dave from Vodka Party also says: “Mention the politics. We’re political as hell. The politics end where drugs start. The class struggle ends where the drugs start.”

5 thoughts on “Review: Vodka Party, The Tigers – Pony, Melbourne, Thu 06 Dec 2001

  1. The vocalist, Alex, used to play bass in the not-very-polka Sea Scouts. I think a bunch of the other members have hardcore/metal backgrounds…

  2. Hey David and Ben. This has been bugging me all week… have you remembered the name of the local band that the Vodka Party sound like yet? The band I’m thinking of has Paul from Salmonella in it and they supported R.S. Howard at the POW a few years back. When you work it out please post the band name?

  3. Dunno if it’s the one you’re thinking of, but the band I was thinking of was Christian High Art Boutique Missiles, generally shortened to CHABM. They did a silly cabaret kind of thing with the singer doing a cod-French accent. Singer was Angela, bass was Harry Howard (brother of Rowland S.).

    According to Greg Wadley: “It was often pretty funny. Most of the band members were pretty weird – 80s survivors. One of them was into strange religions and such. They played maybe 5 or 10 times, including the Empress, the Prince of Wales, and that wedge-shaped cafe in St Georges Rd. One time was supporting RSH I think. I mixed some of the shows. I haven’t heard from them for a while. I expect they no longer play in that form.”

    Vodka Party did remind me of them, but I couldn’t remember their name in time for the review.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.