A vibrant electricity shot through the Thebby Theatre from the first second crowds ran toward the stage anticipating the arrival of Australia’s own rock trio, Skegss. Originating in Byron Bay and consisting of Toby Cregan on bass, Ben Reed on lead vocals and guitar and Jonny Lani on drums, Skegss experiment with an exuberant variety of music from different eras.
Composing a mix of 1980’s pop punk and 1990’s grunge sounds, the boys create a successful surf and garage rock vibe. After performing with Australia’s 2019 Laneway Festival, Skegss return with their national tour, promoting their album My Own Mess.
The three support acts were blessed with an immediately full theatre of hyped up teens ready to party their Thursday night away. Ethanol Blend enthusiastically matched the crowds energetic mood and told us how Skegss watched them “play on a shitty IPhone, then decided to have us as their support band”. Ending their set with a cover of I Ran by the 1980’s new wave pop band A Flock of Seagulls, Ethanol Blend thanked us for jamming with them and introduced us to the next acts of the night.
NSW bands Mini Skirt, the punk lovechild of Nirvana and Sex Pistols, sang their popular tune Billy Elliot, further winding up the youthful audience. Then Totty, a shed rock trio were next on stage. The support acts were a complementary blend of Skegss’ music style, setting up a perfect party atmosphere for the boys.
Surprisingly, Skegss’ on-the-road MC and comedian walked on stage and set us up with a few laughs about footy teams and his very own “beer gut”. He united the audience as they cheered him on, then finally, the lights shone on the ‘SKEGSS’ sign and the trio humbly walked in, looking out at a packed theatre. The nights standard chaotic energy had just begun, when the trio started with Smogged Out. The crowd erupted in a musical frenzy of garage rock, moshing together, making friends as the hypnotic grungy tune flowed through the crowd. Then, watching from above, a sea of heads rose and fell as fans created a visual that reflected Ben and Toby’s repetitive and electric guitar rhythms and vocals from Mustang, chanting together; “go out do whatever you wanna”.
The fans, well and truly connecting by now, started to sing “enjoy the sunshine” as they danced along to the chilled surf song L.S.D. Next up, Need To Do showcased the bands explosive tones and their particular bond with millennial’s. This track highlighted the magic of monotonous melodic bass and drums combined with raspy vocals and lyrics such as “All I need to do is mow my lawn, all I need to do is let my grass grow. All I need to do is be productive, all I need to do is be destructive”, echoing the addictive energy of 90’s grunge culture and music style.
The boys smiled at the crowd as they started playing Road Trip. The song needed no introduction, as every fan erupted amongst the familiar anthem, standing on each other’s shoulders, flipping and creating circle pits. One anthem raged into the next as Toby instructed everyone to “sit down”. The entire theatre sat on the floor, waiting for what we knew would be the pop rock melodies and bass of New York California. The crowd joined Ben and Toby, repetitively whispering then shouting “I’m going down to New York California I got my coca-cola and I got my cigarettes.” Then, thumping into a tsunami of jumping and crowd surfing, the floors and walls of Thebby Theatre vibrated with chaotic happiness. Hedonistic dance parties were scattered everywhere and I was unable to wipe the smile off my face, watching from above as the youthful crowd’s magnetic energy reverberated through the building. Toby walked up to Ben as they both played the guitar, heads touching and enjoying the moment as fans sang their whole song along with them.
In a rare calm moment of the night, Toby silly danced off stage with Jonny and left Ben to play solo, performing Heart Attack. This alternative track with unique lyrics, eased us into the next song; the Triple J Like a Version cover of Pixie’s Here Comes Your Man.
After Ben finished jamming and threw his guitar to the floor, Toby emphatically announced that the nights show was the “biggest show we’ve played in Adelaide!” At intermission all three guys faced each other and slowly starting riffing the intro to iconic Australian band, Silverchair’s Freak. At this point a total of three people cheered, highlighting how rare it was to have an audience member over the age of twenty in the Skegss crowd. Fitting and ironically, the boys started singing “I guess I’m not getting any younger, younger. Young once then you’re old forever.” Got On My Skateboard was the penultimate song of the night, right before Skegss ended with their arguably most popular tune Up in the Clouds from the 2018 album My Own Mess.
Never had I seen so many mullets in my life. The entire night was a throwback and indulgent feast of nostalgic music, backyard parties and fashion from the 1980’s and 90’s. Toby raised his beer towards the audience, shouted out “Cheers Adelaide! Thank you!” and followed Ben and Jonny off stage. Skegss will play a number of other shows around Australia in the coming month. They have joined with PLUS1 so that $1 from every ticket supports GO Foundation to create education opportunities for indigenous youth, so be sure to grab your tickets to their upcoming performances!
Live Review By Zara Zampaglione