Frankie’s Pizza below Hunter Street in Sydney has become the rock hangout of choice since opening three years ago with regular events and gigs on Sunday evenings bringing a spark of life to the Wynyard precinct that normally dies the moment business closes on Friday afternoon. The front section serves up the pizzas, through the swinging doors is where the action happens. The back room is a rock dive that carries echoes of haunts like Springfields and the Kardomah, but without the manky old smell of dope and (possibly) cocaine residue on every flat surface. Rock-themed pinball machines line one wall and every other available space is plastered with posters, stickers and graffiti. It’s dark, and it’s loud. But of course it is.
Glitoris will remain a mystery for now as Brisbane rockers Former Angels – none of whom are apparently former members of The Angels – were already on stage when I arrived, belting out some chunky garage rock that culminated in a solid version of ‘Evie’. While the small amount of people so far in attendance were unmoved by exhortations to join them in choruses of “woo ooo” and clapping along, the band played their hearts out regardless with lead guitarist George Phillips showing off a fancy selection of axes.
Melbourne’s Atomic Riot hit the Frankie’s stage next, rocking through a selection of uproarious 80s style party metal that suffered only from the sheer teenage-level cheesiness of titles and subject matter – ‘Your Dad’s Harley’, ‘Danger’s Daughter’, the groan-worthy ‘Whisky Business’ and one possibly called ‘A Pucker Lips’ (I’ll let you guess what that’s about) among others. A good dynamic band with tons of potential and a couple of flashy guitarists, more mature material would really be the icing on their cake.
Dellacoma Rio brought a more melodic vibe to the evening. The ex-Sunset Riot vocalist and his band were well-rehearsed from recent shows in other states and clearly had plenty of fans. His music had a smoother feel but was no less rocking and the inclusion of a couple of unexpected covers like Mountain’s ‘Mississippi Queen’ and ‘Show Me How to Live’ by Audioslave was a pretty cool move.
Eightball Junkies were back on the game after a long time away, debuting a new drummer and vocalist to a crowd that were evidently eager to see them. Despite tightness and evident improvement at a musical level, however, their performance felt rather flat. Frontman Willis possesses neither the charisma nor passion of previous singer Ceinwen Brown and his vocals seemed strangely limited to a mid-range growl. First night nerves, perhaps, but his eagerness didn’t translate to the performance that well.
With the show running about an hour behind, headliners Devine Electric were gracious and professional enough to cut their set down to five songs, but made every one of them count. From the Judas Priest-crossed with-Rose Tattoo rocker ‘It Happens All the Time’ to a version of ‘Down Payment Blues’ featuring a guest from the audience “helping out” on the chrous, Devine Electric were pure rock n roll, firing on all cylinders. Even with the truncated playing time these guys were clearly in the zone tonight; a slight hiccup with Eli Reskov’s keys didn’t harm them and it’s a shame they had to finish when they were clearly only just hitting top gear.
A school day next day and a two-hour drive home meant I had to cut out at that point, and given the lateness of the gig I’m not sure if Release the Hounds got to play at all, but the promise of a night of rock was certainly fulfiled by a good bunch of bands.