Flesh Vs Venom at Pony, 06-10-07.
Resisting the almost overwhelming urge to just stay at home listening to the new Fear Like Us record, I catch the tram into the city to see Flesh Vs Venom at the Pony. Almost as soon as I arrive Mel asks about the whereabouts of my bike, and I have to confess to her that I’ve left it at home because, well, a girl I kinda had a crush on while I was at uni is in town tonight and I’m supposed to be catching up with her after the show. And, well, it’s hard to take someone home when you have your bike with you. Girls in their going-out clothes don’t tend to react well to being offered a dink.
So I’m in a positive frame of mind. Mel and I stand out the front of Pony, me metaphorically smoking a cigarette, she literally smoking one. I tell her about my attempts to define Flesh to a friend earlier that day, and how I ended up just throwing out adjectives. “Pressurized… Claustrophobic… Tense….” Mel tells me she too has a tough time of it, and takes the easy way out, loosely comparing them to Joy Division and Bauhaus.
But when they start up they blow those comparisons out of the water. Squalls of feedback (later revealed to be not entirely intentional) and reverb make this one of the loudest shows I’ve ever been to, even at Pony. Kody belts his guitar and twiddles with knobs, barely breaking rhythm as he changes up the sound. Amy is in good form tonight – apparently unable to hear herself in the foldback from her position behind her keyboard in the centre of stage, she unwraps the mic cord and edges closer to the side of the stage, bouncing up and down with the music the way Angela Pippos bounces when she reads the sports on the ABC news. Later in the evening, perhaps during the second or third last song, she’ll duck down behind the keys. I’m momentarily distracted, wondering what she’s doing, curiosity getting the better of me. She’s looking at her hands, pressing her fingers against each other, adjusting her wedding ring. It’s a soft, intimate moment in the midst of punishing gales of noise.
Last week, after the show at the Fitzroy Bowls Club, none of the band had been impressed with their own performance. And they had a point. They were loose and out of practice, missing cues and – on one occasion – starting a song in the wrong key. The kids in the crowd – me included – didn’t seem to mind. The songs, I guess, are so well written that they carry the band through even their most unenthusiastic evenings. But tonight Flesh are on point – sharp as a fucking scalpel and ready to inflict pain. Marty and Tim push the songs along on drums and bass respectively, ever insistent, like a bully peer-pressures a dork. Kody shatters glass with his guitar, providing a counterpoint to Amy whose right hand work occasionally takes a quirky pop tone. I think, though, that it’s her left hand that really drives the Flesh Vs Venom sound, essentially bringing to the band another bassplayer, which gives them a depth that is impossible to escape from. She’s not a typical dance-punk band keyboard player, hitting one key at a time, and they benefit from this immensely.
I’m having trouble finding the words to describe the way they play. I’m writing this later in the evening, and trying to explain it to
My phone goes off midway through the set, but for perhaps the first time in months I ignore it. Later, when I check it, it’s a message from my friend Nat Graf, who is hanging out with the aforementioned crush from university. They’re going home, he says, the crush has to work tomorrow. I’m momentarily disappointed, but it doesn’t last long. I say my goodbyes and walk off, stopping for Lord of the Fries on the way home.