On a quiet Wednesday evening in the Hyde Park area of Leeds, a sparce crowd at the Brudenell Social Club were treated to an excellent set by Australian garage punks Vintage Crop. Hailing from Geelong, in the southwest of Melbourne, Vintage Crop have been a considerable force in the ever-growing Australian punk scene since their first release all the way back in 2016. They deal in jerky, angular tunes set against smart, often sarcastic, lyricism delivered by frontman Jack Cherry. The band have evolved a lot in sound since their early releases, now finding their own unique blend of flailing, deft guitar music. This was the band’s first time gigging around the UK, their tour saw them visit small venues in Bristol, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, Glasgow and London promoting the release of their latest album Kibitzer, released via Anti Fade Records in Australia and Upset! The Rhythm in the UK.
After a fairly standard support set by Rory and the Nature Kids, followed by a pretty decent support set by Volk Soup, the Aussies took to the stage. In spite of the palpable jet lag, and the disappointingly small crowd which was strewn arbitrarily across the main room at Brudenell, Vintage Crop played a fantastic show, the setlist spanning from new releases to old favourites like 2020’s ‘The North’ (the chorus of which, “It’s cold, in the North” felt particularly relevant in Leeds that evening). As you might expect from listening to their music, the band give an energetic and entertaining live performance and have an austere coolness to their stage presence. Musically, the group employ that classic Melbourne garage punk sound that UK audiences are becoming more familiar with as of late, they do not sound dissimilar to the likes of Pinch Points, Ausmuteants or Mini Skirt for instance. Perhaps due to Vintage Crop being from Geelong, though, their sound does have its own identity and quirkiness which sets them apart from their inner-city peers. It is worth noting, too, that tracks like ‘American Living’ or ‘Gerald Pt.2’ connote the same jangly guitar sounds served up by the likes of Roxy Girls or Leeds’s very own Mush – which was perhaps a contributing factor to why Vintage Crop went down so well during their set at Brudenell – it is difficult to tell whether the Aussie bands were influenced by the UK indie rock groups or vice versa, but given the UK’s colonising history when it comes to Australia, I think you could make a pretty safe bet. The crowd at Brudenell, though small, seemed to react well to the band and given the reactions to the new album, if the group were to return to Leeds in the future the audience would be much greater, I imagine.
Now that covid restrictions have been loosened in Australia, we are seeing more and more bands coming over to do shows in the UK. Given the immense quality of the Australian DIY punk/garage rock scene, especially out of Melbourne, this is fantastic news for fans of live music! Two of Melbourne’s finest groups, Clamm and the aforementioned Pinch Points, are set to play Wharf Chambers a week apart later in the year and I, for one, welcome the Australian invasion!