TISM, review of Melbourne PoW show, Simon Wallis, In Press, 02/10/02

[This article was accompanied by three very good photos by Julia Wallis. Not "good" in the sense of sharply focused or indeed even possible to recognise who's in the shots, but good in the sense of capturing the nature of TISM's live show. Photo 1  Photo 2 Photo 3]

The support acts had long since passed, the clock read close to midnight and it was hot - bloody hot. Looking around the Prince of Wales band room I realised why. We were packed in tight. All you could do is hope to God the people next to you practiced good hygiene. We swayed as a single unit - the well dressed, the messed up, the confused, the teeny boppers, the flannel bearing, the long haired, the no haired, the slinky skinnies in hipsters, the mohawks, the overweight in oversized jumpers, the oldish in polos, the youngish in nothing - they were all there in this one bloody hot room.

The TISM jingle pre-empted their appearance and the crowd's deafening chant forced it. Without further ado, the lights sprung into action revealing a clan of hooded ninjas with big-arse foam head attachments. For the unfamiliar, confusion may set in right about now. One of TISM's gimmicks is their forever changing "kooky" costumes. But one thing is always for sure; face protection. I have read articles in the past that have tried to engage in some sort of psychoanalytical critique of TISM's propensity to cover their faces. Any theoretical discussion detracts from what it is - a show (and a good one at that). All seven members interact in a theatrical extravaganza that doesn't pretend to be highly organised or meticulously planned.

TISM's performance is a combination of music, theatre, poetry and dance. Based on a drum machine, their songs juxtapose from the melodic to the manic. All the 'well knowns' were played - Saturday Night Palsy, 40 Years Then Death, (I'm Interested In) Apathy, All Homeboys Are Dickheads and the list goes on.

Most of TISM's stuff tends to attack the depressive arty types, namely Jim Morrison, or individuals they percieve as being pretentious mediocrities - Brian Mannix is one of these people. These themes are passionately reflected in their lyrics. It's nothing new or ground breaking. Really, you can take it or leave it. I'm sure the intellectual element of the crowd, mostly pissed students standing up the back, pipe up when the band slags off the people they have to write essays about. The fanatics directly in front of stage respond to the rhetoric and get excited by some of the toilet humour - but at the end of the day, who gives a crap? I had a great night! The sounds delightfully fuse a pseudo techno/funk with juicy rock guitar grooves that just about blew my freak'n head off. I couldn't stand still even if I wanted to. It is pointless to resist the addictive transfer of energy from band members to on lookers. The vocal screams for an encore were desperate cries for more and we got it. Finishing up with Defecate On My Face was a brilliant close to a splendid set list.

This night TISM gave the Prince of Wales punters more than just music. It was a circus that entertained the eyes and the ears from go to whoa. One of the best gigs I've seen in a long time.


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