Jizzfest 2020: A Footscray House Party Fighting Fires With Punk
In the wake of The Reverence closing in 2019, coupled with the unofficial hiatus of King Gizzard’s very own Gizzfest, the West-side of Melbourne has been left pining for a punk-rock festival platform. Whilst venues like the Night Heron and Pride of Our Footscray have stepped up to fill the venue void, day festivals of relentless back-to-back bands ala Holler Fest have been meaningfully missed from Footscray’s music scene.
Born from this period of abstinence comes the aptly titled Jizzfest. Made possible through the initiative of Brodie Kershaw, Chloe Worley, Alex Radovan, Audrey Dalton-Power, Stuart Clarke and Ashland GC (Whitehall Productions), the hosts opened up their home to a day where local musicians and artists came together to raise proceeds for the NSW Rural Fire Service and Seed, an indigenous youth climate network, in the face of the recent bushfire crisis. Whilst driven by this cause of goodwill, Jizzfest managed to reinvigorate Footscray’s punk scene in the process through its communal celebration of music and art concentrated into one killer house party.
Located a mere can kick from the currently vacated Rev,Jizzfest seemed to draw from Footscray’s spiritual home of music for the day. Though police made an early appearance as young bloods Lazerlips stepped onstage to open the day, they failed to impede the trio from hurling headlong into their set of up-tempo garage-punk. While front man Luke Pender joked theirs would be “both the first and last set of the day”, there wasn’t a hint of hesitation with the way bassist Will Pain ventured into the crowd to play or how drummer Noah Nicholls thrashed the kit with the reckless abandon of Animal from The Muppets. Grace Cecilia then stepped up to round out My Safe Word Is Murder and close things by performing their latest single.
A surprise addition organised the night before, Billiam of Disco Junk nailed an enthralling solo set second up. A beautifully haphazard kaleidoscope of short-fire synth and guitar punk gems was made all the more entertaining for his idiosyncratic presence on stage as he informed the sound techs to start and stop each backing track. Ranging from of odes to the Easter Bunny written on Christmas Day to the closing cover of Credence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Run Through the Jungle’, Billiam’s set was as seamlessly diverse as it was elevating.
The final set ever from 60s psych-prog foursome Bêng offered up another special treat with the band effortlessly managing to transport everyone into another dimension. High-pitched electric slide and synth from Budd offered eccentric melodies that cut through the daydream-inducing jams as bassist Armando’s sleek fingerpicking added hooks of his own. Showing just what Melbourne will deaerly miss, it was an enthralling final performance that did the project every possible justice.
Tall Relatives kicked off to a swirling mosh pit. Completing the entire set in amongst the punters, front man Dan Blitzman evoked an insurmountable energy that blended with the breakneck riffs and pounding rhythms of the band behind him. Like a bouncer in reverse, he stalked the outskirts of the mosh rounding up punters and herding them into the pit for a set best experienced with someone’s VB splashed through your hair and sweat stinging your eyes. Special mentions go to guitarist Daniel Shaw for playing half the set devoid of glasses before announcing he couldn’t “see a thing” and the crowd’s chants of “fuck Scomo”.
Rapid transitions between bands saw The Calibans follow closely, another highlight what with the bands limited run of live sets over their approx. 2 years together. Their razor-sharp brand of indie rock lifted the corrugated roof off the car port as Alex Cooper’s vocals soared well beyond the realm of the back yard. Another bouncy pit made for a fun-filled set underscored by the crowd screaming back the lyrics to ‘Chances’ when it was unleashed.
As night fell, The Bad Bad Randy’s stepped onstage and delivered a frenetic, fast-paced serve of punk illuminated to the tune of strobe lights. The pit was pounding when bassist Randy Goodall offloaded his shirt and got amongst the riff raff. A testament to the efforts of Chloe Worley and Griffen Attridge with the sound being as potent as any fully equipped venue. The makeshift gear married with the raw nature of the music to authenticate the experience better than any other set-up could.
Three re-draws of the raffle amounting to nobody claiming the coveted plush Koala garnered the first hiccup of the night before local headliners Rhysics closed things out. With Rhys Renwick playing a rare home-suburb show, the band were tight having come off a set at The B East the night before. The pit being well and truly warm was hereby inspired to even greater, wholesome highs with Renwick’s characteristic indie pop-rock. Smiles were everywhere within the mess of punters being pushed, pulled or dangling from the rafters like a koala. A cover of Bones from The Killers was as much a surprise as it was a catharsis to jump to. Renwick purveyed a nonchalant nature with the crowd in the palm of his hand, evidence of the prowess of a Melbourne musician who’s traversed the scene since 2015.
As people strayed away or lingered around after, it was fitting that everyone did so with reparative drops of rain beginning to patter. Whilst the music was a major drawcard, the event itself was underscored by its approachable house party aesthetic, something no amount of gear, finances or planning can replicate. Its DIY, community culture was underpinned by great people that exhibited art, cooked the sausage sizzle, instinctively cleaned a wine-stained shirt with Napi-San in the sink, chucked up into a box of wine, started plans to form bands with strangers and assisted Luke in finding his wallet underneath a guitar bag after he moshed too hard. Capped off by the fact the festival raised 2,500 dollars for bushfire relief,Jizzfest should be seriously commended for not only filling a void but creating its own space by which to enjoy art and help those in need.