Sometimes a long slow boil is better than a rapid zip boil. This could also be said about recognition for your music. Slow growing fan bases and media attention can be useful when you have already produced two stellar albums and the heavy weights of the Australian music scene suddenly go wild for your third.
This is the story for Melbourne-based group, The Peep Tempel. It is a story that has evolved and culminated in the band launching Joy, their feisty third album that was released in October 2016, at shows in Adelaide, the Gold Coast, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. As a long term Peep Tempel devotee (since around 2012) I was front and centre at their final show of the year and tour-ending Oxford Art Factory gig. After traipsing along to 99 per cent of their Sydney gigs (and also one in Melbourne) at various smaller venues, it wasn’t lost on me (or The Peep Tempel) that yes, they had reached a milestone.
The night was eased into by an all-male young four piece band hailing from Wollongong, Solid Effort. They played about seven songs in the leisurely punk style, marked by discordant syncopation. The band plays fast, chaotic exciting music with an upbeat sound and deep overarching vocals. They also mixed it up a bit with a 1950s surfer rock tune, portraying a fun, amiable party vibe.
The show then moved from leisure punk to surfer punk pop with Sydney gig staple, Bloods. Solid Effort's bassist joined the band's rhythm section. The addition of a fourth band member was seamless; it was like he had always been there. As always Bloods delivered their high energy surfer punk and lovely harmonies with happy abandon. The band's sense of fun has been joined by a maturity I had not witnessed when some time back it seemed I saw them play everywhere I went. To say I was impressed with their growth is an understatement. I really felt I was seeing a band that had learned to develop into something more substantial while still racing through their set with a huge dose of valley girl vibes, frenetic energy and fun (especially with their interactions with the crowd).
If you know anything at all about The Peep Tempel you would be aware that they are masters of the dramatic long intro, with growling rumbling riffs. It was no different tonight as they built up to, ever so slowly with extensive raw musical flourishes, the opening lyrics of the gritty "Kalgoorlie." It is this track along with the cheeky political commentary found in “Rayguns” and “Totality” that has spurred on the high praise and applause for Joy. Kalgoorlie was a smart choice to open with. It has many of The Peep Tempel trademark nuances –an intro of steady drum beats matched to long hurtling raw deep dark guitar work that builds and builds to a mash up of chaotic drama and punchy lyrics.
It might be safe to say that the promise of seeing songs off Joy performed live was the drawcard for many in attendance at the gig. Others were no doubt there due to the break-through single “Carol” and the other big hit “Big Fish” off their second album, Tales that helped them to get into the hearts of the punters and to snag a spot playing at Meredith in 2015. I was hoping to hear all of those songs as well as my favourites off their self-titled debut album and their EP “Modern Professional” – songs like “Mister Lester Moore”, “Lance” and “Dark Beach”. I was definitely not disappointed. A good smattering of tracks from the band’s repertoire were included in the extended set. Lead singer Blake Scott let loose towards the end of the night throwing in one more song after another giving his all to end the long hard year with an extra amount of raw performance effort.
At all times Blake had a commanding stance. His presence was controlled, charismatic and charming. Stewart Rayner, the band’s bass player, went with a similar line – letting us all know without any doubt who the boss of bass playing is. At times Blake zoned out into a trance of concentration and connectivity with the songs and the moment. It was fascinating to watch, the deeper he went the more passionate he became with his playing – he became one with the music and his guitar to give a 100 per cent authentic, organic performance.
Like the trooper he is, Steven Carter provided the backbone beat that rings out strong and true for every Peep Tempel tune. It was not uncommon to see Steve going hell for leather, arms flailing with powerful strokes as he belted out those drum beats. The band of three worked together effortlessly, their tight bond shaping the way they play and how the songs sound. They are a truly well-oiled machine but overcome any chance of being a boring act to watch.
The crowd was pumped. They didn’t need much encouragement to unleash their enthusiasm like a spring coil as they turned into a heaving mass of bodies, shouting out the iconic choruses of “Carol” and “Big Fish” and losing themselves in the splendour of The Peep Tempel performing at full bore. They threw themselves into the hurtling frenzied cacophony of sound that The Peep Tempel are expert at building up to. By the time "Big Fish" was played (fourth song in) they had been well and truly warmed up. There was no holding back with the chorus singing, and so the gig rolled on in the same vein. Each tune was stepped up a fraction as the punters grew wilder.
The band returned for an encoure of about four or five songs, Blake throwing himself more and more into each song. Stewie at one point went right off with a high kick; I was later told that this was the indication of a good jam. And so then it was finally all over, the relief and sense of achievement was all over the guys’ faces. They had completed a gruelling year of recording Joy, touring it around the country and clocking up some massive critical acclaim along the way. Once again, The Peep Tempel had given the fans what they wanted – a gig full of top songs and performances coming straight from the heart. Nobody left disappointed. You could almost feel the high spirits that filled the room and spilled out onto Oxford Street as we left. Yes, we were all proud to be card carrying members of The Peep Tempel cult. Long live The Peep Tempel.