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Gig Review: Bluejuice And Philadelphia Grand Jury @ The Eureka Hotel, 21st January

On Friday night both Bluejuice and Philadelphia Grand Jury absolutely demolished the Eureka Hotel as a part of their ‘Sizzling 2011’ tour. The night featured the best sets I have heard from each band respectively, which combined with some awesome mid-set music provided by Purple Sneakers DJs to create an amazing party atmosphere and an almost absurd amount of fun for one gig.

I made the pilgrimage from Melbourne with a few mates, staying at a rather dodgy motel in order to catch a leg of the ‘Sizzling 2011’ tour, which isn’t stopping at major cities. Therefore this was my first time at The Eureka Hotel, and I was extremely impressed with it as a venue. The acoustics were great, the crowd was right in front of the stage, the lighting was spectacular for a smaller venue, and there was a much bigger and better bar area than is seen at many comparable Melbourne venues.

We arrived just as The Philly Jays were about to take the stage, and were able to comfortably secure spots in the first couple of rows. This would be my first time seeing Philadelphia Grand Jury with their new drummer, Susie, and I was slightly worried about how the band would cope with the loss of the one and only Calvin.

Thankfully, I needn’t have been worried. All things considered, Susie is probably a better fit for the band, and she helped The Philly Jays put on the best set I’ve ever witnessed from them.

They had such a full sound this night, and put on a performance that saw the crowd grow exponentially as they played. Ready To Roll got the party started, as Berkfinger and MC Bad Genius absolutely owned the front of the stage, as they tend to do, and Susie demanded equal attention on the drums.

Going To The Casino (Tomorrow Night) and I’m Going To Kill You gave the band a chance to show off their grunge side, as Berkfinger took the opportunity to jump into the crowd and cause general chaos, all the while not missing a beat.

New single Save Our Town went over extremely well with the crowd, who was absolutely awesome. The quality of a Philly Jays performance relies heavily on the enthusiasm of a crowd; the audience’s willingness to get involved with all the craziness that the band brings to their live show, and in this case the crowd was more than happy to match the band’s insanity and energy levels.

The mid-set banter was pre-recorded, as is typical with Philly Jays shows, however at times it was almost impossible to make out what was being said, which is really my only complaint of the show.

The highlight of the set came for me with The Good News. As soon as he started the song, Berkfinger jumped once again into the crowd, only this time he was literally right in front of me, standing in a circle of people comprising mostly of my mates and I. It was simply awesome, jumping up and down, our arms around Berkfinger, as we sung along into the mic and the room at large, loving every single second of the song.

I Don’t Want To Party (Party) was exactly the opposite of what the crowd was clearly feeling, however it was still a lot of fun. The band finished their set with the customary cover of Jay-Z’s 99 Problems, only sung this time by Susie. She did a spectacular job, making an already great cover even better. She walked and ran amongst the crowd, parting the way as she went and simply belting out the lyrics along with hundreds of loud voices. The song ended with Susie standing atop either the bar or some form of scaffolding at the far side of the room, mic proudly in hand.

And that image kind of sums up the set as a whole. It really was a spectacular performance, and by the looks of things this is a band that is going from strength to strength. The Philly Jays brought the party, and the crowd was more than willing to partake. The night was off to a great start indeed.

In between sets Purple Sneakers DJs were tasked with keeping the crowd warmed up, and they did a wonderful job, playing some great tracks, with my favourite moment probably being El Guincho’s Bombay. The crowd was really getting into the music, and the mass of people around the stage grew larger and larger as the arrival of Bluejuice approached, to the point where the venue was just about packed.

The stage was adorned with a similar glow-in-the-dark rig as Bluejuice set up at Splendour, and while it was certainly not as intricate as it was then, it still looked very cool and only served to increase the atmosphere of anticipation further.

Right on cue, the music died down and Bluejuice, adorned with glow in the dark warpaint, appeared on stage to deafening applause and screaming. The guys proceeded to reel off a powerful and frantic set that saw the crowd go absolutely nuts like few other Aussie band gigs I have been to.

To be honest their songs kind of blurred together, but that certainly isn’t a criticism. There was great continuity between tracks, with banter kept at a minimum and partying at a maximum. The whole show was one crazy mosh, with the front of the crowd in particular going mental.

This being said, there were of course some tracks that stood out. Miss Johnston was played fairly early, and the crowd simply loved it, screaming along to every single word whilst jumping up and down as high as we possibly could.

Little Emperor comes to life when played live, and was one of the many highlights of the set, as was of course the frantic Facelift. The stage presence of Bluejuice is undeniable- Jake and Stav prowled around the stage, giving equal attention to all parts of the venue and making sure everyone was having a great time, as well as wasting no opportunity to get out amongst the crowd.

While banter was certainly sparse, it seemed that the band were appreciative of the enthusiasm of the crowd, even if they must be used to it by now. Head Of The Hawk was massive, and Broken Leg was fantastic, but the highlight of the set for me was, predictably, Vitriol.

“GOOD LUCK AND DON’T DARE GIVE UP, GIVE IT A LITTLE BIT OF VITRIOL!”.

It is such a superb live song, and that opening riff blew the roof off the Eureka Hotel as the mosh lifted to a whole new level and the crowd almost drowned out the band with emphatic singing. It was so very fun, and was worth the trip from Melbourne in itself.

The band departed the stage temporarily, returning to play a song I didn’t recognise, followed by a wonderful closer in Medication, whose name a few people (including myself) had been chanting loudly during the encore break. Somehow the crowd found another reserve of energy, and the set ended with yet another intensely fun mosh.

It really was an awesome set. I struggle to think of any other Australian band that can put on a party like Bluejuice.

Purple Sneakers DJs continued to provide house music for a while after Bluejuice had departed (much more naked than when they entered), and while the crowd certainly thinned out it seemed that most people at the venue were content to dance as much of the early morning away as possible, and that’s exactly what we did.

I cannot overstate just how much fun I had at this show. The venue was awesome, the crowd was wonderful, the drinks were flowing, and the music was provided by two Australian bands in their prime who both know how to put on incredible, unique, intense, and highly enjoyable live shows.

While the contrast between the two acts was stark, they somehow complimented one another very nicely, almost feeding off the craziness of each other- I can imagine that both bands are constantly trying to outdo one another with insane crowd interaction this tour.

I had a fantastic experience at Sizzling 2011 that more than justified the short trip to Geelong. Bluejuice and The Philly Jays reigned supreme at The Eureka Hotel, and an accordingly great night was had by all.

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