Writing and Photography by Bobby Talamine
Edited by Fiza Javid
I was forewarned about this show in advance, from fellow rock n' roll photographers, fellow music writers, and from music hound friends who've seen them perform live over the past few years.
And before their show at the Logan Square Auditorium, in the midst of their current North American Tour, I did my own investigating of them performing live on various social media platforms, and other sources.
And yes- Amy Taylor is the definition of volatile, no matter if the show is indoors at an intimate venue, or outdoors at whichever festival, whether they're headlining, or whether they're opening, or lined up in the middle.
It just doesn't matter.
I could imagine this further, considering their set at Logan Square Auditorium was a setlist consisting of 20 songs bulldozed through, with no brakes, all songs incendiary, even with the attempt of a couple slower tunes (which for all intent and purposes were still full on Ramones style).
No breathers- just punishers.
My point is this- you're at a festival, in the middle of a band pow wow- your set is approximately 30 to 40 minutes in length.
Can only imagine that huddle- what to include songwise, what not to include.
I assume, by what I've witnessed prior to their show here in Chicago on a Saturday night, that the shorter the setlist, the more they feel they want to be remembered. Big wide grins throughout- smoking the audience and critics alike with bazooka songs like "Guided By Angels", and "I'm Not a Loser", into "Don't Need a Cunt (Like You to Love Me), and so on.
In the huddle, you are all in agreement that the next 30 to 40 minutes should be a bludgeoning.
And then off you go.
So yeah- a seasoned photographer like me, up in age, wonders what to expect in an older and rather charming and yet antiquated building such as the Logan Square Auditorium, with no pit barricade, audience up to the lip of the stage, plus Amy Taylor working the crowd into a nutty frenzy on a warm Saturday night in Chicago...better suck it up dude- and get to know your neighbors. Not that they would have your back or anything, but just have some sanity knowing in your little pocket of real estate for the show, that we will try to manage,
And by all means, it wasn't all that bad.
Yes- the show was barnstorm intensity throughout, with a mix of young and old in attendance, and most of the moshing and body surfing was female related believe it or not, including the stage diving.
And depending on the the song, even when standing still, you could feel yourself swaying a bit- up and down- left and right, from the floor beams below you holding forth from the rumble of the crowd.
So yes, it was that kind of exhilarating show, brought forth by a powerful front woman, who although dresses sexy, uses tight fashion, such as short shorts, and a crocheted crop top, more as a gymnast, than full on gratification. Her clothes choices strike me as body armor, knowing full well the sex appeal, and yet for concise physical movement, brought on by anger (name whichever tune), and bandmates that are protective- all of this adds up to unleashing of the hounds and work up a mighty sweat, 30 seconds into the first song selection called "Snakes". and just don't let up from there whatsoever.
And you have to have a tight rhythm section to sustain the freight train, that being steady bass provided by Gus Romer, and of course a consistent and heavy backbeat provided by Bryce Wilson.
The undercarriage in a band like Amyl & The Sniffers has to sustain low end / backbeat punishment, and has to be consistent.
Think about fellow Australians AC/DC for instance- that astounding band relies on the same- awesome drums / bass / rhythm guitar.
Angus dwells in over the top because of what backs him up.
And even though The Sniffers don't have (or need to have), or don't want a rhythm guitarist, they do just fine with lead from Dec Martens.
So most likely friendships and brotherhood and bonding first, followed by rock band, followed by fearlessness and brashness, and mistakes are ok- it's part of the game, part of the rough edged angst that we have to fight through.
And the development over the past few years- the payoff- a levitational blessing to witness live, and also to survive after the end.
Refreshing though and through.
And with Amy Taylor- this is a workout. There's lots to discuss. There's some disdain with the current state of affairs we as humans find ourselves in, and her observations are incendiary (obviously), and there's plenty of writing material to grow into that with this band.
So coming full circle- you need a reckoning to witness live, more often than not.
You need a rude / brash / riotous / working class roots band to come along more often than not to kick you in the nuts and wake you up.
Yes- to wake you up out of your mamby pamby doldrums- yell a little bit- pretend yet again that your a 23 year old trapped in a 65 year old body.
So yeah- Amy Taylor, Dec Martens, Gus Romer, Bryce Wilson of Amyl and the Sniffers- you're my heroes.
And no matter the occasion going forward, consider me a soldier- and I have your back.
Bobby Talamine - JBTV Music Television Chicago