Triple treat for rock fans at Gagarin club this Friday

The original plan for a triple-bill rock event at the Gagarin 205 club in Athens this Friday night included the Beasts of Bourbon, a long-running indie band from Sydney that was part of a fertile scene in the 80s for Australian acts, a number of which had impact abroad. The Beasts of Bourbon, however, withdrew after apparently losing the support of their label for a European tour. Even so, the one-day festival’s promoter has managed to maintain some of the evening’s character by filling the gap with another Australian band of the aforementioned era, the Saints, or, more accurately, Chris Bailey, the punk-era band’s frontman and sole original member still on board. Also on Friday’s bill are Gallon Drunk, back following several performances here in recent years, and the Thessaloniki trio Dread Astaire. Back in their heyday, in the mid-to-late 70s, the Saints stood as a force on the punk scene. Emerging from Brisbane, where conservative politics ruled and affluent retirees relocated for the magnificent weather, the Saints were a stark contrast. After gaining some momentum in Australia, the ambitious band quickly relocated to the UK, the focal point of the punk movement, and established itself as an integral part of the scene, internationally. Not long after, the Australian band’s success in the UK encouraged other aspiring compatriot acts to also try their luck in what was generally viewed, at the time, as a key location for the evolution of contemporary music. Fellow Brisbane act the Go-Betweens – now disbanded following last year’s death of co-founder Grant McLennan – and Melbourne’s Birthday Party, fronted by the then relatively unknown Nick Cave, were among the first Australian bands to follow in the path of the Saints and set up base in the UK. Stifled at home by a conservative-minded music industry and listening public, bands such as these felt the need to take their less orthodox sounds to more receptive places. For a band hailing from a distant land whose rock music circuit had little if any tradition of acceptance abroad, the Saints achieved plenty. Signed by EMI, the Brisbane band released three albums on the label. The affiliation, somewhat strained by the Australian act’s refusal to accept demands by the label for the adoption of a typical punk image – torn clothes and mohawks – produced three albums, ending with 1978’s «Prehistoric Sounds,» a release that fused punk aggression with jazzy overtones. Ed Kuepper, Bailey’s songwriting partner in the Saints, departed a year later after band politics split the two apart and swiftly began spearheading his own projects, beginning with the Laughing Clowns, an act with which he continued to develop the punk-jazz vein of «Prehistoric Sounds.» Following several Laughing Clowns albums, Kuepper started what has proved to be a very prolific solo career. Along the way, he has also released work as the Aints, a tongue-in-cheek response to Bailey’s insistence on preserving their old band’s name with the help of a parade of musicians over the years. For his current version of the Saints, Bailey is backed by Caspar Winjberg on bass and Peter Wilkinson on drums. Gallon Drunk, Friday’s other main act, were formed in London in 1990 with James Johnston as frontman. After launching recording activity with two highly charged albums, both released in 1992, the band’s next effort, 1993’s «From the Heart of Town,» was nominated for the Mercury Prize, the prestigious UK music award. A year later, Johnston was recruited by Nick Cave as a temporary replacement for guitarist Blixa Bargeld, who was unable to go on a tour with the Bad Seeds, Cave’s backing band. Johnston became a regular member of the celebrated act in 2003, after Bargeld, also a member of the German act Einsturzende Neubauten, withdrew from the Bad Seeds following an association with Cave that began the mid-80s. Following a number of older shows with Gallon Drunk, Johnston has also performed here with Cave’s Bad Seeds, as well as Mick Harvey, Cave’s lifelong music partner who played as a solo act last winter. The London band, which had provided the soundtrack for «Black Milk,» a film by Greek director Nikos Triandafyllidis released in 1999, is currently finishing recording a new album titled «The Rotten Mile.» The evening’s Greek band, Dread Astaire, a regular performer on the domestic scene over the past year or so, have so far put out two vinyl single releases on their own label, Fuzzie. Friday, Gagarin, 205 Liosion (close to Attiki train and metro station), 25 euros. Doors open at 9 p.m.

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Enter your information below to receive our weekly newsletters with the latest insights, opinion pieces and current events straight to your inbox.

By signing up you are agreeing to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.