Max Watt’s might be more synonymous with electronic music but some of Melbourne’s finest punks took it over on Sunday for Melbourne Music Week 2021 with a ferocious night of live music; it was the type of show that made the absence of live music over the past two years all the more difficult to take. 

The CBD venue is the main hub for Melbourne Music Week 2021, as the city’s resilient musicians do their best to return the music industry to a semblance of normality. Max Watt’s has eight consecutive nights of local music and if last night’s offering is anything to go by, the following events will be worth checking out.

“I think we’ve got the best of Melbourne punk here tonight,” someone says on stage at one point and that’s probably not far from the truth.

Zig Zag are first up with the unenviable task of helming the third supporting slot but they handle it with aplomb. They play punk songs that are cathartic and triumphant. Their songs display an important sense of community, radiating with positivity; it’s difficult not to get sucked into their vibe and the audience appears to respond in kind.

It’s rare to see a second supporting act be as well-received as Delivery are but that probably has a lot to do with how infectious their songs are. Armed with a three-pronged lead attack, they interchange instruments and vocals at ease, mixing styles as they go.

Angular guitar lines battle with zig-zagging splashes of synths; their sound meets at a delightfully odd intersection of jagged post-punk and playful new wave. A saxophonist, Sam Lyons, even comes on for a few songs, following a very current trend that’s everywhere in post-punk right now.

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CLAMM is made up of only Jack Summers, Maisie Everett, and Miles Harding but, just like bands such as Royal Blood, Cable Ties, and Wax Chattels, having minimal members doesn’t correspond to a limited sound. CLAMM’s straight punk set is a thunderous thing, immediately overpowering the Max Watt’s space after the lighter fare that came before.

The muscular rhythm is the solid foundation over which Summers hurls his urgent and meaningful words at the audience: he’s a commanding presence throughout, his body barely moving, his eyes rarely averting their gaze, as he snarls lyrics about mental health and toxic masculinity. Their set overflows with incessant energy, with Harding’s drums being a constant earth-shattering battering ram underpinning it all.

Local punk favourites PINCH POINTS have supported the likes of Tropical Fuck Storm and Amyl and the Sniffers in the past but Sunday’s set showed that they’re perfectly suited to being the headliner. All four members sport their own band’s t-shirt – as if goading their audience to question the merits of this – but any doubts are quashed within the first few minutes.

This is punk at its thrilling best, unleashed at a blistering speed. PINCH POINTS are utterly unrelenting, their songs burning into each other. “I get anxious when I go outside / I get anxious when I go online,” Acacia Coates bellows in their new 7″ single ‘REASONS TO BE ANXIOUS’, and the intense ode to the exhausting malaise of the last few years feels just right for this occasion.

Having recently signed to Exploding in Sound in the U.S. and announced their new album is coming early next year, their performance last night was the best way to celebrate these things. A blast of the sort of old-school punk that PINCH POINTS effortlessly deliver never goes amiss.

Melbourne Music Week 2021 runs from now until Sunday, December 12th, with a few events left over for January and February 2022 as a little extra. Check out the full list of artists, the entire festival programme, and ticketing details here.

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