Negative Waves: The best of Victoria’s alt-rock scene sizzled the Barwon Club with a raucous one-day event 

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Negative Waves: The best of Victoria’s alt-rock scene sizzled the Barwon Club with a raucous one-day event 

Photo by @b__bookings
Words by Alex Callan

Negative Waves returned to the Barwon Club on June 25 for an epic night of rock, reminiscing and drinking.

Since 2017, I have proudly stated that The Peep Temple’s set at the Negative Waves was ‘the best set I’ve ever seen at The BC.’ In fact, it’s a statement that I stood by so firmly that in my review of The Bronx in 2018, I reaffirmed that it was a set that just couldn’t be beaten. After this past Saturday, I’m not sure it’s a statement that I can stand by as firmly.


Because almost every set that I caught at this year’s edition of Negative Waves could equally be a contender deserving of that title.

Stay up to date with what’s happening in and around the region here

Unfortunately, obligations (Cats vs Tigers) forced me to get there a little bit late, but after seeing videos of Private Functions blistering set, that’s a mistake that I will forever regret.

I did however make it for the start of Electric Purrs, whose ferocious breed of punk rock was incredibly impressive live. Bringing in the early evening, the Melbourne-based up-and-comers tore the roof off with their 90’s inspired blend of punk. With songs like ‘Fuck You’ channelling the vibrant upbeat energy of acts such as The’s and the grimey bass lines and bratty vocal cadence of Black River Road mirroring the likes of Babes in Toyland, Electric Purrs definitely proved that they are an act worth keeping an eye out for.

I first encountered the Stiff Richards at River Rocks a few years back and since then it’s been hard to disregard the almost cult-like following the group has established. They don’t necessarily get a heap of radio play and don’t seem to pop up on the festival circuit that much, but whenever the Stiff Richards hit the stage, the energy created by the audience is immeasurable.

In fact, it can be matched, but only by the group’s vocalist Wolfgang Buckley, who surprisingly donned the stage in a t-shirt, a move which was questioned by the bloke next to me only for his mate to comment, “nah just wait, he’ll get rig out.” He was right. Within a couple of songs Buckley was shirtless, screaming at the crowd with the energy of a restrained dog.

To match, the crowd was intense, with punters screaming the lyrics at the top of their lungs and crowd surfers going absolutely haywire. With songs like ‘State of Mind’, ‘Going Numb’ and ‘Dig’ being clear crowd favourites, it seemed incredibly prevalent how important the Stiff Richards are to the Melbourne punk community. If that maintains, they won’t be regarded as an ‘underground’ group for much longer.


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The Cosmic Psychos are one of the few bands in Australia that have earnt a permanent stamp of approval from punters. While most groups who have been on the touring circuit for three decades have begun to lose appeal due to setlists of recycled material, the Psycho’s never have. Instead, their tried and true formula of Aussie inspired pub rock has remained equally as relevant and beloved as it always has been. I mean, what’s not to love about a group of earnest Aussie blokes playing witty punk songs about going to the pub? Pub and Nice Day To Go To The Pub both made early additions, getting the crowd incredibly revved up. When ‘Fuckwit City’ made an appearance, the singalongs couldn’t have been louder.

By the time Melbourne punk stalwarts Civic hit the stage, you would have thought the predominantly older crowd would have been a bit gassed. That presumption would have been wrong.

Picking up exactly where Stiff Richards left off, Civic absolutely destroyed the barn stage. Having first hit the scene big with their 2018 EP New Vietnam, the group initially made their mark as an act that embraced everything of the 1980’s hardcore ethos. Their 2021 debut full-length Future Forecast saw the group re-routing to a slightly more accessible Radio Birdman style of punk rock. Although, whilst it may have shown more of a melodic sound for the group, it absolutely did not alter their stage presence, with newer songs like Radiant Eye and Shake Like Death packing as much of a punch live as older favourites like New Vietnam.

With Jim McCullough proving to be one of the most impressive on stage punk vocalists around, Civic’s set didn’t just feel like a homage to the 80’s hardcore sound, instead it’s delivery made it seem as authentic as any of the footage from when the sound was first emerging. Feeling like history in the making, their set was one that’ll be spoken about in beer gardens and smokers areas for years to come.

When it comes to showcasing the best up and coming talent that Victoria’s alternative rock scene has to offer in one day events, The Barwon Club have it downpat. 

As expected, Negative Waves was no exception to this statement, with its 2022 edition being one of the most impressive yet. 

Event photography to come.