UTS April 2013 (Sydney, NSW)

12 April 2013 at Glasshouse Bar

I have heard people say that if the last rehearsal before the actual show is shit, then the show itself will be good. In our case, we rehearsed for about two hours just two days before the show and this was the first time in over a month that we have played together. It did not go as well as one would hope. In summary: heaps of mistakes, forgetting riffs, forgetting lyrics, getting a blister on my finger, and not having enough stamina to even play our 45 minute set twice through. Needless to say, even if the 'shit rehearsal means a good show' prediction is right, I did not feel too confident coming in on Friday night.

On the other hand, everything was set up for a good night of heavy metal. Organisers were offering some free beer for everyone and the line-up was a mixed bag of goodies with Fatigue playing black metal, Dead Life – the Pantera of the western suburbs – bringing in their groovy death metal, us (Head in a Jar) with our comedy-thrash, and finally Fenrir with their folkish battle metal. On top of this, the venue, The Glasshouse, was conveniently located almost in the heart of Sydney, so that I could actually catch a train with my bass and Gordy did not need to come to pick me up.

As we were the second last band to play there were about two hours to kill with the usual time-killing tricks – sipping beer and watching other bands play. My personal preference is about two or three beers before a show. Less than that is alright, more than that is risky. With free beer on offer, the risk for drinking too much was quite high but, perhaps luckily, I had been under the weather for a while and thus after two beers I was feeling actually really bad and it was time to change to pain killers and water.

The set up was as usual – three mics, two guitars on sides, bass in the middle, and drums at the back. This time we cunningly put the bass amp slightly behind the drums and facing a bit towards Adam, the drum-master, so that he could actually hear what the rest of the band, or at least I, was doing. While doing the set up I also slipped into my trustworthy multi-purpose shorts that I use only while playing and swimming. To my horror I realized that with all the other hassle going on, I had forgotten to get any drinks for myself onto the stage. Thanks to Gordy's girlfriend for actually taking my money and lining up at the bar instead of me. Two beers and a cider for 45 minutes. One would think that that's enough. After a short line check – oh, how I miss the proper sound checks from back in Finland – it was time to get on with it.

Starting with 'Double Suicide' and continuing straight into 'Judge Mental', the feeling was great from the beginning. What I could see from my own moshing, the audience was into it and there was enough of them to make us feel almost popular. At some point we did a little on-stage mosh pit with Gordy which basically just means bumping into each other while playing. The aftermath of that being that I accidentally almost tripped him onto my stash of drinks. Somewhat luckily G-force did not end up face down on beer and only one schooner was toppled. A bit too close for comfort for both Gordy and my drinks.

Next, something we had never done. That is, audience participation in the form of bringing two guys from the crowd onto the stage to play along with us on cardboard guitars. The winner would get a beer. Well, in principle this worked as planned, the end result being more spilled beer on the stage with some sweaty guys and pieces of broken cardboard guitars.

After one more song it was time for another special treat for the audience – the 'sliming'. As a cheap copy of Fenrir's blood painting habits, we had decided to smear ourselves during the gig with some green nuclear waste slime. Again, a brilliant idea, at least in principle. The slime was made in Gordy's secret laboratory from some sort of mixture of syrup and other dubious ingredients. This meant that our bodies, hands, and guitars necks got so sticky that playing became considerably harder. But hey, sometimes you just have to sacrifice the so-called tightness for the sake of entertainment.

After the 'sliming' we finished with Three Kings, Eternal Hangover, Odyssey of the Damned, and finally, the audience's choice, Head in a Jar. The only thing I really have to sing is a verse in Three Kings but for some reason I seem to be unable to remember the lyrics. And yes, I have written them myself. This I was prepared though and I had printed the words out to help me remember them. However, at the point when I was supposed to sing, the sheet of paper was already in pieces under spilled beer and green slime. No help there then. Maybe I should just learn the words. Not that anyone really cares if I forget some lines.

During the last song Adam broke his snare – first time this has happened live to any of the bands I've ever played in – and Nick's guitar started to be noticeably out of tune. Luckily it was the solutions were clear: Just play toms instead of snare and just do not care about tuning.

In the end we, and I think I can speak for all the members, were sweaty, slimy, and half-deaf, but pleased. This really is what Head in a Jar is about. Reckless fun and hopefully an entertaining show with some thrashy tunes that were this time, despite my initial worries, played as well as we have ever played. What really made the experience was that the audience seemed to enjoy our antics too and mosh along with the whole set. Better than sex I would say. Or maybe better than bad sex. Or at least better than sex with yourself. Overall, from bassists' perspective, I rate the UTS Headbangers Society experience with four and a half radiation symbols out of five.

Honourable mention: We didn't have anything that we could apply the sticky slime with and thus I stopped on my way to the gig at a sushi stall to buy some plastic gloves. The sushi lady took me for a total weirdo and gave me the gloves for free. One of the other customers told me that it was 'an unusual request'. I agreed.

Honourable mention 2: In honour of Fenrir's flute-playing frontman and following Metallica's 'metal up your ass'design, we played the show in custom shirts that said 'flute up your ass'.

Line-up: Fatigue, Dead Life, Head In A Jar, Fenrir

Reviewer: Onni