The Stems – Factory Theatre

Tonight was a night of sixties infused fuzz, garage, poppy, psych at the Factory Theatre with The Stems celebrating 30 years since the release of their album At First Sight, supported by Rocket Science and Grinding Eyes.

Rocket Science

Rocket science tentatively sauntered onto the stage, but then burst straight into their 60’s psych rock at a volume that was enough to separate the ears from your head.


Its been a while since these guys have strutted the Sydney stages & it felt a little awkward at first, with a couple of technical hitches and broken guitar string putting a call out to the stable of guitarists backstage for a bit of assistance.

Before long it was all back into the swing of the keyboard driven in your face psych sounds, with Roman Tucker crawling over the keyboards like a mad scientist at a control desk and then locking himself in a tremendous duel with a theremin, projecting the power of his mind for it to do his bidding.

When he wasn’t behind the keyboard, Roman flew around the stage, dancing with arms flailing, looking like a coked up 70’s era Rob Younger.


By the end of the set they had suitably warmed themselves up and the crowd with them. They finished the set strongly with a cracking version of Burn in Hell; leaving ears ringing and burning in their own hell.

Despite the volume and diving notes, the Brown Note was definitely missing even though there were plenty of opportunities.

The Stems

The Stems strode onto the stage, owning it with the confidence from taking the show on tour around Australia. They immediately opened up with the title track of their 30 year old album “At First Site” with a big crowd response. They then proceeded to play the album, in the words of Dom Mariani, from start to finish, in order, including the spaces in between the songs.

An extended lineup tonight featuring original members, as well as the guitars of Ash Naylor (Even) who recently joined the band and Davey Lane (You Am I) who also covered off keyboard duties. With these two on stage it looked like a coming together of the vintage Rickenbacker appreciation society, with one classic guitar coming out after another. Davey Lane was at his best You Am I swagger, decked out in his finest sartorial splendour and windmill arms power chords. A total of three guitars banging away, all taking turns and like true pros, not getting in each others way, but all sharing the limelight.


It felt a little like a family reunion in the crowd, singing along with each song, which were all executed without a hitch. The show wound up with a closing rendition of At First Sight, committing that mortal live gig sin of never repeating a song in the one set, but I don’t think anyone cared.

No Brown Notes heard here, but thanks to either lots of pre-show curry or faulty electrical equipment, I could sure smell it at the end of the gig.

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