The Odd Couples: Support Acts We'll Never Forget
Do you get to gigs early to catch support bands? Many of us talk through them or duck outside for a cigarette when they’re on. It’s harsh, but true. But every so often a gig opener is burnt into our collective memory - those that outshine the headliner or simply demand our attention. Just last week the Kills opened for Metallica in France. Sure, they were flipped the bird by 75,000 metalheads for most of the set, but the point is that they made an impression. They got fans talking, whether they loved or loathed them.
The Kills’ courageous baptism by fire got us thinking about some of the most memorable support slots we’ve seen. Whether it was an unlikely mix of styles or onstage shenanigans, we won’t be forgetting these performances anytime soon.
Har Mar Superstar supporting Red Hot Chili Peppers
Speak to anyone who saw the Chili Peppers when they toured Australia in 2007, and they’ll tell you how an unlikely extrovert almost stole the show. Looking like a mix between porn star Ron Jeremy and Danni Devito circa Twins, a relatively unknown Har Mar Superstar exposed more than just his song writing finesse with a warm up set that was half strip tease, half tongue-in-cheek cabaret. Some hurled abuse while others cheered as the flamboyant front man pranced around stage in only his undies, backed by the Strokes drummer Fabrizio Moretti and ex-Distillers bassist Tony Bevilacqua. While he split the crowd right down the middle with a truly polarising performance, one thing’s for sure: everyone remembers Har Mar Superstar.
Mariachi El Bronx supporting the Bronx
The Bronx are a bit like Superman. Okay, we don’t mean they have superpowers or that Kryptonite will knock them on their ass, but they do have a not-so-secret alter ego, Mariachi El Bronx. Like Clark Kent ducking into a phone booth and emerging as a world beating superhero, the Bronx have a reputation for opening shows in mariachi mode and closing them in chaotic punk rock style. That’s right: they are their own support act. Their Mexican alter ego ain’t a joke either – they toured as part of the Big Day Out this year and have released two albums in mariachi style. Who would have thought hardcore punks would trade in circle pits for trumpets and flutes?
Neil Hamburger supporting Faith No More
Q: How do you piss off thousands of Faith No More fans?
A: You call in Neil Hamburger
While a generic hard rock opener would have been the obvious choice, Faith No More enlisted the comb-over sporting, tux wearing comedian to
infuriate everyone open for them on their 2010 Australian tour. Armed with only a mic and some devilishly taboo jokes aimed at everything from the 9/11 terrorist attacks to Michael Jackson, Hamburger’s punch lines were like little firecrackers stuck up the backside of the crowd. He may have received some fierce heckling, but Neil was the talk of the night for many fans afterwards, ultimately giving him the last laugh.
Teenage Mothers supporting M83
Everyone gets their kicks in different ways. Some people dress up like animals and have sex. It might sound weird, but who are we to judge? Whatever floats your boat. Teenage Mothers singer James ‘JK’ Kennedy inhales nitrous oxide from soda bulbs. Unfortunately for him, his habit didn’t sit well with M83’s Anthony Gonzalez when Teenage Mothers were supporting the French electro outfit at Melbourne’s Prince Bandroom in Feb (especially when JK demonstrated his affection for the little bulbs while onstage). Gonzalez labelled JK a ‘junkie’, kicked the band off the remainder of the tour and a war of words ensued.
Let it be a lesson to all support bands: leave getting high until after the show.
Kanye West supporting U2
Before we learned to associate the phrase “Imma Let You Finish” with attention-seeking outbursts, we were watching Kanye West open for seminal Irish rockers U2 on their 2006 Vertigo Australian tour. These days there’s probably not a stadium big enough to squeeze in both Yeezy and Bono’s egos, but back then the combination of the two was a sight for sore eyes.
Fergie supporting the Police
When the Police visited Australia on their 30th anniversary reunion tour in 2008, some fans expected a nostalgia act from the same era to open the shows. However, somewhat surprisingly, the honours were handed to the Black Eyed Peas’ Fergie. But how would the duchess’ modern day hip hop and pop go down with fans of the Police’s classic rock? Well, pretty damn good as it turns out. Sting and the boys even invited her onstage in Adelaide and Perth for a rendition of ‘Don’t Stand So Close to Me’.
Fucked Up supporting Foo Fighters
After early rumours that the Black Keys would support Foo Fighters on their last Australian visit, fans were left scratching their heads when Canadian punks Fucked Up (or ‘Effed Up’ as your parents would prefer) assaulted their ears instead. Songs from their mammoth David Comes to Life album may have gone over the heads of many, but we’re sure they also scooped up some new fans thanks to front man Damian Abraham’s shirtless antics and disregard for caving into the conventional lead singer mould.
Rolo Tomassi supporting Jane’s Addiction
A lot of the time a headliner won’t have any say over their support band, with the decision coming down to a local promoter or record label attempting to spruik their latest signing on an unsuspecting crowd. This was certainly the case when mathcore lunatics Rolo Tomassi were paired up with Jane’s Addiction at the Palace in Melbourne in 2010. They may have been on the same Soundwave lineup, but that’s where the similarities ended for this absurdly mismatched duo.
WORDS: Jack Pilven