Early Punk Brisbands (1977-1982)

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Go Betweens
at Souths Leagues Club Never forget that in 1977 the political scene in Queensland was corrupt. This was long before the infamous 4 Corners "Moonlight State" expose and the Fitzgerald Enquiry.

There were many street marches in protest at the excess policies of the Bjelke-Petersen Queensland Government, including a ridiculous "ban on street marches".

There were lots of strikes. Electricity supplies were interupted during the SEQEB industrial dispute. There was even a beer strike!

The conservative Fraser/Howard Commonwealth Government of the time was also "on the nose" at the Universities and elsewhere. Unemployment was rising.

Many young people in Brisbane were full of dissent. The entertainment options weren't so good back then....

The Special Branch Police (disbanded by new Premier Wayne Goss in 1989) were especially "heavy" towards punky types or anyone else who looked a bit "different". They ended several performances, sometimes arriving with the dog squad.

Punk music fans were kept on the move as one venue closed after another.

Brisbane was in the midst of a building boom. Several of the older pub venues for music were facing demolition. Most publicans did not want trouble from punks. Dancing the Pogo shook the floors. A typical punk thing to do was flood a venue's toilets....

The Pits, This 5 Minutes, and Xero at 291 St Paul's Tce Political rallies in support of Birth Control, Prisoners Rights, Gay Rights, Peace, CANP, etc. provided alternative venues for many new musical groups. Much of the audience was too young for bars anyway.

The songs of punk bands from the UK and USA were very influential, and often covered on stage by local acts. The bands and audience often wore colourful hairstyles and clothes, as was the fashion in those days.

Some people got pretty out of it. Heckling from the crowd during a performance was common. One call was "Get a haircut!"

Radical radio station 4ZZZ FM, then based at the University of Queensland, was the only one in Brisbane playing punk music at that time, as the music was thought too subversive by the mainstream broadcasters.

Campaign Against Nuclear Power Dance, Caxton Street Hall 4ZZZ FM DJs Michael Finucane, Bill Riner, Tony Biggs, Andy Nehl, and others were influential in playing the new music.

Import record shops like Rotten Records, Skinny's, and Rocking Horse kept everyone up to date with the latest tunes from Australia, and around the world.

Some important overseas acts that toured Brisbane in these years were: Talking Heads, The Ramones, Blondie, Elvis Costello and The Attractions, XTC, The Clash, The Stranglers, The Dead Kennedys, The Fall, The Cure.

4ZZZ FM was also active in promoting local punk bands on air, and arranging live performances. The Demo Show broadcast cassette tape recordings by local groups each week.

Ursula, Larry, Shelly The annual 4ZZZFM Hot 100 chart featured many local acts voted by radio listeners as their favourites.

Lots of people formed bands and played at being "rock stars". Musical instruments, including 4-track tape machines were becoming reasonably affordable for some suburban youngsters. (Maybe some "borrowing" went on too.)

Plain paper photocopiers helped spawn a new range of home-made fanzines and handbills.

Posters for gigs designed by John Willsteed, Terry Murphy, and Peter Loveday showed advanced use of offset printing techniques.

For a while, it seemed like everyone I knew was involved with a band....

Favourite places to see bands were:
The Curry Shop, Queen's Hotel, Exchange Hotel, The Silver Dollar, Brisbane Hotel, New York Hotel, Atcherley Hotel, Orient Hotel, AHEPA Hall, CPA Hall, Caxton St Hall, Ukranian Hall, Cloudlands Ballroom, South's Leagues Club, East's Leagues Club, University of Queensland, Griffith University, and 4ZZZ Joint Efforts.

When I began this in 1997, absolutely none of this material was on the 'net. Maybe some things are best forgotten?

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Information provided by David Macpherson
Brisbane, Australia