Before COVID, before the Adelaide Entertainment Centre, before grunge, the place for live music in Adelaide was the expansive Bridgeway Hotel concert room hidden at the back of the sprawling establishment, situated just north of Grand Junction Road.
In the '80s, the room hosted Aussie pub rock royalty including AC/DC, Midnight Oil, and Cold Chisel, with the latter rising from the neighbouring suburb of Elizabeth.
On a muggy Friday night (19 February), with the support of Coopers Brewery and Live Nation, the Bridgeway burst back into contemporary music relevance, with Adelaide's pub-rock revivalists Bad//Dreems and Mount Gambier pop-punks Chelsea Manor blasting the cover-band posters from the walls of the venue with their blistering sets respectively.
October 2019, when Bad//Dreem's 'Doomsday Ballet' third studio album dropped, seems like a lifetime ago now, a distant remnant from the old world.
The band, which dipped its toe into a stylistic shift towards The Go-Betweens-reminiscent Australiana on the album, had a brief five-month touring window before the world fell apart. We've all been dancing the doomsday ballet ever since; metaphorically, of course.
"No dancing!" warned frontman Ben Marwe to the 600 Coopers-fuelled punters. "Don't make me come down there, I've just hit 100 kegs [kgs]!" he said, before muttering under his breath "I've never punched anyone in my life."
You wouldn't know it from the way he dodged and weaved like a punch-drunk brawler as he spat out the lyrics to triple j hits 'Piss Christ' and 'Double Dreaming' from 'Doomsday Ballet' in a thick Strine accent.
His warnings fell on deaf ears, though; it was mob rule as a year of pent-up frustration exploded at the front of the stage; there was technically no dancing – they're not really that kind of band – but plenty of fervent finger pointing, lyric shouting and more.
2020 single 'Desert Television' and 'Doomsday Ballet''s 'Low Life' were newly-minted fan favourites, as was acoustic, guitar-driven 'Sonny'.
At the end of a particularly raucous track, all Marwe could say was "f..."; the expletive was parroted around the venue.
What more can you say about the year we've just had or the way it feels to return to some semblance of normality? COVID-normal isn't too bad; The Bridgeway's back, and you get free stubby holders at gigs now. Bring on the roaring '20s.