The Shifters Do Their Usual Punk Thing At The Pinnacle

The Fitzroy Pinnacle is a peculiar venue. Like a miniature Melbourne version of Manhattan’s iconic Flatiron Building, it’s narrowness begets a stereotypical gig experience. So it was that The Shifters put on this free performance on Friday night squeezed into the stage space, facing an audience entirely sitting down. The occasion felt more befitting of a stand up comedy night or a piano lounge bar - essentially anything but a raucous concert. 


But that didn’t stop front man Miles Jansen from channeling his supreme Mark E Smith energy - he has alluded to a deep love of The Fall before - into the performance. He’s a magnetic presence, his brooding eyes constantly shifting between audience members, as if seeking out a weak link, someone who isn’t responding as he would like to his music. 


Their set was tight, the rhythm relentless, never ceasing in its flow. The mere head-nodding from the audience, stuck as they were by the timid setting, doesn’t stop the band from doing their usual thing. Their DIY punk, in a way, mines the claustrophobia of The Pinnacle to sound effect. The songwriting is equally strong, a lyricism that has the hallmarks of a Smith or David Berman. Their songs talk of fascinating things and do it wittily and sharply. 


The Shifters are relentless in their touring, particularly in the Melbourne scene. It’s a wonder to be afforded the opportunity to see such an excellent punk band playing a free show on a November night, safe in the knowledge that they’re highly likely to be found somewhere else in the city next month; they also toured around Europe earlier this year. 


The band closed with personal favourite Creggan Shops, a song about The Irish Troubles, of all things. The lyrics reference kneecap shootings, a form of punishment that was often carried out by paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland during The Troubles. How this Melbourne outfit came to be inspired to write about such a historical and remote subject matter remains to be seen but it suits the post-punk frenetic energy regardless.


Stellar support was also provided by newly founded local band HILDA, featuring Ryan Coffey from The Shifters in their lineup.