Only a year after the release of their debut LP Highly Evolved,
the Vines’ live show has become a rock spectacle that one must see
to believe. As fodder for music critics and gossip columnists, lead
singer Craig Nicholls’ erratic behavior has both elevated the Vines
into the spotlight while threatening to destroy them at the same
time. On the night of April 8, Nicholls’ mania stole the show from
the rest of the Vines, who were demoted to helpless bystanders, in
a performance that was sloppy and unpredictable, yet somehow

Todd Weiser
Courtesy of Capitol Records

In a year that saw bands with names that begin with “The,” and
singers with extraordinarily messy hair emerge to reclaim rock from
the death grip of rap metal and anyone who wears red Yankees
baseball hats, the Vines have found their niche as the loud,
irreverent, moody and unpredictable poster boys for this rock

It is debatable whether or not Nicholls’ antics are a result of
a truly imbalanced disposition or the pressure to live up to his
live wire reputation. That night it seemed most likely that
Nicholls is an overworked brat who uses his stage time to act out
his understandable frustration with his label who insists the band
continues to tour. Whatever the case, the road is clearly wearing
on the Vines and has resulted in incomplete sets, onstage fights,
cancelled shows and a trip back to Australia to mentally

Though the Vines nearly completed their set at St. Andrew’s, it
appeared painfully clear that they must end this tour to avoid
becoming a complete parody of themselves. Nicholls managed to
maintain focus as the band ripped through set opener and latest
single “Outtathaway.” By the second song it became obvious to the
crowd and the rest of the band that it was going to be “one of
those nights,” as Nicholls attempted to deliver a new song that may
or may not have been in English. From then on, the show proceeded
as a beautiful mess of his theatrics, acrobatics and

A sense of frustration emanated from the stage as other band
members tried to salvage their dignity. It was nearly comical to
witness bassist and backup vocalist Patrick Matthews deliver his
lyrics in “Get Free” in the exact manner he does on record, while
Nicholls attempted to sing every note but the right one.

The most passionately delivered songs of the evening came in the
form of “Mary Jane,” a thinly veiled ode to, and explanation for,
Nicholls’ behavior and a transcendent reworking of OutKast’s “Miss
Jackson.” “Highly Evolved” was cut shorter than its usual running
time of 90 seconds, as Nicholls proceeded to climb the monitors and
swing like a monkey from the rafters. This led to a rather scary
moment as the St. Andrew’s crowd chanted, “Jump,” to the
questionably stable front man.

Surprisingly, the crowd was tolerant of Nicholl’s mood and
accepted his undeniably entertaining presence as a consolation
prize for completely refusing to recreate the sound of Highly
Evolved. Though there was a sense that some more faithful
renditions would have been appreciated, there was satisfaction in
hearing the Vines destroy the glossy Hollywood production.

After an hour, Nicholls abruptly decided it was time for set
closer “Fuck the World.” As the song spiraled out of control, he
leapt into Hamish Rosser’s drum kit. Amazingly, this did not daunt
Rosser, who continued to play around his fallen leader, suggesting
that this sort of destruction happens nightly. Just after the
roadies managed to piece the stage back together for an encore, the
house lights went up. In the true spirit of rock and roll, it seems
that “Fuck the World” is not only the Vines’ new song, but their
calling card as well.

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