unnamed 4Amyl and the Sniffers Heat up The Vermont: When Melbourne, Australia rockers Amyl and the Sniffers come to town, it’s sort of become an event. At the band’s sold out show at The Vermont (a new-ish club venue near Los Angeles City College that we’ll be spotlighting in an upcoming  LINA-IN-LA nightlife column soon), the vibe was brimming with unbridled vigor and vinegar, but also a joyful warmth. It was a chilly Monday night, but inside the venue, it felt about 100 degrees thanks to the sweaty pogo packs and non-stop pit action.

Fronted by audacious frontperson Amy Taylor, Amyl –whose name references Amyl Nitrate aka “poppers”–  are known for their wild live shows, something that is conveyed on record but only sonically.  The music is full of rants, snarls and licks and it’s substantially more invigorating in the flesh.

With the success of their second album Comfort To Me (ATO Records) following-up their 2019 self-titled debut, the Sniffers are Pitchfork/NME darlings these days. They also just won Australia’s ARIA Award for Best Rock Album and they deserve the accolades (clearly, Arias understands the rock category better than our Grammys). The album, crafted during the COVID quarantine, has seen the band refine their sound and scope, honing their “live in the moment” message with wide-ranging emotional storytelling that experiments with raucous rhythms and riffs.

amyl 1

Dec Martens and Amy Taylor (Lina Lecaro)

As Taylor shared in press materials for the new record, “Having to deal with a lot of authority during 2020 and realizing my lack of power made me feel both more self destructive and more self disciplined, more nihilistic and more depressed and more resentful, which ultimately fueled me with a kind of relentless motivation. I became a temporary monster. I partied more, but I also exercised heaps, read books and ate veggies. I was like an egg going into boiling water when this started, gooey and weak but with a hard surface. I came out even harder. I’m still soft on the inside, but in a different way.”

The Sniffers newly discovered duality was definitely on display Monday. Dressed in a sparkly top and bottoms, with short white-blonde hair and glam rock makeup, Taylor was mesmerizing to watch. We’d like to resist comparing her to other female artists we admire for obvious reasons, but in this case, it’s hard not to. From Wendy O’ Williams to Debbie Harry, the image of a badass blonde commanding the stage both vocally and physically with a band of boys –equally animated guitarist Dec Martens, bassist Gus Romer, and drummer Bryce Wilson– behind her is cool to see. Taylor doesn’t sound like either of them (we hear shades of Poly Styrene and Ian MacKaye, only with a subtle Aussie accent) but she projects a similar allure and commanding presence.

amyl setlistWe ran into our friend Nick Launay (producer for Nick Cave and Yeah Yeah Yeahs) at the show and discovered he mixed the band’s latest, which makes sense. Nick has a gift for showcasing dynamic performers on record and capturing their alchemy in unexpected ways. He says more is to come from the band, and as a new fan who got turned on to them via our teen daughter, we look forward to seeing what’s next. The band will be playing their homeland, opening for Jane’s Addiction and Smashing Pumpkins this Spring.

The set featured older material at the top of the show and newer near the end, which diehards seemed to appreciate as sort of a trajectory-minded experience. Highlight tracks for us included Comfort To Me’s first single “Guided by Angels,” the taunty ”Got You” off their debut and the climactic show closer “Hertz,” but pretty much every song was elevated by a provocative and interpretive performance. See setlist photo here.


Amyl and the Sniffers Heat up The Vermont: Read more about Amyl and the Sniffers’ in LA Weekly Music’s “My Favorite Album” column here.




























































































































































































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