Amyl and the Sniffers
Fox Theater, Oakland
October 12, 2023
Photos by Raymond Ahner
The last few years have been a rollercoaster for Amyl and the Sniffers. An Australian punk band, while they started out playing at small venues like Thee Parkside when they first went stateside in 2019, they opened up the first date of their North American tour in Oakland at the Fox Theater.
Comprised of Dec Martens on guitar, Bryce Wilson on drums, Gus Romer on bass, and the titular Amy Taylor on vocals, the band came onstage to the sound of “Man! I Feel Like A Woman!” by Shania Twain blasting over the PA. Almost instantly the sound cut off and Declan began playing the opening riff of “Control” from their self-titled debut album. The crowd immediately began a huge mosh pit of about 75 people in the front of the stage that lasted the duration of the show as Amy belted out, “I like control, I’m obsessed!”
The band transitioned from song to song seamlessly, never losing steam or giving the audience a second to relax and catch their breath. “Control” went straight into “Freaks To The Front,” which went straight into “Got You.” Only then did Any say a few words to the audience, and then it was back to knocking the audience over the head with “Capital” straight into “Security” straight into “Starfire 500.”
One thing that I was interested in was seeing if Amy could control an audience this size as well as she does a smaller crowd. Last year I saw Amyl and the Sniffers at the Great American Music Hall, a venue that holds under 500 people, and it was one of the most intense crowds that I’ve ever been in. By comparison, The Fox Theater holds about six times as many people. It turned out that my worries were for nothing, as Amy and the band had complete control of the audience from the second that they all stepped onstage. There was an ongoing issue with the sound, as an unending bass rumble kept up for nearly the entirety of the show. But other than that ongoing problem, the band has seamlessly made the jump from playing clubs to theaters.
There was no encore from the band. After playing their signature song “Some Mutts (Can’t Be Muzzled),” a song that I thought would surely be the closing number, the band played the one slow song of the night: “Knifey” from their most recent album, 2021’s Comfort To Me. A song about the dangers of walking by yourself at night being a woman, it was the one song of the evening where Amy dropped the tough-girl persona that she so seamlessly played into on every other song throughout the show.
Opening the evening was the Texas-based Die Spitz, a band that one of my close friends has been telling me to listen to for ages. The quartet sounded like a perfect combination of L7, Jack Off Jill, and The Distillers. With each member getting their moment in the spotlight throughout their incredibly energetic set, Die Spitz is a band that I would love to see in a headlining context in a more intimate environment.