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By James Cerche
11th April 2015

The spectacularly named Guantanamo Baywatch rolled their debut Australian tour through Melbourne, entertaining a small but appreciative group of the devoted and the curious. The Portland natives brought sexy, scuzzy surf rock to the hallowed Tote with style and energy.

It should be noted the American trio were preceded by local oddballs Richie 1250 & The Brides Of Christ, a large Cramps-loving crew who perpetuated the spirit of the night with rollicking, groove laden rockabilly. Leopard printed female backing vocals, costume changes, and a charming rendition of Technotronic's ‘Pump Up The Jam’ earned them considerable points.

60s surf and garage revival right now is about as untapped as the recent boom in 80s pop re-treads. We’re seeing a lot of it, and while this is in no terms “a bad thing”, the task of stepping ahead of the masses is a tough ask. Guantanamo Baywatch have taken it upon themselves to do just that. The name makes an instant impression towards the memorable so they’re already on the scoreboard before they start.


Taking to the stage a little after 11pm, the trio kick off with an instrumental jam. It’s clear from the outset that Guantanamo Baywatch have their roots deeply planted in the likes of Dick Dale by way of The Sonics, going about their task with enough ingenuity to elevate themselves above classic aping. We’ll hear a few sleek arrangements tonight, the reverb-drenched guitars and tumbling drums sounding damn authentic throughout the set which lasted a little under an hour.

 Any group containing a face-pulling drummer, blue-haired bassist and a dude in a ‘Halloween’ tank top is going to enjoy my attention when they can back it up with solid playing ability and deftly crafted guitar pop. There’s a lot of great nuggets being rolled around up there. Nothing groundbreaking, but it’s cold outside and the band is hot so it doesn't matter. “Thanks for coming... I’m sorry we don’t know how to play any more songs,” grins vocalist Jason Powell before departing to join his bandmates. With a new LP due to drop in May, I think we can expect to see another visit from these guys in the months. 

You can catch them on the rest of their brief East Coast tour until the 18th of April, including an extra show at Melbourne’s Old Bar on Monday the 13th.

BAND: Guantanamo Baywatch
MEMBERS: Jason Powell
Chevelle Wiseman
Chris Scott
FROM: Portland, Or
SOUND: Surf / Garage / 60s
FACEBOOK: guantanamobaywatchband
TWITTER: @guantanamobw
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