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NUN's Jenny Branagan shares her top five underground Brisbane bands of the 90's

11 December 2018 | 1:28 pm | Caitlin Medcalf

With a newly minted record titled The Dome nestled neatly under their belt, seminal Melbourne synth post-punk outfit NUN are currently out in tour in support of the record.

The record takes clean-cut sci-fi scores, pairs them aptly with the voice of singer Jenny Branagan and is a damn good exploration into what pop music can be defined as. It's outside of traditional pop, but this one feels like the group's deepest dive into the genre to date.

They've taken The Dome up and down the east coast of Australia, with the tour set to wrap up this Saturday at The Foundry in Brisbane and it's going to be a special one.

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Jenny lived in Brissy for the most part of the 90's, immersing herself in the underground scene there and becoming very involved with local institution 4ZZZ. Because it's going to be such a special one, returning for somewhat of a home show with NUNJenny has put together her top five underground bands from up in 90's Brissy. Take a read below:


Brisbane in 1994 I was in my early teens, having moved from Ireland 4 years earlier I spent my time in Brisbane’s heat sludge trying my hardest to access music, pop culture, skateboarding, parties, gigs and later clubs. Brisbane in the 90s was a goldmine of bands, gigs, in stores and it was easy to get into venues, the Valley was not the dystopian security stranglehold it is today, but also most bands played all ages shows too.

I worked after school and weekends at the local supermarket - money earned would be spent on going to see a band. Venues like The Roxy, Van Gogh's Ear Lobe, The Tube, Normanby, The Orient, Fat Boys, The Chelsea and Babylon were regular haunts as were Skinnys, Rocking Horse in stores, Paddington Skate Park for daytime gigs. I can’t remember whose house it was but someone had a ramp in the yard around Paddington / Red Hill they would have parties with bands.

No Internet, no money, 4ZZZ was everything – access to another world – that was how to discover what gigs were on. 4ZZZ Market Days were not to be missed. I have always had a love of heavy music, industrial, metal, punk, electronic, techno – in my later teens I developed a love of 90s rap, soundtracks, production, MPCs and beat making. But we are talking my teenage years – and the Brisbane band scene so I have set that demarcation. The 90s club scene is one for another day. 

1. Emporium

Mr Bungle, Emporium, Whore 1996 at The Roxy

I had Emporium's s/t record on tape – an older friend had taped it for me. I was obsessed. I was 15 years old. Emporium were support alongside Whore for Mr Bungles first record at The Roxy. Emporium owned that gig – I was very taken with the entire force of it – ha like Brisbane’s own Godflesh. Listening back now it still holds up.

2. Gravelrash

4ZZZ Cybernana Market Day, 1996 at Musgrave Park

I loved this band. Discovering Gravelrash coincided with me also getting into L7’s 'Bricks Are Heavy' so I place these two very much together. Gravelrash were true slayers and had that cool presence - so tough!!! I think my first time seeing them was at the 1996 4ZZZ Musgrave Park market day. It was a very relaxed day, everyone was having fun, it was safe. Then all of sudden there were cops and military police just smashing people on horses for no reason whatsoever other than they felt like it. That day, Gravelrash, a massive QLD rainstorm and the cops made an impression for life. Good and bad.

Here are Gravelrash being tough:

Here is some agenda driven news footage I found post that Marketday:


BUDD were fuzzed out, Big Muff humid warfare aligning with me squinting/burning in the QLD sun. I would adorn both my converse and school bag with names of bands I worship - BUDD featured on both – high praise! The gig I recall was Budd, Screamfeeder, Dreamkillers and Mark of Cain. Check out this video clip for ‘Scary’ from Budd - filmed around the traps of Brisbane 1992:

4. The Onyas

Zed O MatiQUe 1995 at University of Queensland, Carpark

Another band to make it onto the ‘school bag of fame’ was The Onyas. I saw them at my very first 4ZZZ market day in a uni car park - I went with my older brother and his friends. I crowd surfed and moshed ha, ha... Hit my head a few times but loved every minute of it. What a great punk band. Fast-forward 20 odd years - I met Rich Stanley (Onyas) in Melbourne after a NUN show and he asks if his label Aarght Records can put out our first record. I did not realise it was him at the time, but we bonded over a packet of crisps and a beer at a late night bar and joined the Brisbane dots. Here is some old footage from 94’ of The Onyas playing Babylon:

Here they are at The Roxy 94’ ha, ha Rich still wears those sunnies:

5. Dogmachine

Industrial legends and definitely a BIG influence on the direction my musical taste took in my teens exploring techno, electronic, club world and hip hop. The combination of technology around, sampling - again that distortion which seemed to define the era, anger – punk vocals, angle grinders on stage - Dogmachine were mind blowing. I saw them a heap of times at market days, Crash n Burn or Babylon (one of those…). I am quite sure they supported Atari Teenage Riot at The Roxy but again my memory here is hazy. The video to 'Headwound' would pop up late night– making Reznor's 'Head Like a Hole' sound like a ballad:

Ahhhh and here is some 4ZZZ market day live footage I found: