International Ballroom - Atlanta, USA

silverchair and Ammonia, International Ballroom

The line rang three times the length of the venue, and it was a big venue. silverchair's outrageous success in the U.S.A. (almost 2 million records sold) started here in Atlanta, and 3,500 Americans turned out to have their age groups painstakingly labelled at the door.

The drink-tag delay meant that only two-thirds of the crowd saw silverchair's feted successors, Ammonia, but all of them knew the words to Drugs. Both bands scored their first U.S. airplay from loval modern rock station 99X, an influential one if the display that followed was any indication.

Clearly spurred on, the band played like demons and silverchair's mixer gave them the all-important fair deal. An Australian flag waved from the mosh pit. Arms reached for the ceiling and the sold-out hangar rang with a shrieking crescendo after almost every tune.

The ferocity of silverchair's reception was far less surprising but even more awesome. Moshery doubled -- and then some -- the crowd packed tight, sending a layer of sweat mist high into the rafters.

The band was as cute as three buttons -- Daniel Johns waggishly underage in white shirt and school tie -- and yes, several young girls partially disrobed in a manner to which Tom Jones is not unaccustomed. But it was their meaty bluster of sound which impressed the most. silverchair are still quite little. Let's remember, they only sound BIG.

Slave opened the thunderous set to a madhouse of crowd-surfin' fools. Several more newies studded the show -- Freak, Pop Song, Nobody Came -- though audience behavior was geared toward insanity regardless. Findaway was an early fave, Pure Massacre was saved for a highly dynamic finale.

Ever the japester, Johns introduced the 'chair's original U.S. hit, Tomorrow, as "a new song called Drugs." A long and ear-bruising Israel's Son was saved for the last encore, punters taking the singer's possessed "hands in the air" refrain literally, to spectacular effect. As Johns thrashed across the stage on his belly, wigging out on feedback, Ben Gillies threw his drum sticks in the air and went the running, jumping stage dive, into the open arms of American youth... or something. Awesome!

silverchair: believing the hype is probably advisable. Their Perth labelmates have only taken their first step on U.S. soil by comparison but it looks pretty solid from here.