From scooters to ski pants, from white lipstick to winkle pickers, STARK RAVING MOD! is a celebration of the 60s-revival Mod subculture in 1980s Australia.

Posted: April 15th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Mod | 1 Comment »


by Ted Keating

The third night, between bands, a few of us were hanging outside Macy’s. It was hot inside and I needed some fresh air, so checking out the line of scooters was an obvious as the bar was busy. A hotted up red 2-door pulled up….maybe a Charger or Pontiac. Anyway the two blokes started with some abuse. I laugh now thinking how original it was – “Mods suck”….”Poofters” blah blah blah. Nobody said anything to them but when one walked up to a scooter and yelled “Vespas suck” I couldn’t resist telling him to fuck off and then kicking the car’s rear bumper…or was it a tail light? Either way there was no damage and they sped off. I felt proud standing up to them and I copped a few pats on the back from some of the older Mods.

This all changed a short time later when a car of the same description returned and a Molotov was lobbed at the scooters. Scoop Dettre jumped into the fire and saved a few from being toast…suffering nasty burns in the process. I felt the glaring eyes and then the accusations started that it was all my fault.

I went for a walk and in a rage I kicked a pile of milk crates onto the road….not seeing the passing cop car! Shit! Now I had 2 cops on my case wanting my details…the Mods appeared from everywhere and started paying out on them. Solidarity restored.


On the Sunday night the Sets played their last gig of the tour in Collingwood. They played well but the mood of the crowd seemed flat compared to the previous night. By that night many of the Mods hadn’t slept in days and some people were getting a bit snarly. That last night of the Invasion didn’t go down well. A division started early in the evening when some Mods blamed others for reacting to abuse from some drive-by hoons, who had later retaliated with a fire-bomb.

After the gig, the Sets threw a party at an abandoned, two-level warehouse somewhere in the inner suburbs of Melbourne. The band generously blew all its gig money on numerous slabs of beer for this last-night bash. The party kicked off OK with 60s and 80s Mod canned music. Many of the Mods let themselves go with aggressive dancing. The party soon took a turn and became a bit of a drunken swill. One of the Sets’ road crew, Ashley, started dancing recklessly on a balcony and was told sternly by others to “get down”. This single small event, the commotion outside Macy’s and some rumblings from the Sets’ road crew seemed to be the catalysts that snowballed into wider issues of resentment. Beer talks and things got heated with various opinions about the direction of the Mod scene being voiced. Some people felt the scene was too narrow and hierarchical and aired their frustrations, whether real or imaginary. As Sunday night turned into early morning, the enthusiasm of the weekend fell away into confusion, upset and blame games. It was a downer of a way to end such a fun weekend. On its return to Sydney the Mod scene soon fragmented with various factions finding other bands to follow and new watering holes and clubs.

It could be said that Easter 81 was the peak of the Australian 80s Mod scene. Whatever the case, after that crazy long weekend the Sydney Mods found and went in new, wider directions. But no-one who took part will ever forget the feeling of intense camaraderie, enthusiasm and raw energy that was the Melbourne Invasion Experience.

“Scooters, cappuccinos, pills, alcohol. Aggression, dancing and very little else. No time to revive or relax – which made it just about the fastest/happiest weekend I can remember. Was it 3 days or 3 weeks? Who cares? Melbourne was a drink and you get drunk when you’re young.”

Sept Jours, 1981