Live: Violent Soho
Violent Soho / Luca Brasi
Manning Bar, Sydney 08/07/2014
Review: Emily Swanson | Photos: Sandra Markovic
Some music has an impeccable way of clicking with a generation. The lyrics just “get” you; the tunes are rarely far from your thoughts. Sometimes it’s even able to sculpt the cultural landscape. Anyone who’s witnessed a Violent Soho performance in the last year can no doubt attest that with each and every show, the band are stirring up something in the hearts of Australia’s youth.
When the Brisbane four-piece announced that they’d be hitting the road with Tassie’s Luca Brasi and the ever-ocker Smith Street Band, among reactions of “Hell fuck YEAH!” we wondered how big this tour would be. Shows in Melbourne and Brisbane sold out and more were added just as quickly. “Impressive,” we thought. Add to that a sold-out 1,000-cap Manning Bar. “Shit…” Times it by three and add further dates across the country. 14 sold-out capital city shows? Tonight was going to be fucking wild.
The four fellas from the Apple Isle scored the main support slot for the first Sydney show and they treated us to a double from their 2011 debut, Extended Family: “Southbound” and “Isaac Bowen”. Luca Brasi’s sound was tight, helmed by token “whoa-ohs” and warm vocal harmonies as they delivered palatable, wholesome punk rock. There really is a wealth of talent looming just below the surface of Australia’s modern rock scene.
In the between-band lull, the crowd was sated by Tom Morello’s iconic riff from that Rage Against The Machine song, and whether it was a tactical move to set people’s internal meters to “party” or just the sound guy cranking out his favourite jams, the mass sing-along to “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!” was a fitting precursor to the Violent Soho live experience.
Last year, Hungry Ghost – Violent Soho’s second LP – burned its way into our consciousness (we shit you not, it hasn’t left the ARIA album charts since its release), and tonight it formed the crux of the show. “Dope Calypso” and “Lowbrow” started the madness, with shredder James Tidswell and bassist Luke Henery thrashing about on stage with as much fervour as the crowd. The energy rarely wavered, even when flicking from the “Fuck you, fuck you” noise of “Muscle Junkie”, to the gritty, melodic pop of “Fur Eyes” and the slower “Saramona Said”. These are slacker anthems for the Aussie youth of today.
They kept things casual throughout; “Is there anything you guys wanna talk about while we wait for some bass?” frontman Luke Boerdam offered whilst his techs snapped into gear. They were grateful that so many punters came out to party on a Tuesday, and they were also humble, admitting that they were honoured to be sharing the stage with one of Australia’s best bands in Luca Brasi. Even the most marginal of Soho fans would have been intrigued by their engaging stage presence. It’s impossible to stand still during this band.
Things hit breaking point with the opening notes of “Covered In Chrome” as the crowd geared up for a series of screamed “Yeah!”s and the one line many a punter had been waiting to belt out since they walked in: “Hell fuck YEAH!” Good luck censoring this one in the US.
Refreshingly, they offered us no encore and come closer “Eightfold”, it was a fitting end to the night. When it comes to Violent Soho, there’s no trickery; you’re not being duped. What you see, in all of its scruffy glory, is what you get. Is the growing popularity of raw, chaotic bands like this a reaction against the blinding sheen of modern pop? If it is, consider us along for the messy, messy ride.