Great, greater, greatest: Violent Soho reach new heights in Brisbane

Photo credits: Kylie Keene

For many around the south of Brisbane, the day is coming to a close – work is over, classes are finished and the commute across the bridge has begun. Across the way at the Riverstage, however, things are just getting started for Violent Soho’s (almost) hometown show.

Supports Tired Lion kick off proceedings. They may be Perth natives, but there’s no three-hour time difference to worry about – their indie-leaning post-grunge is immediate, propulsive and instantly accessible.

There’s nerves, understandably, around the scale of the performance space alone; which cause slight wobbles. For the most part, however, Tired Lion justify their presence on such a bill – particularly when they throw in big-business singles ‘I Don’t Think You Like Me’ and ‘Not My Friends’, equal measures bite and bark in their execution.

Luca Brasi’s third LP, If This is All We’re Going To Be, has proven to be their most popular yet; solidified by regular Triple J airplay and a sold-out national tour in support of it. For all of Brasi’s moving parts – Tyler Richardson’s authoritative roar, the twin-fire guitar dynamics, the muscular drum swing – it’s their cohesion that seals the deal. When a clap-along ensues during ‘Count Me Out’, it feels as if they’re headlining. Truthfully, it may not be that long before they are.

LA punk-rockers The Bronx have spent well over a decade bringing raw grit and turbulent ferocity to the stage, and nothing – not even their sunset-blessed environment – is going to change that tonight. ‘Heart Attack American’ fires off on all cylinders – Joby Ford races across the fretboard, fill-in drummer David Hidalgo, Jr. powers through as if he’s been with the band from the start and Matt Caughthran lets out an extended, screached “YEAH!” that would put even a young Roger Daltrey to shame. The one-two punch of ‘They Will Kill Us All (Without Mercy)’ and ‘History’s Stranglers’ is a devastating final blow – a message to all and sundry that, while they may certainly be followed, bands like The Bronx are very rarely topped.

Luca Brasi

By the time 8:30 rolls around, the hills are well and truly alive. For Violent Soho, tonight is about things coming full circle. It’s about validation. It’s about cementing their place as Brisbane’s single most important contemporary band. It’s come at a cost – as is well documented, it took nearly a decade of existence as a band for the greater part of anywhere to collectively give a shit. Still, as the cheers rise in the darkness – and the band’s parents, partners and children watch on – it becomes clear that every sacrifice made in order to keep Violent Soho alive after all this years was worth it.

“This is not only the greatest set Violent Soho have played…it’s also their most important.”

‘Dope Calypso’ not only opens the band’s game-changing Hungry Ghost LP from back in 2013, it has also opened nearly every show since. It makes perfect sense, given its smart dynamics and array of big hooks. Tonight, however, it feels special – more than usual, at the very least. The one-two- three-four snare drum-roll hits so hard, you can feel it in your chest. A banner drops. The lights go all the way up – almost blindingly. For all the time that James Tidswell, Luke Boerdam, Luke Henery and Michael Richards spent meticulously studying their heroes, moments like this validate the fact that – for so many young people watching their every move across the amphitheatre – Soho have become heroes themselves.

Violent Soho

What’s truly incredible is that a moment like this isn’t a one-off. This is a set that positively filled with them. It comes when Boerdam drops off the mic, giving in to let the audience front the band during pivotal moments in ‘Jesus Stole My Girlfriend,’ ‘Like Soda’ and ‘Viceroy’. It comes when the quartet go above and beyond in the shoegaze-inspired wig-out of an expanded ‘OK Cathedral’, implementing all manner of pedals and knobs in order to truly push the sound levels into the red.

It comes as the band acknowledge those that have been following them since before Hungry Ghost by ripping through an early-period staple, ‘Love is a Heavy Word’. And, of course, it comes as the night ends on ‘Covered in Chrome’; the band’s signature song and one that will be remembered as one of the country’s biggest crossover rock successes. The “HELL FUCK YEAH” raised up to the leader outside is so loud, it can probably be heard by the residents of the band’s hometown of Mansfield.

This is not only the greatest set Violent Soho have played – that much is clear from the opening minutes. It’s also their most important. It’s elevated them to a higher status, a true point of no return as far as their stakes in the Australian music climate are concerned. Backstage at the Riverstage, there is a golden plaque on the wall commemorating Powderfinger’s final run of shows that took place at this very venue.

If tonight proves anything, the only direction Soho can take from here is to head straight for their own plaque. Long may they reign.

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