On the 31st of October, 2016 four rock bands gathered for an epic assembly of riveting guitar riffs, dynamite drum beats and extreme vocal screams. Through the power of all the sounds combined, this night is recalled as a heavy music phenomenon that encapsulated everything punk and rock. Bands Tired Lion, Luca Brasi, The Bronx and Violent Soho joined forces at Melbourne’s Festival Hall to produce this manic Monday night event. It was every contemporary Aus-rock fan’s dream team, with the hardcore addition of The Bronx (US).
Done and dusted, another epic Aussie tour and by the way Australia, this tour was undeniably the most epic of all! We can't believe all the love and support for our little rock band from Mansfield. It has blown us away to see so many smiling punters going off at these shows each night. So bloody thanks a million to all you legends across Australia for coming to these shows and thanks a billion to our all time heroes @bronxovision , @lucabrasitassie and @tiredlionband for making it all the more fun. We love you all! 📷 @kanye_lens
Holding the event on Halloween, at Melbourne’s original House of Rock and Roll added to the night’s fierce atmosphere. We were a crowd of around 5 000, all in electric spirits, thirsty for the music. With the passing of each band’s set, we craved the next harder. The event was announced as a Violent Soho tour, so there was no doubt that most of the crowd were there for Soho. While Tired Lion, Luca Brasi and, especially, The Bronx ignited the rock hungry flames in our souls, the fire didn’t grow until Violent Soho took the stage.
And they started the fire. They started the fire ‘like a big freight train.’
The crowd was in rest, after The Bronx’s epic set that started one hell-of-a circle pit. I was fortunate enough to hold my spot at the front of the pit, clinging to the stage barrier at times to ensure this, as the mass whirlpool of people moshed hard behind me. John Farnham’s You’re the Voice played over the speakers, drawing the crowd into a patriotic sing-along complete with applauding and outbursts. The cheering continued as we waited in the wake. We knew what was to follow.
Slim Dusty’s Watlzing Matilda broke the silence. Another sing-along? Violent Soho seemed to find the setup as funny as the crowd, smiling and smirking at us as they entered the stage, at the end of the first verse. Waltzing Matilda faded out and Soho took up their instruments. The lights dimmed, then brightened as Soho calmly strummed the opening chords of Dope Calypso.
The Soho banner dropped as they ripped into the heavier instrumentals. HELL YEAH. The four members of Soho: Luke Boerdam, James Tidswell, Luke Henery and Michael Richards: started headbanging and jumping around as they played (except for Richards, who was tied to his drum-kit, but going hard at it). Boerdam manned the mic to deliver the first lyrics. His voice was flawless. Rawer than the album but just as quality. Tidswell worked his guitar and the left side of the stage with skill and spunk. Henery was on my side, the right, strumming away on bass with just as much energy, and blessing us with the most powerful hair-flips I’ve ever seen. And less we forget Richards tearing up the drums; his beats kept our racing hearts pumping.
Soho set the bar high for the rest of the performance. They didn’t disappoint. They delivered seven years’ worth of tracks: songs from WACO (2016), Hungry Ghost (2013), and their self-titled album (2010). Each track was received with great pleasure and party energy.
An hour into set, No Shade was played. Confetti spurted from machines onstage to signify Soho’s performance was nearing end. They walked offstage at the end of the song. A loud demand for an encore followed.
After minutes of silence, Soho returned, sporting the same gleeful, smirking faces they had when they first took stage. Richards was topless, donning pink butterfly wings. Henery riled up the crowd, clapping and yelling, then Boerdam took the mic to apologise for Tidswell’s absence: ‘I think he had to do a shit, everyone. It happens.’ Tidswell made it out of the toilet. The crowd requested a shoey. ‘Feel free to take off your shoe and drink beer out of it, if you like that sorta thing,’ Tidswell laughed. Soho jumped into Tinder Box, followed by their 2013 Triple J’s Hottest 100 no. 14 hit Covered in Chrome.
‘Praising the devil they said, Hell f*ck yeah!’
The perfect close.
As Soho walked offstage for the final time, the crowd quieted and a unanimous feeling of love spread through us. We were fed. Very, well fed. It had been six years since Soho had played at Festival Hall, their return was long-awaited and exceeded expectations. To me, Violent Soho are hands down, the best contemporary Aus-rock band, and possibly the world’s. This night proved it just as much as their ARIA.
I can’t wait to see Violent Soho in their full spirits today at Groovin The Moo Bendigo. I aim to be at the front of the mosh. I’ll be posting a review of the festival—once I’ve recovered—so stay tuned to see whether I make it or not!
If I ever met Violent Soho, I would drink from their shoes.
Violent Soho fan or got something to say, anyway? Leave me a comment.
Want to know more about the spirit of rock moshes? Check out my How to Survive a Rock Mosh guide.
More gig reviews to come soon.
Until then, rock on dudes.