Live Review: Violent Soho

Originally published through Tone Deaf.

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A guy in his mid-20s is hanging from the ceiling, climbing the poles like an oversized monkey. Below him, and colliding with his feet, a churning pit of heavily sweating, intoxicated people are throwing themselves at the stage. One is crowdsurfing with the world’s most nonchalant expression on his face.

The stage is barely visible through a curtain of thrashing hair and hands raised in a devoted semi-circle around a black-haired singer. There are people clambering onto the speakers, each other, and the stage.

Welcome to a Violent Soho show.

Support act Damn Terran initiated the chaos of the night, an impressive local trio with a healthy punk spirit. Their to-the-point songs (“Pills,” “Rebels”) were gritty bursts of anarchic energy, asking age-old questions like “will you still like me when you’re not on pills?

Guitarist Lachlan Ewbank and bassist Ali Edmonds masterfully handled the vocals, mixing up menacing, clean lines with scratchy shouting while Leigh Ewbank pounded the kit behind them.

Their shy stage banter was sporadic, but this was fitting as it allowed them to pour their dedication into the music.

And just because they didn’t talk to the crowd much doesn’t mean they didn’t get loose. Most impressive was Ewbank playing his guitar while swinging it wildly through the air, eventually throwing it away at the end of the set.

Violent Soho then introduced themselves with a surprisingly soothing wash of guitar, before the demented pop punk whine of Luke Boerdam’s vocals joined in (the most unique part of Violent Soho’s appeal).

Fascinating in how purposefully out of tune it is, Boerdam’s voice is a banshee scream plunging over the fairly simple chord progressions that make up most of their songs.

As this was an album preview, naturally, a lot of these were new. Denser for the most part than much of the band’s previous work, these tracks sounded both more ambitious and more cohesive than We Don’t Belong Here and Violent Soho –  although with less of a garage feel.

The audience seemed to like them in any case, partying happily to these as well as already released tracks like “Neighbour, Neighbour.”

Along with playing songs both old and new, the band also found the time to blatantly ask the audience for drugs. “We don’t just mean weed you know!” they clarified helpfully.

The highlight of the night was the encore, not least because it appeared to be genuinely spontaneous.

“I don’t know if we’ve ever done an encore before, but we definitely wouldn’t do it in any other city!” Boerdam announced, sounding exhilarated, before ripping into the fantastic “Jesus Stole My Girlfriend” and “Muscle Junkie.”

Here the crowd tipped from appreciative to ecstatic, transforming into a many-headed monster of pure frenzy. A good gig is as much about the crowd as the band, and this one rocked it.   

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