Live Review: Violent Soho in Sydney
Last month saw Violent Soho headlining Sydney’s Oxford Art Factory on the Sydney leg of their Australian tour, following the release of their third full-length album, Hungry Ghost. With the show comprising of Triple J’s most endearing ruffians, Dune Rats and Straight Arrows as supports, by the time of my arrival, the scene was already set with enough long hair and disenfranchised youth to make any middle-aged conservative reach for the paddlin’ stick.
Dune Rats kicked off the evening with another flagrant display of where plugging positive weed ideology, physical attractiveness and rampant pissing about, can potentially land you in the Australian music industry. Their brand of indie surf pop performances are undoubtedly entertaining and they undeniably possess the ability to whip a crowd into a frenzy, whereby the stage is set for a good old-fashioned romping party and teenage girls pee their pants just a little bit. Although one can’t help but be left with the impression that if Dune Rats assigned the same amount of effort into replacing the disproportionately large amount of “ooh’s” in their songs with real words and more interesting musical sections as they do to making videos of themselves smoking bongs, the band wouldn’t be terminally designated as much to the opening slot as they appear to be.
Having heard some promising rumours concerning Straight Arrows with absolutely no apt description of their music, I approached their performance with a fair amount of curiosity. A mixture of 70’s west coast surf rock and punk, Straight Arrows produce an atmosphere of, to use to the technical term, total badassery and fun that an audience just eats the fuck up. The music is by no means groundbreaking and instills the sense that you’ve heard it done before but probably better; regardless, their performance is one to catch.
Having caught Violent Soho, admittedly, four times in the past year, I’ve learnt with a resolute guarantee, precisely what to expect from their performances. The band puts on a seamless gig; musically flawless and gracefully stepping the bounds between ardent professionalism and teenage riot. It is next to impossible to avoid enthusiastically throwing your body around once they get going and watching the crowd surging fiercely in a relatively small venue whenever a particularly favoured song comes rolls around is always kind of spectacular to observe. The set comprised of equal parts Hungry Ghost and their 2010 self-titled release, allowing for feverish zeal originating from old fans and new. Tracks such as “Dope Calypso” and “Neighbour Neighbour” appear to incite just as much audience fervour as the wildly clever staples such as “Tinderbox”, “Son of Sam” and “Muscle Junkie” from older releases. I would always highly recommend attending a Violent Soho live performance and witnessing this brilliance for yourself; as an additional bonus, after watching them enough times, one can grow to estimate exactly how many times the second guitarist, James will go ahead and mention the negotiation of receiving illicit drugs with the crowd. Four. It was four times.
Review by Elfy Scott. Photo by Philip Erbacher, taken at Violent Soho’s Hotel Street gig.