2018 Brisbane Festival Closing Party Review @ The Riverstage

Violent Soho headlined Brisbane Festival's 2018 Closing Party at The Riverstage (29 September). Violent Soho headlined Brisbane Festival's 2018 Closing Party at The Riverstage (29 September). Image © Pixels and Spice Photography

It seems a tricky feat, handpicking a musical line-up audibly comparable to Riverfire’s fireworks show.


Brisbane Festival’s visual finale was this year paired with four Australian bands, performing at an almost all-day long celebration at The Riverstage (29 September). I wandered through the gates just as the heavens began to open, plastic ponchos pulled on torsos watching WAAX round off their set.

The band stood before a backdrop reading ‘I’VE BEEN DISAPPOINTED LATELY’, an iconic line from their newest single, notable even without context.

WAAXWAAX - image © Pixels and Spice Photography

Highest-streamed ‘Same Same’ showcased vocalist Marie DeVita’s impressive ability to trill her voice (“And I won’t get, reliiieeef!”); the rare singing technique wickedly contrasted with her throaty, authentic punk grit.

Click here for more photos from the show.

The Brisbane band closed with their backdrop-inspired ‘Labrador’, lyrics admirably honest, their stage presence similar. Not one of the five musicians would be described as an image of ‘grace’ on stage, but who needs grace when you have power and vigour rivalled by far more established bands?

Methyl Ethel quietly entered to humbly tune their own guitars; few seemed to spot their distinctive haircuts though the odd fan cheered with excited recognition.

‘L’Heure Des Sorcieres’ had never quite crossed my radar though the ‘Everything Is Forgotten’ release made an impact; it could almost soundtrack a horror film, somehow upbeat with spooky undertones.

“Hello, hello, hello, hello, hello!” Jake Webb welcomed, the vocalist’s speaking voice surprisingly melodic, almost identical to his singing hues. ‘Groundswell’ became another unexpected frontrunner in my list of Methyl Ethel favourites, swirly and psychedelic, trailing off like an unanswered question.

Methyl EthelMethyl Ethel - image © Pixels and Spice Photography

The seemingly structured beat of ‘No. 28’ had no place in steering the melody; it was almost as if the two were separate entities at times. Separate, but moving in the same direction, falling over each other in harmony; the percussion dropped for the enigmatic bridge, keyboard soaring in the instrumental afterwards.

‘Oh Inhuman Spectacle’ stunner ‘Twilight Driving’ has always felt like an alternative Australian anthem (“Twilight driving, gotta watch out for the roos”); it was fascinating, feeling body movement in the mosh switch from dreamy swaying per verse, to bouncing per chorus. Almost everyone seemed to chime ‘Ubu’s repeated line: “Why’d you have to go and cut your hair?”, the bolder attempting the lyrics looped beneath.

Methyl Ethel finished beautifully with the shimmering ‘Drink Wine’, bass thumping below the juddering synths.

Meg Mac’s accompanying band were the first to surface, the crowd screaming in anticipation of her entry. She eventually walked onstage, shy smile and sharp suit, slowly delving into ‘Turning’.

Meg MacMeg Mac - image © Pixels and Spice Photography

I was immediately taken aback by the intensity of her voice; so much strength and control emanating from somebody so young. She powered through ‘Grace Gold’, the starting track of her debut album, ‘Low Blows’; I was awestruck by the stunning, jazz-inspired beginnings of 2014 song, ‘Known Better’.

From ‘Every Lie’ came an unpredicted tirade of releases I was completely familiar with: her incredible cover of ‘Grandma’s Hands’, plus ‘Maybe It’s My First Time’ – an undeniable power ballad – two beauties revived from a graveyard of gems I had somehow forgotten about.

Meg Mac.2Meg Mac - image © Pixels and Spice Photography

“It’ll probably be the last time I play this song, my Triple J Like A Version,” she admitted. “It’s more than one-year-old now, but I promised somebody on Instagram I’d perform it.” Her backup vocalist maintained the background melody of Tame Impala’s ‘Let It Happen’ faultlessly; avid listeners were next rewarded with Mec Mag’s record title track, ‘Low Blows’.

‘Ride It’ traced back to her blues-inspired roots, particularly eminent in her early releases. “This song never featured on an EP, never featured on an album,” – prior to ‘Never Be’; she closed with the smile-inducing, ‘Roll Up Your Sleeves’.

Thousands of eyes fixated on the sky during Riverfire’s spectacular display, though attention quickly shifted back to the stage as Violent Soho’s performance loomed.

RiverfireRiverfire - image © Pixels and Spice Photography

All afternoon and evening I’d quietly counted the Soho shirts among the crowd; I lost track at 50, and understandably so, there were hundreds, and that still seemed an inaccurate representation of the band’s mammoth’s fan base in Australia.

The Brisbane four-piece opened with ‘In The Aisle’, moshpit lolling and rolling menacingly; ‘Viceroy’s bass-strummed introduction sparked almost as much noise as the “Yeahhh! King or the viceroys!”, screeched through the chorus.

Violent SohoViolent Soho - image © Pixels and Spice Photography

Back-to-back ‘Waco’ tracks as the band ripped through ‘Blanket’, plus ‘So Sentimental’, one of their token slower movers. I was particularly thrilled to hear ‘Like Soda’ live, having gained a new sense appreciation for the song (lyrically, especially) after the boys shared an emerging musician’s cover on social media.

‘Fur Eyes’ asserted its title as my undisputed pick of the Violent Soho collection, a rubbish bin crowd-surfed across the moshpit during the song. “This one’s for you Jesus!” was announced prior ‘Jesus Stole My Girlfriend’, shining a well-deserved limelight on the band’s self-titled, debut album.

Their cover of Powderfinger's ‘These Days’ was relatively unanticipated, but not nearly as much as frontman Bernard Fanning’s sudden appearance. The Australian rock legend waved nonchalantly as he strolled across the stage, acoustic guitar in hand as he took the mic, and took the reins.

Violent Soho.2Violent Soho - image © Pixels and Spice Photography

Violent Soho concluded the set with ‘Hungry Ghost’s starting track, ‘Dope Calypso’, finally surrendering the well-awaited ‘Covered In Chrome’ as a closer.

It seems a tricky feat, soundtracking a spectacle as superb as Riverfire, though somehow the Brisbane Festival Closing Party managed to mirror the fireworks illuminating the sky.

WAAX brought the energy, the heat; the sparkle and colour stemmed from Methyl Ethyl; Meg Mac proved the ultimate wow-factor – and when haven’t Violent Soho brought a bang?

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