Review: Violent Soho @ The Riverstage (Brisbane)

Published in Music News  
Violent Soho played The Riverstage 1 May, 2021. Violent Soho played The Riverstage 1 May, 2021.

As life begins to return to some semblance of normal prior to the pandemic, part of the process of returning to every-day life is indulging in those activities denied us the past 12 months.

I've been to two AFL games this year (in Brisbane and Gold Coast) and a number of indoor concerts (both seated and standing) where the spectre of the pandemic still lurked, but as I walked the steep incline to the entrance of Brisbane's The Riverstage (1 May) – the persistent rain that had been falling most of the day clearing to reveal a star-packed night sky – not once for the next 90 minutes did I even think about lockdowns or community-forced restrictions.

Rather, Violent Soho were about to get a massive audience in an outdoor amphitheatre jumping about without a care in the world (while this moment lasted at least) as part of the Summer Sounds Festival series.

As I stood there, with 5,000-plus rock & roll souls (rough guesstimate) bouncing up and down, nodding heads, and raising fisted hands above our shoulders in salute of Mansfield's finest export, it struck me that Violent Soho are quickly becoming, if not already entrenched, as Brisbane's 'it' band, taking the mantle from Powderfinger.

Their discography certainly stacks up against any other would-be contenders: 'We Don't Belong Here' (2008); 'Violent Soho' (2010); 'Hungry Ghost' (2013), 'Waco' (2016) and 'Everything Is A-OK' (2020).

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Image © Clea-marie Thorne

After the opening two songs – 'Like Soda' (from 'Waco') and 'In The Aisle' ('Hungry Ghost' track) – another thought began percolating; similar to how Green Day continue to get better with age, so do Violent Soho.

Their musicianship has continually evolved – from their early punk-rock days where the music was a ferocious blur of DIY aggression to today where the quartet of Luke Boerdam (vocals, guitar), Luke Henery (bass), Michael Richards (drums) and James Tidswell (guitar) strut their wares on festival-size stages with all the associated trappings of a rock & roll show: blinding stage lights, smoke machines saturating the stage, massive speaker stacks, outrageous visuals etc.

More photos from the show.

By the time 'Jesus Stole My Girlfriend' arrived (from their 2008 debut album 'We Don't Belong Here' and 2010 self-titled record) both ideas had congealed together as the crowd gushed along to the chorus: "This time next year I'll be married / This time next year I'll say sorry / But Jesus stole my girlfriend / Jesus stole my girlfriend."

A full year removed from the release of 'Everything Is A-OK', the first album tracks surfaced in the set list with 'Pick It Up Again' and 'Canada' – a couple of power-rock ballads that each have the Violent Soho 'sound' but are intertwined with honest, passionate song writing.

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Image © Clea-marie Thorne

The segue then into 'Hungry Ghost' burner 'Saramona Said' was the perfect complement to the two previous tracks, the band fully embracing the moment for a crazy-good sing-along, not to mention the epic mid-song breakdown that saw the moshing types get busy: phone lights were ablaze, the crowd swaying in unison.

'Fur Eyes' followed with more goosebump-inducing moments, singer Luke Boerdam's nasally vocals straining to be heard above the crowd: "Fur eyes fur eyes / Fur eyes don't feel the earth move."

It made sense that fellow 'Hungry Ghost' track 'Dope Calypso' followed; it was time to get lost in the music, my body thrashed about with utter joy, head banging along as dopamine flooded my blood system. Rock & roll feels were sky-high by this point.

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Image © Clea-marie Thorne

I'll admit the next part of the set was a bit of a blur (the beer was kicking in, new friends were being made with those nearby), but when the opening refrain of 'Covered In Chrome' began, it was time to return one's attention to the stage as "Hell f... yeah / Yeah yeah yeah" cries echoed throughout The Riverstage.

With the 10pm Riverstage curfew speeding towards us, the show was nearing its climax; 'Everything Is A-OK's 'A-OK' highlighted the band's evolvement – a tender, acoustic-flavoured meandering indie rock song showcasing Violent Soho's vulnerable side; it was beautiful to witness and a reminder rock bands don't always need to produce blistering rock anthems to appease their base supporters.

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Image © Clea-marie Thorne

The night then ended with 'Hungry Ghost's 'OK Cathedral' – maybe a surprising choice to end the show, but the crowd didn't seem to mind the melodic grooves. . . the song's final lyrics "I don't ever wanna go / This cathedral is my home / This cathedral is my home" highlighting the fact gathering for live music is our cathedral, one that not even a pandemic can take away.

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