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It was an experience. The crowd was like a single moving organism. At first glance it looked like disorder, pandemonium even, and then I entered the fray. Everyone heaved back and forth in tidal waves of Violent Soho-worship.
A person would burst at the crowd’s horizon and balance for a moment, upside down, sideways, and then sink back into the teeming mass. But, all of this gravity and force was organised, law-like. Despite the washing-machine-chaos, the second someone fell to the ground the revellers that encircled him would pause, and lift him to his feet.
If you wanted to get to the front, you would harden your body and toss it forward. A tarry here and a tarry there and suddenly you arrived. At the front, beer-drenched head-bangers bounced up and down in the sauna-humidity.
All this fever and fandom was directed at the masters of the night, Violent Soho. It was because of their constant emitting of high-octane grunge that the crowd maintained its revel. The boys undoubtedly have a substantial connection with their fans. It must be noted, that only two years ago it would have been an accomplishment for the band to fill a venue like Oxford Art Factory.
But tonight, the venue was packed-to-the-brim sold out. Before they slid under the stage lights, the crowd screamed their name again and again. The lights dimmed and faceless shadows shuffled into their places. The beginning song, Like Soda (the first track from the new album) was met with open-armed celebration as the crowd sung out the lyrics with frontman, Luke Boerdam.
The boys transported us through history as they played songs from their whole catalogue. When Neighbour Neighbour started the mosh pit erupted. The heavy-paced riffage and percussion pulled people from the crowd and flung them into the air like streamers.
Another new track titled, Evergreen, sent the crowd into an even more palsied pack-dance. The song’s rapid ferocity was carried by drummer, Michael Richard’s, who swung his deft hands and sticks across the drums like a cracked composer. A moment has to be taken to recognise the band’s stage presence. Just like us, they became sweat-soaked and crazy-eyed as the music they played possessed them with a pure enjoyment. Even though we were in the mosh and they were on stage, by means of their charisma, everything felt unified.
After Love is a Heavy Word, the crowd seemed to be at peak psychosis. But then Covered in Chrome started and for a moment the crowd dilated and a ‘circle of death’ formed. Fans threw themselves into the centre and flailed and rollicked with their eyes closed. The inch-deep-in-sweat floor provided the perfect, frictionless surface to torpedo yourself into the mayhem. Dope Calypso kept the roughhousing alive. Tinderbox overwhelmed us all.
Basically, Violent Soho’s gig at Oxford Art Factory was f**king brilliant. The band’s live stage presence has evolved into a different kind of beast, rich with energy but technically sharp. They have an undeniably large and growing fan base that is religiously committed to the Violent-Soho-way.
There is no doubt that the band will continue to rise in the Australian music scene. But, I think the most important thing about the night was that it demonstrated that there can be place for us to express us our primal, unadulterated humanity. In the right context, we do not need heavy-handed security guards and draconian lockout laws appropriated from the dark ages. Music is enough.
Listen: Violent Soho – Like Soda