Quick, how do you turn a 5 date tour into a 17 date tour in just one week? You book two of the biggest names in Australian punk and let them do what they do best. And that’s exactly what happened with these shows featuring Melbournites The Smith Street Band and the mighty Violent Soho. Two acts more than capable of filling the likes of The Hi-Fi with eager punters sharing the same grog soaked stage. Considering the hype for these shows this was set to be one of the musical highlights of the year. And somehow it managed to surpass all expectations.

On the bill for these gargantuan shows are a hefty bunch of local supports. Hell, Melbourne alone has recent SxSW alumni High Tension and ATP favourites White Walls. Tonight is no excepting to the rule, featuring the fantastic Freak Wave heading up the helm. Blaring out like a shoegaze Hot Water Music, the five piece barrel though a hard hitting seven song set. Between dorky dancing, impassioned speeches, and the occasional shout out to the Poison City Crew, Freak Wave provide more than enough reason to polish this gem of Melbourne punk and put it up for all to see. Songs span from all over their discography and flow together with ease, while front man shouts down the quickly building audience. For a band so downtrodden, Freak Wave sure knows how to bring the hype.

By the time The Smith Street Band take the stage; The Hi-Fi is already filled to the brim with punters screaming for the four piece. It’s really not surprising to see this much love for the lads, considering the massive splash they’ve made with all their overseas touring and last years Don’t Fuck With Our Dreams. If you didn’t love the folk-punk act before this show, you’ll definitely have butterflies in your stomach by the time they’ve finished. While there was a relatively quiet moment for the two new songs of the set (rad songs that is), the crowd ate up every occa shout and distorted yet folksy riff. Wagner steals the show with his shear passion, and you can feel how genuine every word is just from tone alone. This changes lines like aforementioned ‘don’t fuck with our dreams’ and ‘I don’t want to die anymore’ from merely a confession to a rallying cry that the crowd picks up in an instant. The band also showed how to deal with a mid-show emergency, stopping the set and parting the crowd until the injured was out of harm’s way. It’s a special little joy when a good band double as good people and Smith Street are some of the best in both those categories. Honestly, it’s difficult to think of a single fault in this performance. The only complaint is with how short the setlist is but considering they’re billed as supports I guess the 45 mins will have to do until album 3 comes out.

But as warm a welcome Smith Wave and Freak Street received, it was nothing compared to the roar Violent Soho got as they hit the stage. Laying siege to eardrums pretty much instantly, they launch into ‘Dope Calypso’ off 2013’s Hungry Ghost. Every part of the +1000 venue is moving, and the first chorus is still to hit. It’s war on the floor, and the mosh is a coliseum. While most of the nights set sticks to the now massive Hungry Ghost, the band gives a shoutout to “everyone who heard of us (Violent Soho) before last year” through older tracks like ‘Tinderbox’ and ‘Jesus Stole My Girlfriend’. If you thought these songs backed a punch on the earlier albums, live they’re like an uppercut to the jaw. Everywhere you look onstage there’s action, which is great since your head never stays in one place for a single second on account of the whole jaw uppercut thing. Somehow, everything Violent Soho touches feels like an anthem.

Aside from some minor mixing problems in Luke Boerdam’s guitar, the sound is crisp as milk bar chips, a fact that would brutalise everyone later on. Halfway through the set a beer bong is pulled out by the bands tour manager (I think, sorry man if it turns out you’re super important and I’m just really bad at noticing that stuff). The beer bong doesn’t leave until the set ends. There is sweat, booze, and the smell of a Cyprus Hill jam sesh everywhere you turn. The Hi-Fi has reached true chaos. And that’s when the opening chords to ‘Covered in Chrome’, Triple J’s 7th favourite song of last year echoes around. As the audience screams “Hell Fuck Yeah!” there’s an odd sense of unity in the room. Be it pride in seeing these lads grow from a Brisbane garage band to a group worthy of a feature in Rolling Stone, the fact that this is a night hundreds of both the fans and the band have been counting down for, or maybe everyone’s slight contact high, one thing is certain. This was the night Violent Soho raised an army.

Cleatus Glob

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