At A RedHook Show, The Pre-Show Playlist Is Part Of The Communal Experience

22 May 2023 | 5:00 pm | Mary Varvaris
Originally Appeared In

RedHook clearly understand their audience and the moment.

Photo of RedHook

Photo of RedHook (Source: Supplied)

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Standing in a sold-out Corner Hotel in Melbourne on Saturday night, the excitement in the room was electric. We had witnessed three awesome Aussie bands take the stage – Grenade Jumper, Belle Haven and Bad/Love before it was time for the mighty headliners, RedHook.

But before the Sydney group graced the stage, there was the all-important pre-show playlist, which I’ve never heard get as many singalongs as this one did. First up was the PhaseOne x RedHook cut, Gangrene, which is too new for people to know from the top of their heads, but still got some headbangs.

Then, the magic happened. “CUT MY LIFE INTO PIECES, THIS IS MY LAST RESORT,” hundreds of Melburnians sang to the iconic Papa Roach banger, Last Resort. It was seriously awesome. Of course, this crowd knew more words than that – we shouted “Suffocation/no breathing,” and “Losing my sight, losing my mind/Wish somebody would tell me I’m fine”. Some people even sang along to that guitar riff!

Next up was B.Y.O.B by System Of A Down. You couldn’t help but feel hyped up by that opening guitar lick; how could you not yell “WHY DO THEY ALWAYS SEND THE POOR?B.Y.O.B is a bit too fast in the verses for most of us to sing along with accuracy, but luckily, everyone could chant, “Everybody’s going to the party/Have a real good time/Dancin’ in the desert/Blowin’ up the sunshine”. How could this banger not win a Grammy?

From there, the pre-show playlist launched into Red Wine, Regret by Brisbanites Awaken I Am before we got into Paramore’s That’s What You Get. An eternally popular 2007 emo/pop-punk tune, the Riot! track was irresistible in my corner of the Corner – groups of friends behind us serenaded each other, swinging their arms out and screaming to that wicked chorus. Then it was Freestyler by Bomfunk MCs and one final pre-show song that got the largest – and most unexpected – singalong of the pre-show playlist.

The last song before RedHook took the stage was Kelly Clarkson’s 2004 Best Female Pop Vocal Performance Grammy-winning song Since U Been Gone. Everybody in that room – and I mean everyone – got straight into it. “Here’s the thing/We started out friends…”, who doesn’t know that opening line? Then, the shouts that people might had been waiting 19 years to scream: “SINCE YOU BEEN GONE/I CAN BREATHE FOR THE FIRST TIME/I’M SO MOVING ON/YEAH, YEAH/THANKS TO YOU/NOW I GET WHAT I WANT”.

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I’ve never paid much attention to pre-show playlists – I always appreciate hearing a song I know and like, but I had never experienced crowd singalongs to a playlist like this. Last month, Escape The Fate blasted Bohemian Rhapsody before taking the stage, getting the entire crowd to sing every single word. That’s a clever pre-show song.

But with RedHook’s pre-show playlist, they clearly understood their crowd – a bunch of audience members in their late twenties/early thirties who are into rock, metal, punk, emo and everything in between – and the moment. RedHook know what’s happening in the music world right now – they’ve seen Paramore gain a writing credit on Olivia Rodrigo’s good 4 u and witnessed Machine Gun Kelly and Demi Lovato embrace pop-punk.

They listen to bands like Wolf Alice, where no two tracks sound the same on their three albums – heavy and dark, light and ethereal are equally represented. RedHook don’t bank on the nostalgia millennials have for early 2000s music, but instead tests the crowd, almost demanding: "Can you sing along to this? Well, you better sing along to our songs, too."

And we did. RedHook inspired massive singalongs to Soju (and raised middle fingers during the chorus), Jabberwocky – in a moment that left vocalist Emmy Mack visibly emotional, and Bad Decisions.

The Sydney band ripped through bangers from their debut album, Postcard From A Living Hell, as well as some older tunes. For an hour, they displayed the kind of agility, fun, and emotional catharsis that their pre-show playlist offered. If you’re a band looking at your pre-show playlist right now, add I Write Sins, Not Tragedies for the emo adults in your audience.