“You guys are so respectful it’s making me nervous."
Before the doors opened tonight at 8pm, a queue threaded down High Street comprising extremely stylish-looking people. Inside, the room fills quickly and by the time Voiid arrive on stage, the room is two-thirds full, and most of us are clustered up by the barrier. Bursting into their set with Not for You, the way the Brisbane four-piece so expertly channel bands from the 1990s, it’s kind of miraculous. Your mileage may vary, but this reviewer heard Hole, Superchunk, Sonic Youth and Veruca Salt and they are never bad things to be reminded of. Anyone who was there in the 1990s watching an extremely honed band that comprise a drummer, bassist, guitarist and a singer, who know how to deploy distortion pedals will barely be able to stop from laughing with joy. The intent behind these songs, at least some of which address social inequality, anxiety and consent, is so refreshingly free of irony that it takes a while to realise that something this fun can also be extremely sincere.
Half way into their set, singer Anji Greenwood takes a moment to create “a respectful pit formation” in the crowd in front of her. “Anyone here on Lexapro?” She asks the crowd to raucous cheers. “Don’t forget to take it.” She says before guitarist Kate McGuire leads the bands into their song of the same name. Later, Greenwood introduces Sour by saying, “This is a song about consent because shit happens too often at shows. If anyone is feeling uncomfortable, tell a security guard or us, and we will kick the douchebag in the face. If anyone wants to talk about shit, message our band page, we’ll always listen.” Voiid sign off with Hell, another blast of brilliant riffs and incendiary drumming from their EP Socioanomaly, and one that you’ll likely hear blasting from a festival stage before the year is out.
“Hello,” says Beach Bunny’s lead singer, guitarist and songwriter, Lili Trifilio. “Thanks for coming. What’s up?” Though she apologises several times throughout her rapturously received show for being so tired, it’s not a state reflected back by the audience. Opening with Weeds, one of the highlights from last year’s album Emotional Creature, the band moves in lockstep between the song’s dynamic shifts. Promises, Good Girls (Don’t Get Used) and Dream Boy follows, song after song, bursting with energy and fluid melodies, structured like screenplays. At first, the combination feels irresistible, especially when the crowd is responding with enough kinetic energy to power a small city. “Thanks for moshing,” Trifilio says. “We’re going to keep this going.” She slashes at her turquoise Fender Stratocaster and leads the band into Cuffing Season and Prom Queen, her TikTok viral sensation that introduced much of the audience to her. As the outro hits, the audience explodes, hands in the air, voices in unison, “I wanna be OK, I wanna be OK.”
“You guys are so respectful it’s making me nervous,” says Trifilio with a smile. “So, I really need to see some dancing and moshing.” She asks us to sit down and then jump up for the beginning of Oxygen, which we, of course, obediently do. She shares slight embarrassment that her next song, Six Weeks, is now eight years old. “I did not think anyone in Australia would hear that shit!” Since then, from sharing her first demo to forming the band to touring her second album, it feels like there has been an odd lack of progression. Not that progression is necessary, of course, but even a winning formula can get formulaic. Every song involves every band member playing all the time. The songs have spaces, and the vocal melodies sound as though they drive the songs, but there is little sense of tension and release or even the use of a different guitar sound to set a song apart. Trifilio’s gift for writing hooks is inarguable but after a while, the high school pep talks and poetic diary entries set to buzzing riffs and drum fills begin to merge. Individual parts, such as the audience sing-along during Sports, the blast of set-closing Painkiller and the encore of Cloud Nine, are good enough to blast any doubts out of this reviewer. “This was a really fun show,” Trifilio says with a winning smile, “and I’m sure we’ll be back some time”. Given the joy etched on the faces of fans as they queue at the merch desk or breathe in the warm night air afterwards, that time can’t come too soon.