"Everything they play is high-energy and crunchy."
Plovers kick the night off with energy, style and power stances for days. They’re super tight, with vocalist Jared Chappell giving us catchy melodies to sing along to about relatable topics like (I Don’t Want To) Get It Together and Not Australian, an extremely topical bop. Their brand of rock is loud, fun, and bass-heavy, and they’re charmingly into the performance side of things - it’s a welcome refrain from the typical Melbourne-blasé attitude. They cover Devo’s Uncontrollable Urge, which is ballsy, but they pull it off.
Next on this killer line-up is Varsity Cheerleader. They begin their set with the line, “Hi, we’re Smash Mouth and this is our first show,” so obviously they’re already winning. What follows is a solid pop-punk influenced set with drawling vocals and classic power chords. They sound like the soundtrack to an alternative teen film from the ‘90s. The songs are both familiar and fresh.
Moody Beaches take the stage, and if there’s any Australian band that can match the sheer talent and energy of headliner Screaming Females, it’s Moody Beaches. Their stage presence is understated, but that doesn’t affect the huge sound they build with surfy vocal harmonies and chunky guitar riffs. Drummer Julia Watt is a standout performer of the night - so fast, and her fills fly over the music.
It’s finally time for Screaming Females, and they absolutely do not disappoint. Marissa Paternoster is just as powerful live as she is recorded, both in her giant, unique vocal style and her face-melting guitar playing. With a set spanning old and new songs, and a packed-out Tote audience, they kick straight into it. Ripe from their 2015 album, Rose Mountain, is a particular Black Sabbath-esque standout, but everything they play is high-energy and crunchy, Paternoster’s dark hair flipping around her head as she solos, rivalling any of the guitar greats. Drummer Jarrett Dougherty and bassist Mike Abbate provide the heaviest of backing, with interesting bass chords filling out the sound. They go hard - the only respite during the set is moments when they pull it back to basics so Paternoster can shred over the top. The solitary encore song I’ll Make You Sorry from their latest album, All At Once, harkens back to their more grungy beginnings, and as Paternoster stares into the crowd and belts it out, it feels like whoever it was written for has truly made a mistake.