Stepping into the VOIID: Sludge Sessions, A Review.

Photo Credit – Joseph Crackett (Only Odd)

VOIID’s Sludge Sessions, a celebration of local punk rock, begins as punk rockers Perve Endings take the stage.  This one night only event at The Foundry has been on my radar for a while now, and I’m eager for my ears to ring by the end of it.  Perve Endings’ solid punk foundation is backed up with catchy choruses and poppy hooks, the keyboard melodies are a welcome addition adding diversity to their memorable tunes.  The three front-woman share vocal duties, each bringing their own flare; bassist Tess shows off her soulful pipes through a cover of The Cranberries’ Zombie.  The band look a little restricted in their set up on stage, I’d love to see a more energetic set from Perve Endings, though their catchy punk tunes set a solid tone for the night ahead.

Byron Bay punkers DickLord take the stage in between my flurry with The Foundry’s finest selection of tallies.   Coming in hot after taking out fourth spot on 4ZZZ’s Hot 100 of 2018, DickLord begin with a thunderous overdriven guitar screaming from the amps, and a blast beat and hard crash of the drums.  Their energy is infectious as the crowd moves to the front of The Foundry.  DickLord are cheeky, especially the front-woman who remarks “I’ve already fucking spilt my beer” after their opening song.  Their drummer is doing a fantastic job smashing the classic hardcore punk drum beats, barely batting an eyelid.  The bass is thick and heavy as it rings in my ears.  The vocalist screams and squeals amongst her fast-paced lyrics.  A punter in front has handed her a policemen’s hat with a dildo strapped to the front.  She is now the dick lord.  Or captain, rather.  This further fuels the fanatic energy on set as the band move through their hardcore punk repertoire.  Heavy breakdowns are a welcome addition, slowing the pace down while still maintaining the heavy, sludgy instrumentation.  The vocalist introduces most of the songs with some anecdotal banter before the fire ignites again.  The dildo hat plays a pivotal role in their song Fellatio, and while their tracks have a humorous and cheeky angle at the forefront, underneath are topical social issues at play.  It’s true punk rock.       

After a short stage swap, VOIID take the stage and immediately begin to play.  The guitar is heavily distorted, the bass is thick and as crisp as Scott Morrison’s white Photoshopped shoes.  Vocalist Anji Greenwood soon walks on stage with the confidence of a seasoned performer.  Their 90s grunge tone mixed with hardcore punk creates a soundtrack I imagine Daria would listen to.  Greenwood articulates her lyrics with a sass and assertion, her eyes roll in the back of her head with a sarcastic charm.  Or maybe it’s just the pre-show Jager-bombs. It’s as if she’s in a character, acting like the stereotypical female performer one minute, and the punk prima donna she was born to be another.  This duality in performance reinforces the socially political meaning behind VOIID’s tracks, especially in their single Silly Girl.    

As the set continues, I’m in awe of Antonia Hickey’s bass skills.  Dressed in a skirt which mimics my ‘punk rock’ checkered volleys from my prepubescent years, her bass riffs punch me in the gut and slap me around the ears.  They are fast and raw, straight from the back catalogue of Black Flag, and fingerpicking her riffs no less.  Fuckin’ kudos.  I’m cocooned in punk rock as VOIID’s sound envelopes me in the corner of the crowd.  My ears are fucked, and my chest is vibrating harder than Melania Trump’s vibrator.  The band treat their captive audience to a cover of Spiderbait’s Calypso.  It’s perfect, as if I’m Julia Stiles reading The Bell Jar on my couch.

By doing anything more than a meagre glance at tonight’s line-up of VOIID’s ‘Sludge Sessions’, you’d pick the obvious.  An all-girl punk band has brought together other female purveyors of the punk arts for a one night only ‘sludge session’, featuring some of the nastiest and grimiest punk rock The Foundry has seen in a long time.  To pick, and focus, on the obvious would serve as a discredit to the bands.  What should be acknowledged is the spark that ignited punk rock is still alight in 2019.  It lives through the politically and socially charged lyrics, most notably from DickLord and VOIID, ignited by the fire, aggression and angst that Bad Brains, Minor Threat and Black Flag showed in punk’s heyday.  Anyone can grab a guitar, a bass, write some fast-changing power chords and crash some cymbals.  They call it punk rock, I call it the slacker-rock epidemic.  What VOIID and their contemporaries do deserves more credit.  It’s aggressive, catchy and socially relevant.  It becomes the fuel we need to combat or reinforce the conscious themes of today.  In the #MeToo/refugee crisis/equal rights era, this is the kind of music we need.  And VOIID are providing it.

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