Gig Review: Australia’s Live Punk Scene Is Back With A Riot Grrrl Vengence

Australian femme punk rockers Blussh and Whalehouse have lifted the pandemic blues, with a live show in their hometown, making the most of the Covid-free bubble the country is working hard at maintaining.

Brisbane, Queensland is no stranger to the punk scene with the genre’s very roots taking hold back in 1973 with The Saints arguably its forefathers. While the rest of the world slowly recovers from a life-changing pandemic Australia is one of the countries finding itself bouncing back to a semi-normal state.

Live music is creeping back around the country and bands are beyond excited to be back playing their local venues, wrapping the community in the healing bubble of loud, fast, fun and energetic mayhem.

The city’s popular live music venue The Zoo, saw a night of riot grrrl rebellion with femme punks Blussh and Whalehouse with rockers Ben Tenison as support. Punktuation Magazines Tracey Moyle was there to capture the energetic buzz of the night and join in the hype around these powerful young punk bands.

Whalehouse at The Zoo Photo: © Matt Wallis

The aftermath of the pandemic has changed the live show dynamic, maybe not forever but for now, with the once open mosh pit up front scattered with round tables and barstools.

The crowd are happy sitting or standing just grateful to be a gig.

With the crowd making their way in, Ben Tenison (a trio not one person) opens the show, building the momentum with their brash indie style of garage rock. The welcome vibration of chunky riffs sends a resonance through the room hitting those already settled in for the night. They may not be punk but the band are a drawcard around the Fortitude Valley music scene with popular track Pennylane, Darling hitting all the right notes with the crowd. The band played a good solid set, kicking off the night in the best way. An interesting sidenote – the band title is actually a combination of the members names – Ben, Tenille and Harrison = Ben Tenison.

A great start to the night with the musical contrast.

The changeover sees drinks refilled and lively banter around the room. The Zoo is an old warehouse-style venue with open windows, no air conditioning and a menagerie of ‘zoo animals’ scattered about the open rafters covering the ceiling. The atmosphere is buzzing with fans of Whalehouse, excited to see the girls up and going.

And there is a good reason for this. These girls are fun! Whalehouse are Zoe, Amy-Rose and Sonya and they embrace a style of punk that is solidly based on a ‘don’t give a fuck, let’s just have fun’ attitude. They cite their influences as B52’s, Devo and Blondie and embrace a Nina Hagen style that brings out punks pure essence of unashamedly being yourself.  

With popular tracks on the set list The Bug Song, Sexy Whale Beach Party, Trapped (in my room) and the audience participation rallying the crowd with Fresh Bread the girls know how to get the room jumping. One of the most fun bands we’ve seen around the traps.

More replenishment of refreshments, a quick loo break and heading for a front-row spot ready for Blussh to blow the roof off the room.

Blussh at The Zoo Photo: © Matt Wallis

With Shut Up Becky! opening the show with a raw punk attitude, the crowd forgot about the intrusion of the tall bar tables scattered about and fill the spaces, jumping about, grateful the Covid restrictions have lifted.

Although there are rules, the feeling of being a part of the crowd at a punk show sends a collective energetic wave around the room. Vocalist/Guitarist Kelly Schinkel, dominates, taking control and playing the room with confidence reminiscent of L7’s Donita Sparks.

Blussh at The Zoo Photo: © Matt Wallis

Powering through with a punk ferocity and a big infusion of grunge, they take the crowd through popular tracks including Just Like You, Mental Health and Big Dong. 

They take on Cherry Bomb with a cover The Runaways would be proud of. Heavy riffs and frantic hooks are built around drummer Sophie De Marco’s perfect timing.

It’s all about the bass with Stacey Shinkel’s basslines hitting the fans at their core with their 2020 released tracks Better Than This and Incoming – proving why Brisbane’s very own riot grrrls are drawing a crowd and playing hard fast and loud across the state and the country.

Blussh at The Zoo Photo: © Matt Wallis

Blussh finish their set with Whalehouse joining them on stage for a cover of Blondies, One Way Or Another, taking out the night on a high, giving fans exactly what they wanted when the set out for a live punk show in the music hub of Brisbane, affectionately known as ‘The Valley’.

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