Published on theMusic.com.au, Aug 2015
Infusing pop-punk riffs and rock melodies, Californian outfit Versus The World are a band that formed ten years too late.
Their songwriting and performance rivalled some of the best artists in the genre, but they exist in era where the Fat Wreck community in which the headline act lives largely isn’t looking to invest the time to make a lasting emotional connection. The result is a band doing it for no other reason than a love of the music, and it showed. As the band spun hits off their latest album, Homesick/Roadsick— guitar parts dancing around the room to upbeat bass, drums and vocals — punters were transported to a simpler time and were more than warmed up for the main event.
Harmonica and classical guitar floated out on a bed of bass for Good Riddance‘s intro, and the band let the feedback roar before hardcore-punk anthem 30 Day Wonder saw frontman Russ Rankin gravitate to the stage. Instant comradery seized the room and everyone was united as the Santa Cruz band dished out the perfect blend of punk and hardcore. It was hard to believe it was only their second time in Perth. Relentless, tight punk drums and trashy guitar with punk rock vocals sung with a gritty edge were the perfect recipe for an instantly engaging and captivating live band. Through all the musical chaos and crowd interaction, the political themes that imbue Rankin’s lyrics shone bright, making them all the more powerful and inspiring.
It wasn’t all balls-to-the-wall ’90s skate-punk, though, and the more rhythmic hits, such as Darkest Days, gave the set refreshing diversity. “Where’s the fucking money, Keith?” a punter yelled between songs, quoting a sample from the band’s 1999 record Operation Phoenix. “That’s either impressive or kind of scary,” Rankin laughed. The jokes continued: “So what’s been happening since the last time we were here?” A long pause was ended by the frontman casually dropping the name of the Prime Minister: two words that incite shame among many at a punk show.
Instant pop-punk classic, 1995’s Mother Superior, proved that even though Good Riddance broke up in 2007 for several years, the fans didn’t stop listening for a second, a fact reinforced by the response from this year’s Half Measures single, off the band’s April release, Peace In Our Time. It may have been the final show of this tour and a Wednesday night at that, but that didn’t stop what some would dub the best punk rock show of the year from unfolding.