Punks of Melbourne unite! El Riot! Festival is coming to supply all your destructive punk rock needs

Trust a punk band to get carried away. It started with a just a friendly little single launch for Melbourne punk rockers Red Light Riot, but the event soon escalated into a full blown festival! Hosted at The Tote Hotel in Collingwood, the inaugural El Riot! Festival will happen in Melbourne on May 21, and features a full line up of fifteen bands over the day. Including Red Light Riot themselves, the festival hits all your major punk rock pressure points; from stoner, emo, riot grrrl and hard rock, through to grunge, post punk and good ol’ rock ’n’ roll.


Punk in its many forms will be alive and spitting fire at the inaugural El Riot! Festival. The punk party is set to destroy eardrums everywhere.

Red Light Riot themselves are most easily pinned as punk rock, as they extol the high energy and thrashed out melodic anarchy of the genre. Though with influences like hard rock and original punk, the band are better left undefined. Formed in 2013, Red Light Riot was born out of the wide spectrum of rock and hardcore – listening to their catalogue thus far, you catch touches of vintage Iggy Pop, Misfits, Black Flag through to Hole and Fugazi. As such, they are well placed to curate El Riot!

According to founding member Nina von Johannsohn, the confirmed line up is comprised of “bands who inspire us, who clearly rock the hardest in the Melbourne music scene and, of course, who make you wanna riot! These bands have been hand picked as they put all of their blood, sweat, beer and angst into tearing up the stage, leaving audiences gob smacked.” Topping the bill will be Dead City Ruins, fresh from recording their latest studio album. Originally spawned in London before making Melbourne their home, they can count Skid Row’s Dave “The Snake” Sabo amongst their fans; “…they’re just these young, broke kids who don’t give a fuck except to play music in front of people. I love it and it’s inspiring on a daily basis. That’s the spirit of rock and roll in those kids”.

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Also featuring Tasmania’s forest horror outfit Captives, who will be performing with a new brass section. Plus native Melbourne punk philanthropists Wolfpack, returned from touring the USA – one of very few not-for-profit bands around, who have raised over $20,000 for various charities over the last few years. Hardcore veterans Suiciety will bring their original status to El Riot! as well. Returning after an extended sabbatical, the boys are back with new material and new energy for their first live shows since 1996.

Jostling amongst these are also a good number of newer bands, making El Riot! one of the best venues to catch up on the current state of punk rock in Melbourne. Coffin Wolf will be bringing their lacerated vocal chords and bass ridden speed rock, a counterpoint to Laura Palmer’s messy pop punk – all pummelling drums and chugging riffs. With a few years behind them, The FckUps aren’t so new but are more than worth checking out as they peddle a superb kind of rage through doom infused hardcore.

And whoever said that women have no place in punk can probably fuck right off from El Riot! (possibly along with a drumstick somewhere it really shouldn’t be). Red Light Riot are not the only female fronted band on the line up, newcomers Little Lamb & The Rosemary’s rock harder than most. With no better description than the one they offer themselves, “Little Lamb & the Rosemary’s are a four piece Melbourne band, If Courtney Love and Kathleen Hannah had a child and that child decided to have a baby with Marilyn Manson you would find Little Lamb & the Rosemary’s somewhere in the middle. We are Clamcore and we love doll parts!”.

Not forgetting the catalyst for this whole event, El Riot! is still the venue for Red Light Riot’s single launch for In Shadows. Available online May 15, In Shadows is “a dark and dynamic bass driven, scream driven song about the atrocities of civilian victims of war past and present”. The single’s b-side, Burn The Axis, is an anarchic finger up to a society that instills a belief that we are not good enough. Challenging those rules of how we should live and what we should believe, Red Light Riot will incite you to “Break free and burn the axis!”.

Tickets to the festival are now available to buy, some may be available of the door on the day, but no guarantees! Kicking off at 3pm at The Tote, bands will take the stage between 4pm and 12.30am in both the main room and upstairs. In true festival style, merchandise will also be available to purchase from the official ‘Punx n Pinups’ punk rock store. Let everyone know you’ve sold your soul to rock ’n’ roll with punk clothing and accessories, or official band merch. Whether they will accept your soul as payment, I can’t say. I imagine it will be cold hard cash, but it’s worth a try – and definitely worth the money if your immortal spirit won’t quite cover it. And that leaves you free to give yourself up, body and soul, to the punk rock spirit of El Riot!

Grab your tickets here.