It was anything but a Boys’ Club at The Old Bar for Hysterical Records’ label launch

The sad truth of the music industry is that female and non-binary musicians are often overlooked and underappreciated, especially when it comes to the punk/rock scene, and Hysterical Records are on a mission to put an end to that. The newly founded record label plans to shift the spotlight onto Melbourne’s female and non-binary punk acts, so naturally their official launch at The Old Bar consisted of a lineup showcasing just this. The affair was a blur of glitter, sequins and pastel hair as three back to back girl groups owned the stage, proving that they will never be background music in a man’s world.
Hexdebt were first up, setting the tone for the night with their rambunctious, raucous punk rock. The speakers were blaring with deafening, filthy riffs and thrashing drum beats. All the while, lead vocalist Agnes Whalan alternated between coy, softly sung vocals, screamed verses and spoken lyrics reminiscent of a sassier Courtney Barnett. Their set was chaotic, loud, ferocious, and riddled with unapologetically overt messages, just as punk rock should be.
Shrimpwitch opened their slot with a cacophony of oral percussion, letting the crowd know that things were about to get weird. From the get-go, lead singer Georgi Goonsack cackled, squawked, screamed and howled into the mic, which she juxtaposed with sweet, girlish crooning, backed up by guitarist Kim Prawn’s sultry vocals. The set was comical, fun and full of energy, with Shrimpwitch belting out a slew of instantly loveable bangers such as Minimum Chips, Boyz Will Be Boyz, and Eggs Eggs Eggs.
Last to hit the stage, Wet Lips eased into their set with a more laidback, reserved approach than their predecessors, seeming as nonchalant as if they’d just popped in for a beer and decided to have a jam for the hell of it. They didn’t let the crowd get too comfortable though, quickly upping the ante and getting heads banging with Money;a frenetic smash of sounds perfectly contrasted with all three band members’ beautifully harmonised vocals. Between lead singer Grace Kindellan’s mesmerisingly deep voice, Georgia Maggie smashing the drum kit to pieces and some killer guitar solos, the whole thing had the crowd hungry for more and oh so satisfied at the same time.   
In all, the Hysterical Records’ Label launch was a grand entrance into the biz. The Old Bar was crammed to the brim with the swaying bodies of a crowd that emanated a respectful and supportive atmosphere as the bands delivered a diverse range of punk-fuelled garage rock that not only highlighted their respective creativity but also confirmed that Hysterical Records have got some major talent to unleash.
By Kate Streader
Highlight: The general atmosphere of a room full of appreciative fans and bands who were genuinely stoked about the massive turnout.
Lowlight: Apparently all Melbourne punk fans are giants. I swear to god, every damn person there was at least a foot taller than me.
Crowd Favourite: Shrimpwitch, from start to finish.