Photos by Ainsley and Elke
Back when you were nine, parties were memorable. You could steal a box of matches and set a pile of leaves on fire, piss on them, and be talking about it for months. Then you become an adult and parties start to suck. Nobody’s wearing any costumes anymore and the closest you get to face painting are the under aged girls trying to pass security.
System Corrupt (SYCO) is a collective that helps you feel like a kid again. They throw these illegal parties in abandoned spaces where everyone seems to be yearning for that same chaos, that feeling like mum’s left the room, let’s go smoke some toilet paper in the bathroom.
The music they play and release on their own label mirrors that sensation. It could be anything from a fucked up remix of Nelly to utter noise-core (which member Al Corrupt describes as “the sound of bricks spinning in a burning tumble dryer”).
When I ask live act Mute Freak about his favourite SYCO party, he gets so excited he has to offer the couple behind us 70 cents for a cigarette. “Personally,” he begins, exhaling, “it’s got to be that black metal Halloween party in those underground bunkers. That was fucked up.”
I remember this party. It was in one of those disused army trenches by the sea built to protect us from the Japanese. The bunkers are a pitch black mass of underground tunnels and chambers, covered in satanic graffiti and spew. “Probably the most unsavoury place a human being could be in,” Freak says. “There was even a burning pig’s head.”
The police eventually discovered the hovel. They weren’t prepared for the scene before them. “When they busted in there was just this look of horror on their faces,” Freak says. “150 people dressed like corpses losing their minds to the most fucked up beat-ridden music ever to come out of speakers. They just asked us not to kill each other and left.”
As well as making music, member Zeitgeist is involved in the SYCO radio program on Sydney’s 2SER and runs her own vinyl sub label. Though she’s in her 30s, she could pass for 12. With the pink tufts coming out of her shaved head and her boyfriend’s overcoat she looks like a cabbage patch doll dressed as Siouxie Sioux.
Toecutter, another member, explains their modus operandi. “I just want to irritate people,” he says. “There was nothing exciting going on in Sydney, nothing really subversive.”
Out of this frustration comes Suicidal Rap Orgy, a group barely out of their teens who sound like Leatherface from Texas Chainsaw Massacre fronting The Sugarhill Gang. I saw them spend an entire show sliding down a plastic slippery dip into a kid’s pool of red juice wearing nothing but paper machei masks. The female MCs wrestled beneath a guy hanging upside down from a rope jungle gym, rhyming “your face is my toilet / I’ll rip your dick off / shove it up my ass.”
As more and more people turn up to the parties, SYCO aren’t thinking of cashing in. The events are still 100% free. Advertising still consists of photocopied pornographic collages. You still have to kill yourself on barbed wire and glass to get to the venue. You still leave stinking of burnt bacon. “We’ve been working against the system,” Toecutter says. “Success means you’ve become part of it. If it’s bound to ripen, it’s bound to rot.”