In an extremely unorthodox approach for a hard rock act, opening support band Wolves appeared with a female violinist supporting the traditional guitar, drums and bass arrangement. She seemed to act as a rhythm section, however her impact was limited by a wall of bass and guitar; her violin only being audible in the intros. Solid performance, but all eyes were on the hugely anticipated acts to come.
Melbourne prog-rockers Closure In Moscow took to the stage with huge confidence, mostly in the form of overly-zealous lead singer Chris de Cinque, draped in his trademark gold cape, starting plenty of risqué banter for the warm up. Closure came off as quite shaky for the first few songs, which I could very easily put down to their recent band member shuffle, having evicted their prolific drummer Beau McKee who mastered the insanely complex beats on their killer debut First Temple and former bassist Brad Kimber. Vibing off the huge hype of First Temple, they stuck to the classics, and pumped out absolutely huge, heaving, technical tracks like Kissing Cousins, Vanguard, Afterbirth and Acrecibo Message to the delight of a select few audience members. Once they are in stride, Closure In Moscow are a wall of energy and with the technicality of their music, sometimes it’s hard to keep up, in particular the constant shredding, screaming guitars and complex and ever-changing drum beats. Having seen them off the back of their album release with the former line-up, I am extremely objective, particularly of the new drummer, but they played a massive set and warmed up the crowd to a tee, closing with Sweetheart. Hopefully new material is in the pipeline soon!
Exuberating confidence being fresh off the back of a month long US tour, a headline UK tour, and a massive record deal in the US; Dead Letter Circus brought their unique breed of progressive rock to the packed Manning Bar stage. Opening with hugely energetic track The Mile off their debut self-titled EP, they had the mosh pit bouncing and moving from the very beginning. A very noticeable trait of DLC is their stage presence. Each member exudes a huge amount of energy, but they each have their own personas and style. Bassist Stewart Hill is an absolute monster on his equally monstrous bass (which looks identical to Karnivool bassist Jon Stockman's 6 string beast, only 1 string less, and emits an equally heavy sound) thrashing head and torso. Singer Kim Benzie is the soothing centre of emotional control of the band, standing tall and projecting his incredible voice over the crowd, changing the mood with his incredible vocal range. Drummer Luke Williams was an absolute animal on his kit, bringing a huge energy, with the beats he constructed on debut LP This Is The Warning.
DLC had the entire mosh pit heaving by the 3rd song; Benzie encouraged the mayhem throughout, with circle pits breaking out in the claustrophobic Manning enclosure, and plenty of violent moshing going down. Benzie had the crowd in the palm of his hand, and the crowd were completely immersed in the music screaming lyrics of every song to the sheer delight of the band. It was one of those rare performances where the band and the audience are in complete harmony and vibe off each other’s pulsating energy. DLC came off as heavily experienced rockers (having a 6 year history), performing every song with painstaking accuracy, and adding a huge live presence to their songs. Veteran DLC supporters were treated to Alien, Disconnect And Apply, Lines and The Mile off their debut self-titled EP, which gained a huge reception. The more recent tracks to gain huge attention on Triple J; One Step and Cage, were played with flawless edge, showing off the vocal prowess of Benzie, hitting incredible highs which were both intimate and brooding which turned to pure aggression in the choruses. Heavier songs Here We Divide and Next In Line were separated by an encore, thank Thor, since the mosh went completely insane for the wall of guitar and bass backed by a double kick and monstrous breakdowns.
In a special appearance, MM9 front man Daniel Sutherland joined the band onstage to add a second layer of drums to the finale This Is The Warning, which proved to be a political backdrop for the band's NO FRACKING WAY environmental fight against unsafe mining of coal seam gas in suburban areas. The finale This Is The Warning progressed into a 4-way tribal drum which had a huge energy and proved to be the icing on one of the most epic live shows I've witnessed. DLC have proved they are now in the presence of Australian prog-rock greats alongside Karnivool, Cog and Butterfly Effect. To Give you an idea of their intensity and energy in a live arena, check out the amazing clip for One Step below, filmed completely backwards. Like their not already talented enough!
In DLC related news; according to the band's website, the US release of DLC's latest record This Is The Warning will push the release of their new album back about a year, so expect a July 2012 drop for new material. As for the direction, lead singer Benzie stated "I think we’re kind of in a cyborg half-human, half-robot stage at the moment. Yeah, I definitely think we could (be going in an electronic direction). We’re leaning toward a bigger, fatter sound, rather than just the guitars" in an interview with Scott Sugarman for RockEdition.com
Karnivool proved once again they are the absolute epitome of hard rock in Australia right now. Their music is just so technically amazing, analysing each band member in a live setting just astounds me to the depths of their ability. Coming to the roundhouse armed with a swag of old and new, Karnivool played a killer set drawn from Persona, Themata and Sound Awake and including a new song which gives an idea of the direction they will take in their future work. Ian Kenny was in his zone, creating incredible build ups with his voice, which can be so incredibly intimate, during the song Change Part 2, and brooding and aggressive during Roquefort, to pure aggression in Themata. With a rhythm section as tight as ever, led by Drew Goddard, and the emphatic Steve Judd on drums, they punched out a wall of noise to which intense headbanging was the only option. Being an avid fan of Karnivool since Persona, my love for their music has grown emphatically over the years with Themata and Sound Awake, which I may add I listened to alone for a month straight! I am incredibly eager for new music from these guys, and Ian Kenny's heavy involvement and touring with his successful side project Birds of Tokyo slows the process monumentally. Not to mention the heavy touring schedule of the US, UK and Europe of Karnivool. Here's a video of their new song recorded live. This song is pretty dark, and incredibly fast and technical which may hint a movement towards a heavier sound:
In terms of their technical ability, noone in Australian music comes close. Themata was the brainchild of lead guitarist Drew Goddard, who actually played drums in recording Themata, which resulted in a heavy, angry guitar and bass driven sound most evident in songs like Themata, Roquefort, Lifelike, and Scarabs. However other songs on the record such as Cote, Fear Of The Sky and Mauseum gave us a deeper insight into the band's ability, with clean harmonic build ups to demonic break downs, and hard hitting choruses. These songs showed the ability of Karnivool to change the mood from serenity to pure aggression. Their second release, Sound Awake took this songwriting process to another level, with the band utilising a more collaborative effort with all band members contributing more evenly. The change was very noticeable, with no loss in the heaviness that accompanied Themata, but a clear difference in terms of each musicians individual presence in each song. With the depth of talent that Karnivool posesses, they couldnt go wrong! Steve Judd finally exerted his own influence on the songs, introducing a heavy polyrhythm with odd time singatures across many tracks on the record, my favourites being Simple Boy, Set Fire To The Hive, Goliath, and The Caudal Lure; all just technically brilliant! Bassist John Stockman and his beastly 6-string stand out on Goliath, Simple Boy, and Set Fire To the Hive. The guitar pairing of Drew Goddard and Mark Hosking are heavy as always, bringing a new dimension to Karnivool's songs, Set Fire To The Hive is an absolute beast of a song; the speed and aggression brings forth something entirely different I have ever heard before. The song that sums up Karnivool's heightened collaboration is present in the song Change Part 2, which is just an absolute smorgasboard of sound, and incorporates delightful harmonies, delicate build ups, and smashing break downs and the outro..my god! Karnivool closed with this song on Saturday and the outro drum beat was all i could hear in my head for hours afterwards! For your listening pleasure, click below: