LIVE: Bon Iver, live at the Sydney Opera House, Sydney (11-03-12)

Bon Iver

As Bon Iver took to the stage, they were welcomed with rapturous applause – and deservedly so. For Emma, Forever Ago won across an initial horde of devoted fans, and their latest album, Bon Iver, Bon Iver, was received incredibly well – so much so that it won the band a Grammy. Bon Iver have gone from strength to strength, and the excitement in the air was palpable.

The band took no time in launching into the appropriate opener of “Perth”. The first notes rang sharply throughout the hall, and to be honest – it felt a bit strange. After being so accustomed to the softer nuances of these tracks on record, to hear them explode forth and completely fill the Opera House was something else entirely.

But – apart from the rare moment where it seemed slightly too loud – it worked. Really well.

The nine musicians on stage changed instruments on a regular basis, but none of them ever faltered or missed a step. Saxophones, violins, horns and even a trombone were all present, all contributing to the musical landscape that formed over the night. I was sceptical about needing two drum kits at first, but even they proved their worth, providing a powerful intensity when needed (not to mention those jaw-dropping off-beats!). Having so many people on stage could have gone badly for Bon Iver, but the expansive majesty that came with it paid off.

However one of the most impressive instruments was one of the most natural. Justin Vernon’s voice is a thing to behold. What really stands out is the emotive force behind it, that can shift everything in a single moment. Lines like “Oh and we done it, because it’s right,” from the achingly beautiful “Wash.” took on an entirely new life, being forced out of Vernon’s mouth in the most uncontrollably cathartic way possible. His falsetto was pristine and rang out, and to say we were in awe would’ve been an understatement.

Bon Iver

Midway through the set, a seat was brought out for Vernon, and a crew member adjusted his mic. “These guys put my underwear on in the morning too,” he joked, before beginning what was arguably one of the most anticipated songs of the night – “Skinny Love”.

I was concerned that the frail, tender nature of the song might be crushed under the weight of nine musicians. But hearing the band bellow “my, my, my” in unison with Vernon was one of the most warming and memorable moments of the night. It almost felt as if they took on our role as the audience – for if this were a festival set, there’s no doubt that each and every one of us would have been singing along. But “Skinny Love” wasn’t the only song to have noticeable differences.

A mighty saxophone solo from Colin Stetson segued into the beginning of “Blood Bank”, which took on a much more direct and assertive approach. The slow-burning, delicate love song from the EP of the same name was transformed into a stronger and much more driven piece.

Credit must be given to the band for managing to adapt so many songs, some ever so slightly, to a new environment. However that’s not to say that they’ve lost their initial charm. Those of you that fell in love with the alluring subtleties of For Emma, Forever Ago will still find that connection live, just in slightly different places. Dynamically the band know exactly when to draw back, and when to burst forth, and it’s this that allows everything to fall into place.

After performing works from across their three main releases (“Wash.” and a solo version of “re: Stacks” being definite highlights), Vernon asked the crowd to join him during the final song of the night – and while it seemed odd to have to request participation in a moment like this, it felt necessary at a venue like the Opera House. The audience seemed to have far too much reverence – for fellow concert-goers, for the venue, and for Bon Iver – to spontaneously sing at the top of their lungs (although it didn’t stop some from holding up their phones for long periods). Maybe that’s why their efforts sounded so reluctant. Nevertheless, “The Wolves (Act I and II)” sounded magnificent, with the crowd repeating “What might’ve been lost” over a monumental finish.

Everyone was quick to stand as all nine musicians lined the stage, and applause filled the hall. Collectively, the crowd’s response seemed not only thankful for the amazing set we’d just witnessed, but also demanding of more. My generation has grown up to expect encores – not to be pleasantly surprised by them – and there was no way Bon Iver were getting away without one.

After some time, the band returned and the applause instantly subsided as people sat down again in anticipation. They then launched into “Creature Fear”, which built up to an immense wall of dissonant sound. Much like “The Wolves (Act I and II)”, the huge release of energy felt like an apt place to end the set – but we were in for one last song. Thanking the crowd once more, the band began to close the night with the slow dusty brass of “For Emma” –  again, earning a standing ovation.

It’s more important than ever that I now refer to Bon Iver collectively as a band. No longer is it just Vernon at the helm of this ship. The addition of other musicians added another element to their second album, it certainly adds a welcome element to their live show – and I’d like to think that it’s a form of the band that will stick around, because it sounded nothing short of astounding.

To witness such intrinsically beautiful music performed in the Opera House was a privilege. And while Bon Iver may not believe that they’re magnificent – everyone at the Opera House on Sunday most certainly does.

~

Check out some of the great photos taken by Music at the House over here on Facebook.


LIVE: The Living End, live at ANU Bar, Canberra (07-09-11)

There’s no doubt about it: The Living End still have it.

On Wednesday night I relived my first ever gig. Just over five years ago I saw The Living End at the Albury Wodonga Civic Centre – they were touring their then freshly pressed album State of Emergency. As a three-piece, their performance set the bar for years to come. It’s nice to see nothing’s changed.

King Cannons opened the night, blasting through the quickly growing crowd with their hard-edged catchy rock. Although their sound builds itself on pop hooks, don’t be fooled – these guys have got it in them to bring the house down. Although I rarely mention this aspect of a band, you’ll struggle to find a more consistently fashionable group – with black shirts, slick hair, and tattoos aplenty, they not only sounded great, but they looked the part.

Hunting Grounds filled the stage with their band, and it was interesting to see them swap instruments and roles over the course of their set. Without a doubt, their explosive rock really came to fruition with the final song – drums being smashed, a guitarist in the photo pit, a beaten up cymbal being thrown around, and some drumstick duelling all made it an amazing closer. Like King Cannons, they have live energy and talent – it’d be nice to see both bands go somewhere further in the future.

The Living End took to the stage, and surprisingly I didn’t break any ribs against the barrier in the “surge”. Well, it wasn’t so much a crowd surge as a gentle push. Not that I was complaining, but the crowd did take a little while to warm up.

Which got me thinking about the kind of band TLE are. The first songs were from their latest album, The Ending Is Just The Beginning Repeating, and don’t get me wrong – the reception for them was great, but it was still lukewarm relative to old favourites like “West End Riot” and “Roll On”.

“No kidding”, you’re thinking. “Generally people know a band’s older songs, of course there’s going to be a stronger reception.”

Well, that might seem logically right, but it’s not always true. There are plenty of bands that release a new album, get flogged by radio, and most will only know those songs. Everyone knows “White Noise” got one hell of a flogging. But despite that, TLE are still different. We had 99% of a room screaming along to tracks like “Prisoner of Society” and “All Torn Down”, both of which were released years and years ago.

Does this mean their albums are getting worse? No, of course not. But it shows that The Living End are one of the few contemporary Australian bands that have written songs that generations will consider “classics”. This is a band with longevity, who have paid their dues and toured relentlessly. This is a band who consistently draw all sorts of people to their gigs – from teenagers to adults who’re over 50. Plenty of bands can write decent hooks and memorable songs – only a rare few can write classics that stay with a generation for years upon years.

And only a rare few can play their songs so damn well! Chris Cheney commands the stage like a seasoned veteran, and his guitar is played so effortlessly it’s like another limb. Andy and Scott tear through their respective parts, and as proficient as the band is, you can’t deny the work they’re putting into the performance when they’re sweating all over the stage.

The Living End are not only skilled musicians, but skilled showmen – they all know how to present themselves on stage and get the most out of their music. This latest tour has seen another guitarist, Adrian, playing live, and he’s a welcome addition – he really does seem to flesh out the band’s sound.

There are few bands of this calibre. The Living End set the bar for music fans, inspire musicians, and are good at what they do – let’s hope they stick around for many years to come.

I didn’t take many photos. You can check out some nice ones over at FasterLouder though.

FEATURE: Gig Etiquette

We may not be able to fix global warming or poverty just yet, but the world would be a slightly nicer place if people followed these simples rules while attending gigs.

1. Plan your arrival time based on your height.

This might be harsh, but if you’re short and worried about not seeing, you have two choices: either arrive early and get a good spot, or suck it up. Positioning at a gig is equal playing ground – first in, best dressed. The fact that you’re short does not override the fact that I’ve waited for hours and lined up for a top spot. Chances are, I’m a huge fan of the band too.

That said, if you’re taller you can show some sympathy and be nice. On most occasions I’m not too bothered to let someone short in front of me. But don’t go to a gig and assume it’s your right to be able to push in front. It’s not.

And no, do not pull that bullshit excuse of “you’re tall, you can still see if you go second row”. There is a huge difference between the barrier and second row, especially in a lively crowd where you’re being thrown around.

2. Don’t be a sloppy drinker.

You know what? I actually don’t want your beer thrown over me, funnily enough. Nor do I want it in my hair, on my shirt, or all over my shoes. Keep it in your glass thanks.

3. Be polite.

If I offer you my spot against the barrier, say “thank you”. Don’t pull a face like I should’ve offered earlier.

Same goes for anything else where general manners come into play. If you accidentally elbow or land on someone – apologise. Use common sense.

4. Don’t act like a gorilla on cocaine.

People go to a gig ’cause they wanna enjoy live music. Don’t flail your arms around and barge into people, especially if you’ve got a larger build. Seeing huge (usually drunk) guys lumbering around the mosh and ruining the night for people who are smaller is pretty disgusting. By all means mosh and jump around, but don’t do it at the expense of others.

5. Watch out for people around you.

See someone get knocked down? Help them up, don’t just leave them on the floor. Someone can’t breathe against the barrier? Let a security guard know.

You know what I’m talking about. Act like a bro towards people you’ve never met – some day you could be in their spot.

6. Shut your talk-hole.

Sure, you can chat with your mates, but don’t insist on yelling to your friends throughout the whole gig when people are trying to listen to music. Especially if it’s an acoustic act. No one needs to hear about your visit to the dentist last week.

7. Follow basic hygiene conventions.

Wear deodorant and keep your shirt on. It’s natural to sweat during a gig, especially in a tight crowd, but that doesn’t mean I want you to cover me in it. Deodorant will help cover the stench of pure evil too.

8. Dress appropriately.

There are very few gigs where huge handbags and stupid hats are appropriate. And yes – that’s also a no for heels. Partly because I don’t want you rolling an ankle, but mainly because I don’t want you breaking my freakin’ toes. Just wear something normal and practical.

9. Unless you have a media pass, you are not a professional photographer.

I don’t have to move aside so you can use a big camera to take nice pictures. By all means, take a couple (I take a two or three on my phone for reviews), but let’s be honest – unless you’re in the photographers’ pit, your photos are going to be sub-par compared to what you’ll find on a professional site.

Mosh pits can be rough. Bringing an expensive camera is plain risky. But no matter what you’re using, don’t hold it up all night – it’s ridiculously annoying. Put it away and enjoy the gig, yeah?

10. Don’t be a dick.

If these are too much to remember, just keep this one in mind and you should be fine.

Thanks to the contributions from Electric Skeleton, And Pluck Your Strings, Sabi’s Aus Music Blog, and Wasting Time.

LIVE: The Bedroom Philosopher, live at Transit Bar, Canberra (28-08-11)

Like an elephant running rampant through a tennis court, The Bedroom Philosopher demands your attention – because, like that image he’s quite funny, but also because you just aren’t sure what the hell is going to happen next.

Walking into the room with a guitar, he provided some dramatic music for two guys playing pool (incidentally the guy missed his shot). He then began snapping his fingers and strumming along, before pulling a shaker out of his mouth. Then pulling a party whistle out of his mouth, he proceeded to play it as well. It set the mood for a set filled with the sorts of antics most artists either look down upon, or are too scared to try themselves, and that’s really what sets him apart as both a comedian and a musician.

What’s particularly astounding is Justin Heazlewood’s unique brand of absurdist humour. In terms of jokes, anything goes, and any number of toes are guaranteed to be trodden on. Belconnen Labor Club, University of Canberra, and the crowd’s attempts at clapping along were all on the agenda for the night, and it was great to see everyone take it in good humour.

It was unfortunate that I failed to pick up a lot of what he was singing, and the lyrical talent I know he has failed to translate on the night. Maybe it was my position off to the side, but it felt like a lot of it was mumbled. Fortunately when you go to see The Bedroom Philosopher, you get a great deal more in a gig.

His mash-up of hits “I’m So Post Modern” and “Northcote (So Hungover)” was particularly well done, as was his impromptu rant and song aimed at the guy sitting with his back to him. When said bar patron decided to join Mr Heazlewood on stage I did worry a little, but it turned out he just wanted to stand up there with him. There may have been a hug involved, I can’t quite remember.

When it all boils down to it, The Bedroom Philosopher is both quick-witted and insightful, and as catchy as his songs are, what puts him above similar artists is how amusing and unpredictable his performance is. The sort of rare self-deprecating humour in his act is something that can only be off-set by the reading of a touching poem about depression on a packet of Cheerios (which he also offered to the audience).

The Bedroom Philosopher is not only mesmerising, but in a way that other acts most definitely are not. Without pushing his point, you can take what you want from his art – but no matter how you see it, you’ll definitely be entertained.

LIVE: The Panda Band, live at ANU Bar, Canberra (17-08-11)

Continuing my accidental streak of missing the opening support act, I didn’t catch Paryce’s set. Instead, Beth ‘N’ Ben (above) started the night for me with their brand of bluesy folk. It spread throughout the sparse onlooking crowd, and although there was a small turnout, it was offset by the band’s encouragement to get lost in the music – an offer which was all the encouragement most people needed to dance and cheer. It’s surprising how often a band’s attitude can affect the atmosphere of a gig, and the playful banter between a few members really proved to lighten the mood. Importantly, the band looked like they were having fun too.

Beth ‘N’ Ben don’t burden their music with cliched literary techniques, instead focusing more on simply telling a story. Unfortunately that’s where they seem to fall short. I feel like that writing style needs to be coupled with those special hooks that throw the song up in the air. That special moment that gets the whole crowd participating, almost anthemic in nature, and it just didn’t feel like there were many opportunities for that on Wednesday. They seem to be gradually nailing that musical niche they occupy, but it would bring so much more to their live show to see their song-writing grow with that in focus. That said, they were entertaining to watch, and let’s be honest, there aren’t many bands that sell g-strings and bibs as merchandise.

The Panda Band took the stage shortly afterwards, and I want to address an issue before I talk about their set.

I felt that in terms of acoustics or sound quality, their set suffered. Even standing as far back as possible due to the overbearing volume, it still felt uncomfortable, and although I should have remembered my earplugs, no band needs to be that loud. Whether it was the acoustics of ANU bar, or the sound set up, the band sounded clearer and more enjoyable when I blocked my ears. This was no fault of the band, but it did influence my enjoyment a bit.

Apart from that, I found their playing quite enjoyable, but their performance itself a little lacklustre. They looked a little bored, almost as if they didn’t want to be there, and although I can understand the disappointment with what was probably a smaller than expected turnout, it didn’t translate into a positive vibe. Rarely did lead singer and guitarist Damian Crosbie really let go and move around, and although their playing sounded quite solid, there does have to be an element of energy in a live performance.

That said, I felt their music did translate well live, and without the unfortunate sound issues it would’ve sounded even better. The combination of grandiose drumming patterns, which seemed to stay rhythmically interesting, and the band’s bright melodies, really had this sense of style about them. There’s no doubt about The Panda Band – they certainly know how to form their hooks into well-developed and mature songs, and if they can inject some more energy and atmosphere into their set, they’ll definitely be heading onto much bigger things.

The Panda Band are still touring around, and you can check out all of the dates over here.

LIVE: The Streetlight Parade, live at The Phoenix, Canberra (04-08-11)

Two gigs in as many nights? I know, I need to slow down right.

Last night I adventured down to The Phoenix in Canberra with some friends who were keen to catch The Streetlight Parade (I caught the end of the previous band, and missed Crash The Curb afterwards). They were on second and were met with rapturous applause and a few screams (well, it was rapturous compared to the size of the room alright? It’s a small club). Their welcome was well deserved, because they certainly put on a great little show.

I can’t fault them for not jumping around there or seeming energetic, ’cause the stage there looks pretty restricting, but they definitely looked like they were enjoying themselves. Their style of rock was filled with lots of catchy guitar hooks and giant choruses, and they really know how to write a good melody or two. Imagine these light, quick guitar fills that really flesh out the songs and hold it all together. Keeping it simple, it’s memorable, joyful indie rock at it’s best. And it was so good that the crowd kept them up there for an encore – an encore of a song they’d already performed. No one cared though, because the song was cool as hell, and the band clearly were having fun. That kind of attitude is infectious when it comes to performing.

I’m looking forward to seeing these guys move up and up in the Canberra scene, and hopefully make it bigger as well. They seem to have the song-writing skills to get there.

Grab some of their free music over here.

LIVE: Kaiser Chiefs, live at the UC Refectory, Canberra (03-08-11)

It was always going to be an interesting night. Only being familiar with singles from all three acts on the night meant that, in a sense, I was going in blind (or deaf). Which was kind of exciting.

In comparison to the Chief’s Sydney and Melbourne sideshows, which I’m sure will sell out, Canberra’s reception for the international band seemed a little lukewarm at first. Word from one of the event organisers, before doors opened, was that around 600 tickets were sold, and my friend and I (who both arrived an hour before doors to get a good spot) were the only ones there for quite a while. Which surprised me, to be honest. But we were the first ones in, so I can’t complain.

First up were Stonefield, and they showed everyone exactly why they’re starting to make waves in Australian music. Although they didn’t appeal to me stylistically, there’s no doubt that their playing was tight. Their brand of early rock was huge and expansive, filling the Refectory, and they did a good job of getting people excited, especially considering their job was to support Kaiser Chiefs. Vocally, all four girls had lots of talent, and I think if they continue playing that well, along with solid touring, they’ll develop a very strong fanbase.

Next up were Papa Vs. Pretty. These guys have been getting a fair bit of support from triple j lately, and their live show is a good indication of why. Thomas Rawle’s voice really shone on single “Heavy Harm”, and from then onwards, their set seemed to get better and better. They manage to move musically between lighter, melodically diverse moments, to harder, crashing rock, in mere moments, and there was no doubt that they put all of their energy into the set. Unfortunately, whether it was my position in the crowd, or the sound set up, it felt as if the music wasn’t very clear during a few points. Ultimately though the band played well, and like Stonefield, have the potential to get much bigger. While I think Stonefield are more likely to satisfy a niche audience in comparison to Papa Vs. Pretty, both bands were excellent as supports.

By this time the Refectory was actually looking quite full, which was a nice feeling. Canberra doesn’t get many international acts visiting, so I feel it’s important that when they do come out, we encourage them to come back. The compulsory chants started, and then we got a couple of minutes of some pre-recorded jam playing while lights flashed. It was pretty exciting, even if it was a less conventional way to see a band come on stage.

Starting off with “Everyday I Love You Less And Less”, the band wasted no time in launching into a series of some of their most popular hits. Despite this, the mosh was surprisingly tame for the whole night, which was actually quite nice. Second row and not being pushed around? Sounds good to me.

Frontman Ricky held the band’s performance together in terms of stage presence. Leaping all over the place, he proved to be a gigantic ball of energy throughout the course of their set. Seriously, solar power? Wind power? Screw it, just get this guy on a treadmill and we’ll be fine. Drummer Nick Hodgson also put a huge amount of energy into his playing, however both guitarists looked a little bored. That said, I can’t fault the band’s playing one bit at all. I probably only knew just over half of their set, but what I knew sounded spot on.

On top of that, the band (and Ricky in particular) definitely know how to engage a crowd. Standing on the barrier a few times and encouraging everyone to sing along during certain moments (which there were plenty of), the band really showed everyone why they are big enough to tour internationally – whether or not you love their music, they really are entertaining.

Their set consisted of every single I knew (and one I’d forgotten I knew), with the notable exception of “Na Na Na Na Naa”. I also heard new songs from The Future Is Medieval that I liked, so all in all they really know how to please a crowd and balance out their material, which becomes an important skill to have when you’ve written four albums.

It’s a shame some of the other band members didn’t seem so enthusiastic, but maybe that’s their playing style. Kaiser Chiefs brought down the Refectory with their infectious rock, and I hope their show encourages more bands to do the same, because it was a great night at a venue with lots of potential.

Some of the photos courtesy of Nick Beecher.

LIVE: Guineafowl, live at Transit Bar, Canberra (03-03-11)

[Couldn’t get a photo I took on the night off my iPhone – it was playing up. So I’m using this press shot instead. It’s probably much cooler anyway.]

On Thursday night, after much adventuring (I found Canberra’s Casino!), I found my way to Transit Bar with the help of my iPhone and some kind bouncers. Walking down some stairs, I handed over $12 to the nice lady at the door – Guineafowl would be more than worth it, I thought. I was right.

I met a friend there, and we then proceeded to make our way into the crowd. We weren’t up the very front, but the stage was small, and from past experience I think the sound would have been better where we were anyway. It wasn’t crowded in an uncomfortable way, but it was nicely packed. There was a solid reception for the band on the third last stop of their tour, and rightly so! Although not incredibly well known in the independent scene (yet!), Guineafowl have begun to earn their metaphorical indie chops with national airplay on triple j and by getting nominations for 2 SMAC Awards. The SMAC Awards are run by FBi Radio in recognition of Sydney’s artists and cultural events, and Guineafowl took out Best Sydney Song for “In Our Circles”!

At about 10.30 the band hit the stage, and they burst through about nine songs over the night. Which is quite a respectable effort for a band launching their debut EP (Hello Anxiety), which only has five tracks itself. Some of the newer unrecorded material sounds absolutely brilliant, especially the song they closed with (can’t remember it’s name unfortunately). It was good to see some of the initially unenthusiastic watchers participate in “Botanist”, the penultimate song in the set, because hand-clapping has never sounded so good – or felt so fun. “In Our Circles” sounded great, and all throughout the night the band were jumping up and down without sacrificing any musicianship (a skill some bands are lacking in). Unfortunately Sam (lead vocals) broke a couple of guitar strings during the first song, but the band recovered – in fact I don’t think they faltered at all – and it was as if nothing had happened.

The band played a solid set, and I think they’ll have definitely won some new fans over. Keep an eye out – if Guineafowl tour near you, rush out and see them.

All in all it was a great night. We got to chat with a few of the band members, and they were really nice. I picked up their EP and a t-shirt, so look out for a review in the near future (of the EP obviously, but the shirt is quite nice too).

If you’re quick you can grab “In Our Circles” for free here!

TOUR: Graffiti at the Wall 2010

This year Big Tree Artists and 3D World are presenting Graffiti at the Wall 2010! What’s that, you might be wondering. It’s Sydney‘s new independent, all ages, hip-hop and street art festival!

With amazing Aussie artists like Mind Over Matter, Phatchance, Coptic Soldier, Daily Meds, Johnny Utah, and other local acts, it’s going to be a fun night. There will be graffiti artists showcasing their work, and freestyle battles throughout the night. Be sure to get down there and support Australian hip-hop.

Festival details:
27th of November
Live at the Wall (formerly the Bald Faced Stag)
343 Parramatta Rd, Leichhardt, NSW
6.30 pm until around 1 am
Tickets are $20+bf for pre-sale, and $25 at the door.
Pre-order here!

LIVE: Karnivool, live at The Metro Theatre, Sydney (01-07-10)

Karnivool #5

One week ago, I embarked on a journey of epic proportions. Joined by one of my best friends and my dad, at approximately 8 o’clock in the morning we began a 7 hour drive to Sydney to see one of my favourite bands ever: Karnivool.

Doors at The Metro Theatre were set to open at 8pm, and not wanting to miss the opportunity to be up against the barrier, we lined up 2 hours early. Around 5 minutes after lining up, looking down the alley beside the Metro, who do we see but the one and only Ian Kenny! Deciding to take the chance while we had it, my friend and I walked up to him to see if we could get a photo before the gig. At first I wasn’t sure how he’d react – musicians such as himself must get asked for photos and approached by fans all the time, and it would probably get tiring. But he was the nicest guy, and was only too happy to have a quick chat and take a photo. It really made the night, getting to meet a musician from one of my favourite bands.

After that, we returned to the line outside the Metro. We were still basically at the very front, and the next 2 odd hours were spent chatting with a couple of people in line with us and a security guard (who by the way was one of the coolest security guards I’ve ever met).

The clock hit 8 and we all waited with anticipation for the doors to finally open. It took them about 10 minutes to let us in, and we walked (albeit very quickly) up the stairs to hand in our tickets and make our way inside.

Gay Paris #1

The first support act, Gay Paris, were on at about 8.30, so we didn’t have long to wait for some entertainment.

Initially, I had my doubts about Gay Paris. I checked out some of their demos and wasn’t terribly impressed, but their live show was something a bit more special. The lead singer’s style was out there, to say the least. Jumping all over the stage, talking with the audience, telling stories, rolling on the floor – it was all a bit odd, but it was interesting. He put a whole tonne of energy into it and it paid off. The guitarist I was closest to kept pulling surprised faces every so often, and did some awesome jumps during the tenser moments in their set.

In an instrumental sense, their material is full of loud rock hooks and quasi-punk-rock drumming, and it really does sound pretty good. The vocal lines consist primarily of deep growls, making most of the lyrics unintelligible from my perspective, but if that’s your thing then you should check these guys out. All in all, they put on an energetic show, and looked thrilled to be supporting someone as relatively big as Karnivool. So kudos to the guys for being interesting and warming everyone up – you did a great job.

MM9 #5

Next up were electro-rockers MM9. I was pretty excited to see these guys, having heard about their solid reputation when it comes to live shows.

They ended up being pretty entertaining. For those of you unfamiliar with them, they’re like a rockier version of Pendulum. The lead singer stood behind what looked like a small keyboard and a Mac, occasionally standing away from it and singing directly at the audience. The drumming was top notch, and was clearly tough work. The drummer had sweat pouring off his face by the end of the set.

Apart from a few troubles the guitarist had at one point, the set was flawless (as far as I could tell) on a technical level. It sounded good, and they interacted with the crowd, getting us all to sing along at a few points.

MM9 have recently released their debut “The Air Between”, and it sounds like they could begin making some bigger waves very soon. Keep an eye on them.

By this point the crowd was brimming with excitement. With each support act the mosh was getting more and more lively. With the curtains drawn over the stage, and the Karnivool guys doing a quick little sound-check to make sure everything was in order, everyone was getting fairly pumped.

The curtains opened, and we were given an empty stage. Everything was in its place. All we needed was the band. Then they came out.

Karnivool #9

The reaction from the crowd upon their entry was to be expected. It was enormous. This was the moment we’d all been waiting for.

Coming out on stage, Karnivool launched into the lead single from their latest LP “Sound Awake” – “Set Fire To The Hive”. And what a fitting beginning it was. The raw energy behind the song was matched only by the energy inherent in the audience’s enthusiasm. It felt like at least half of the mosh pit was singing along to every single word.

Karnivool then moved onto the rhythmically changing “Goliath” and LP opener “Simple Boy”, which saw guitarist Mark Hosking pick up a pair of xylophone mallets for the distinctive opening melody.

Karnivool #14

Everyone’s performances on the night were amazing. Drew Goddard’s extensive pedal set-up allowed him to recreate the majority of the studio sounds in a live environment, and when a band puts on a performance that’s so good you can hardly tell the difference between them and a CD, you know they’re something special. Ian Kenny’s vocals were amazing, and did not disappoint one bit. Jon Stockman’s bass playing was energetic and ferocious, yet still accurate. Though Mark Hosking was over on the opposite side of the stage to where I was, I couldn’t fault anything I heard, and Steve Judd’s drumming was superb, handling every time signature change and rhythmic nuance like the expert he is (I’m not sure why he had a plush bee on his drum kit, but it was cool none-the-less). In a sense I expected all of this. Karnivool are widely renowned for their live performances, and it really was a sight to behold, seeing 5 extremely talented musicians up on stage playing together.

Launching into “C.O.T.E”, one of my favourites from their debut album “Themata”, provided a nice contrast between their equally interesting songs from a few years ago and their latest material. At the end of the night, they really did quite a good job of mixing together old and new material. “Roquefort”, “Themata”, and “Shutterspeed” all got an airing, and the crowd loved it. These more mosh-friendly tunes really got everyone pumped up and excited.

Karnivool #7

Having already played through most of “Sound Awake” however, there was one final track to play before the main set was closed: “Change”. Having been alternating between “Deadman” and “Change” at previous gigs, I was glad they played the latter. It’s an amazing track that goes for over 10 minutes, and it really showcases everything brilliant about Karnivool: their ability to create moving songs, that despite their length manage to be captivating and beautiful. “Change”’s different sections fit together seamlessly, and this song is truly amazing. A brilliant end to the main set.

Karnivool #2

After around 5 minutes, Karnivool came out again to a rapturous applause. Everyone knew the encore was going to be something special – and they were right.

Bringing out fan favourite “Fade” from their “Persona” EP showed just how far Karnivool have come over the years. Moving from their early nu-metal influenced days, they’ve developed into a more progressive and unique group. I warned my friend earlier about “Fade”, and it turned out I was right – the mosh pit went off. Everyone loved it. I suspect that the New Day tour gigs could be the last gigs that they’ll play it. Maybe they’re giving it one last run before they put it on the shelf. I don’t have any evidence to justify it, but it’s just a feeling I get.

After “Fade” they pulled out the tour’s title track – “New Day”. Kenny’s hair was a little dishevelled, and they were beginning to look tired, but it seemed to me that Karnivool put in every ounce of energy possible, right up until the final notes.

All up it was an amazing gig. My friend managed to get one of Judd’s drum-sticks and a set-list, but the real prize was a drum plate thrown out at the end. It had been signed by all of the band, and was well out of my reach, going straight into the middle of the mosh.

I feel like I probably spent too much time taking photos and not enough time getting into the gig (you live and learn I guess), but regardless I still enjoyed myself a hell of a lot. It was one of the best gigs I’ve been too, and one of the most enjoyable. If you ever get a chance to see Karnivool, do so. For $40, Thursday was an absolute bargain. Make sure you see them before they start filling stadiums.

You can view a tonne of fairly good quality videos from the night here from ChezBerryxXx.

You can check out the whole set-list from the night here.

You can view all of the photos that I took here.

Also; check out the professional, and consequently much better photos taken by TheEnglishGentleman from FasterLouder over here.

triple j also managed to snap a few awesome ones. Take a look here.