Wednesday, 1 January 2014

The Butterfly Effect @ Mona Vale Hotel

DATE: 29/12/13

Anderson Silva screams like a banshee as he falls to the floor quicker than a businessman’s briefs in a whore house.  The zoo of blood hungry spectators spring out of their chairs faster than a greyhound on crack as a volley of high fives clash together harder than two opposing Iron Age armies. Tombledore elects to hold his position and immerse himself in the debate of the certainty of Floppy Foot's future MMA career. A lethargic Pikachu and I make our escape from the tavern amidst the swelling brouhaha and sneak in a quick siesta before our perilous journey into Mordor. Darkness shrouded our eyes as we rejuvenated our weary bodies and before we knew it, we were abruptly awoken by the screeching of an automated rooster. A quick glance at the social pokedex sent me into a panic as Sauron’s forces were set to march an hour earlier than expected. With a speed faster than Paris Hilton's acting career we found ourselves back at the tavern steps where the inebriated headmaster absconded from the inn with a wee four-pack of apple flavoured roadies. Our hire car hastily navigated the abandoned Christmas roads of Sydney Town and after a time crippling pit stop from Cider Bladder, we found ourselves descending into the ominous mists of Mona Vale.

The venue was emptier than the void left by a post Death Star Alderaan due to the show being pulled forward an hour early at the last minute. Unfortunately Sydney’s alternative rock quintet TEAL copped the brunt of this bullshit decision. It was evident when I walked in halfway through their set that they were less than happy about it as the performance was deflated like a week old balloon. The few of us in the audience who knew the potential of the band, gave the boys an aural cuddle with a thunderous cheer that should have come from a crowd three times its size. Vocalist Joe Surgey’s eyes lit up like those of a possum who had been caught stealing a mango and he humbly thanked us for the warm reception. With that little push, Teal were back in form; knocking the room dead with their solid brand of Mars Volta/Radiohead/Jeff Buckley flavoured rock. Bassist “Quiz” comes to life with a stage persona very similar to Scott Pilgrim; constantly bending his knees and leaning forward whilst standing on his tippy toes. Tombledore was quick to point out that the angry, militant Russian looking Shane “Bane” Benson on the skins brought down his sticks like the thunder of Zeus as he interlaced the songs with some gorgeous jungle-like tom work. Brothers Mitch and Andy Clews work their guitar legerdemain on opposite ends of the stage; Andy electing the role of the token shoe-gazer whilst Mitch bites his tongue whenever he is loses himself in the music. Surgey nailed his Buckley rivalling vocals, hitting notes higher than a stoner at the apex of Mount Everest. I only managed to watch two tunes from Teal’s performance before Walder Frey signalled his brethren to slit the band by the throat, effectively causing their set to end without warning. It was a really heartbreaking way to start the night as Teal in my opinion are the most promising band in Australia at the moment and they deserved a much better reception than what the Mona Vale Hotel had provided.

As Teal left the stage the punters started to filter through the door and people were heard complaining about missing them due to the rescheduling of the timetable. Everyone clung to the walls as Melbourne/Sydney based four piece rock outfit THE NERVE exploded out of the woodwork like a John McEnroe temper tantrum. The music is influenced by the likes of Drowning Pool, Head Filled Attraction, Kid Rock, Motorhead and Godsmack and has a blunt, in your face Australian feel to it that is impossible to overlook. My first introduction to veteran front man Ezekiel Ox (other than a quick glimpse of Full Scale opening for Sevendust) was at an empty Annandale hotel at the start of Mammal’s climb to fame. There were lucky to be ten people in the venue and the man performed as if there were five hundred in the room. He jumped up on the table in the middle of the room that I was standing behind and grinded into my face to the delight of my offsiders on the night. Anyone that knows me at all is well aware that I had a very deep seeded and passionate dislike of Mammal as a band but I was always captivated by Zeke’s dominating charisma and stage presence. Cut back to the present and it’s incredible to see that he has lost none of the oomf that have made every band he has been a part of a huge success. Sporting a purple shorts and rainbow socks combo, Mr Ox worked the void at the front of the room like a pro; targeting the people who looked like they were enjoying it the least and bringing the show to them. Modified moonwalking, corroboree-like dancing, nipple rubbing, model poses and jumping on top of the speakers to turn the spotlight out onto the crowd where he was performing, were but a few of the flamboyant and comedic rock moves he used in his arsenal to cause the room to salivate. After the deafening applause at the end of the opening track, Ox announced that he just proved that the front of the room wasn’t a barren waste land and it was a fucking rock show. Every person in the room meekly made their way to the front of the stage where we got a closer look at the rest of the band. On the skins was ex Cog legend Lucius Borich who literally had a smile on his face every second of the set. The kit he used was about half the size of what I’m used to watching him use but he still effortlessly makes every drum and cymbal in the rig his bitch. Bassist Davarj Thomas chewed his gum to the beat of the music whilst spooning out generous dollops of distortion heavy rumbles. Hammer-on abusing guitarist Glen Proudfoot’s jeans had more holes in them than an orgy on a golf course and his fingers danced across the strings like a budding coal walker on their first successful crossing. Even the roadie had his hands full the majority of the set; de-shirting Proudfoot mid performance and constantly untangling Zeke’s microphone lead throughout the set. The Nerve ensured to cram as much rock into their half hour set as possible which is guaranteed to put the hair back on alopecia riddled nugs across the country. The horde hung off every raspy word Ox uttered as the grunge/punk/metal inspired music added a delicious underlying canvas to lure the crowd deeper down the rabbit hole.  Tracks “Poser”, “Respect” and the gospel flavoured “Witness” were crowd favourites whilst the lads finished the set strong with the heaviest song of the night “14 again”. Zeke left the stage with a classy bow and left the three remaining musicians with a few minutes to lap up the affections of the crowd. Brilliantly entertaining set from a very young band who will be headlining sold out shows at major venues before you know it.

After an incredibly entertaining conversation with the gentlemen from Teal we were lured back inside by a sample of “Imago” from the album of the same name. Newly reformed THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT were here as a part of their first outing with new vocalist Paul Galagher who had massive shoes to fill following the departure of Clint Boge. I witnessed their Annandale performance on the first leg of the tour where everyone but the critics seemed to enjoy the show. It was awe inspiring to witness the sold out venue chanting “Paul! Paul! Paul!” three songs into the set. The problem that a good chunk of The Butterfly Effect’s fans have is that everyone goes in expecting Galagher to be an exact carbon copy of Boge. People need to accept that this is a new chapter in the band's career and that they wouldn't have elected any old slouch to front their well respected brand of highly influential, Australian prog rock. TBE smartly chose to open the set with “Filling Silence” from debut album “Begins Here” which immediately throws Galagher into the deep end and tests his skill set against Boge’s entire range. While the mix for the first half of the song caused the band as a whole to sound muddy, it didn’t take long for jaws to start dropping across the room. Galagher doesn't possess the theatrics that Boge brought to the band but he nails every note with military precision and in many instances surpasses his predecessor. Of particular note is when he reaches the higher/ballsier moments of songs where his vocals adopt a tasty grunge tone very similar to Alter Bridge’s Myles Kennedy. He is at his strongest when he has the microphone stand in his hands as he seems to dance with it, whilst his casual stage persona oddly enough reminds me of Lexxi Foxx from Steel Panther (without the lip gloss and pouting). The breakdown from “One Second Of Insanity” was slowed right down which although I didn't enjoy it at the Annandale show, seemed to work a treat this time around. The amount of faces guitarist Kurt Goedhart can make with his eyes closed is ridiculous as his dome bounces around like a bobble head toy. His unique flair is the heart and soul of the music as he throws traditional chords out the window in favour of his signature flurrying style. “Phoenix” sounded richer than a chocolate mud cake and was the first song of the set where Galagher’s grungy tones were a noticeable improvement over the last vocalist. Ben Hall’s glorious Spartan beard was lit up by the strobes at the back of the stage as he hammered away at his kit. Fan favourite “Window And The Watcher” had the crowd singing along in droves. It was always a song which I thought fell apart during the chorus but Galagher brought some much needed gusto to the performance where Boge wasn’t able to. Goedhart humorously screwed up the intro to “Aisles Of White” where Tombledore took it as an opportunity to whisper in my ear that Galagher “definitely wasn’t a substitute teacher”. There were some great harmonies with bassist Glen Esmond in some of the new tracks as Paul started to swig red wine from the bottle like the classy gentleman that he is. Esmond was the quiet achiever on stage; providing the crucial concrete foundation of voluptuous bass licks that brought the music to life. A slower paced “Perception Twin” and “Reach” had the mob eating out of their hands and before we knew it, Esmond announced the last song which led to universal groans of disapproval from the room. Galagher’s first single as front man “Eyes Down” which took me a few listens to wrap my head around, was chosen to close the show and was a more than worthy contender to do so. Killer set from the Brisbanosaurus Rex’s.

Even with the faux pas caused by the stubborn iron fist regime of The Mona Vale Hotel and the disappointing turnout, all three bands played as if the room was sold out like the professionals that they are. My crew hired a car for the day just so we could make it out to the gig which was well beyond my jurisdiction and it was worth every cent. With a bill consisting of a certified independent chart topper and two future groups of superstars, this show should have sold out the week it went on sale. The future of our great cities live music is in great peril if we don’t all get out to support the bands that deserve our attention. In the words of Captain Planet “The power is yours”.

Don’t be a dick, Sydney! Support the live music scene.

Joshua Towney

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