Monday, 1 June 2015
"It's dangerous to go alone! Take this" urged the sagacious cave bum as he handed me a dated Myki. I was still too young to ride Epona and the very thought of catching public transport sent me into a Molly Weasley-like rage. "Listen" my fairy offsider ordered, but in my berserker rage it fell on deaf ears. I unsheathed the Master Sword as my eyes caught wind of the old man's antique pottery collection. Before he could voice an objection, I had unleashed a devastating fully charged spin attack and shattered every pot in his subterranean home to smithereens. "Listen" Navi implored as I turned my attention towards the cowering sage in the corner. "Lis..ooooff". The boomerang had found it's mark and knocked the luminescent mosquito to the ground. Opening up my inventory, I equipped the Megaton Hammer for maximum damage and held it over my fuming head ready to strike a fatal blow. The whimpering elder meekly held out the ocarina in defeat which I quickly snatched away from him. I pursed my lips and played the "Requiem Of Spirit" to warp me to the Spirit Temple which housed tonight's show but not before unleashing an army of Bombchu's to level the dusty cavern.
I arrived just in time to catch the last song of Melbourne's GLASS EMPIRE which was a shame because they a pretty spectacular way to kick off the night. It was a combination of solid alternative rock and echo-heavy vocals with nods to Dead Letter Circus, old Karnivool, and new Incubus along the way. Props to the drummer for managing to keep his singlet from falling off whilst maintaining the tempo. It looked like it was giving you quite a bit of trouble.
After a rather lengthy setup, five-piece Melbournites BRANCH ARTERIAL hit the stage with a flurry of technical precision and accented nirvana. The groups instrumentation punched me in the face harder than Charlie Sheen hitting the bottle, with each accented riff adding to the distorted cacophony before me. It was an absolute pleasure watching Kade Turner's fingers dance across his steel cables faster than any given person accepting a marriage proposal from The Rock. Adam Zaffarese is a fucking monster on the skins. His sticks hit harder than a domestic abuse offender as he sports a shit-eating grin on his face like he's about to give someone's kid brother a wedgie. His technical prowess comes off as being effortless as he is constantly trying to catch the attention of members of the band simply to give them a nod and a smile as if to say "how cool is this shit?". The dual guitar work really drove the music home and brought influences such as Tool and Sevendust into the fold. My one minor gripe with the set was from the mic control used by vocalist Nigel Jackson. He has a great range and a really powerful voice which does wonders for the overall sound of the group, however it does become a problem when he goes from quieter moments to banshee levels of booming without adjusting the microphone distance from his gob. In saying that, when the mic levels were adjusted correctly, he made a solid impact on the punters and even managed to pull out some sweet harmonies with one of the groups guitarists. We were treated to a special musical guest in the form of a violinist mid-set which added an intricate level of flair to the groups dynamic. I was disappointed that she only hung around for a single track but it did get me more invested in what the band was trying to showcase. Solid set from a group I will definitely be keeping an eye out for in the future.
The room was at triple capacity by the time international quintet KLONE hit the dais and I had no idea what to expect. The Frenchmen encapsulate every single punter in the room from the opening note. The grinding chugs from the twenty year veterans caused all conversation to cease and all eyes to face the stage. The music is heavy, slow, progressive, and calculating. It puts a smile on my face bigger than a teenager who's just kissed his long term crush for the first time. The immersive light show paints the band in silhouettes of green and purple, and it really sets the group apart from any other band on the bill tonight. Vocalist Yann Ligner elevates the group another ten levels with a gravelly pitch-perfect voice that could grate chocolate. Much like Chino Morino of Deftones fame, he can go from delicate and reserved to Galactus destroyer of worlds in a matter of nanoseconds. He uses the latter sparingly at the cusp of crescendos, giving you just enough to become emotionally invested and to leave you craving more. In terms of influences, I can’t think of a single band that the tourists reminded me of, and that is truly a feat unto itself. Klone close the set with a pretty epic cover of Bjorks "Army Of Me" which caused a bit of debate amongst our group over which version was better. While I don't believe it surpassed Bjorks incarnation, it was certainly an excellent homage to the Icelandian.
Expectations were high for the headliner and I had brought along a group of friends who had never heard the band before so my reputation was on the line. VOYAGER come flying out of the red corner throwing haymakers and uppercuts into the air. Smiles litter the room as the visitors from Perth showcase their unique brand of progressive-technical-pop metal. I'm not exaggerating when I say that every single song can have you singing along even if you don't know the music. The onstage chemistry is amazing with every single member of the band having the time of their lives especially guitarist Simone Dow who was constantly Gene Simmonsing her tongue whenever she melted our faces off with Santana shaming solos. Alex Canion has fun with the crowd, his eyes opened wider than a fat kid spotting cake as he belted out the tunes far away from any microphones. The hits keep coming as crowd participation increases with every song. That's when frontman Daniel Estrin whipped out his flaming red keytar much to the delight of a few overexcited punters in the room. Estrin is an invaluable asset to Voyager's lineup. He knows how to work the crowds but he can also revert to a reserved demeanour which allows to focus to fall onto the rest of the band and give them their time in the spotlight. A symbiotic cycle is formed by his repeated vocal hooks which encourage crowd sing alongs which pumps the band up, which in turn pumps the crowd up. Guitar duelling, synth samples and rave shaves all add to the aural tapestry Voyager bestow upon the audience and the crowd laps it up like a thirsty dog who's been locked in a car in the middle of summer. Hits such as "Stare Into The Night" and "Hyperventilating" have the masses singing along with the fervor of ninety nine percent of X-Factor wannabes (with the exception that the judges on stage will love us no matter how out of tune we are). Just when you think the show can't get any better, Voyager bust out the theme from Game Of Thrones much to the hordes delight. This led into a medley which included the theme from Ghostbusters, "Breathe" by The Prodigy, Midnight Oils "Beds Are Burning", Rammstein's "Du Hast", Tina Turner's "Simply The Best", and finally ending on the closing riff of Rage Against The Machines "Killing In The Name Of". If any person in the room wasn't sold before then they certainly were now as Voyager had the crowd eating out of the palm of their hands. A group of spectators were now adding their own chants in between the vocal parts of the songs much to the delight and/or horror of the band. The acknowledgement from Canion sent a flock of laughter up in the air like doves released at a wedding. The hour long set from the group seemed to go by in a heartbeat and every member of the band willingly hung around for as long as was needed to speak with fans, get photos taken and to sign CDs. This connection with their fan base is the mark of a truly great musical talent who will forever hold a place in my heart and the annals of Australian rock history.
Amazing job Melbourne. Love your work.