Bigsound Live: Night 1
A few days ago, I had the absolute pleasure of covering the Bigsound Live Showcases. Not only was it an incredibly fun time, but it also provided a great opportunity to get some networking and, more importantly, some serious shit-talking done. Over the course of the two days of the Live Showcases, I spent around 8 hours either at The New Globe Theatre or Crowbar, and watched a multitude of bands. I was already familiar with some, good mates with others, and completely unaware of a few more. What follows is a brief rundown of my thoughts on the bands that I was present for. Enjoy! I know I did.
My first port of call was Crowbar at 8pm for Melbourne’s Jack The Stripper. I am, of course, very familiar with them, having reviewed their brilliant debut album Raw Nerve a while back, and since having become fairly well acquainted with vocalist Luke Frizon. I was already pretty clued into what I was in for, considering around half of the pictures on Jack The Stripper‘s Facebook page are Luke with self-inflicted head wounds of varying severity, the worst of which stemmed from him attempting to effectively scalp himself with a broken glass during a support slot for Whoretopsy. The man doesn’t tend to take kindly to people not paying attention, so he decided to take matters into his own hands (quite literally). I’m going to assume that his bloodied and crazed “come hither” was pretty effective. It’d work on me. Fuck, I’d probably shit myself if I’m honest. Over six feet tall, and with a “I obviously go to the gym” physique and all, he cuts a pretty damn imposing figure.
If it wasn’t bad enough that I nearly dropped my jaw through the floor after watching them soundcheck, the actual performance was just unreal. As they tore through a good portion of Raw Nerve, I pretty much just stood there dumbstruck with a dopey fucking grin on my face the whole time. I had heard from plenty of people that they were amazing live, so it’s not like it was unexpected, but just the sheer perfection was astounding. Every abrasive riff was pinpoint perfect, every timing change spot on and the vocals were just inhuman. I can very much attest that even though Luke is a monster on recording, he is even more powerful live. He seems to have the lung capacity of about 10 men, and his range and diction is just incredible. I honestly cannot overstate just how good Jack The Stripper really are, both recorded and live. An irresistable blend of technical brilliance and showmanship, the entire band just goes nuts the whole time, yet never misses a single beat. There isn’t a single moment where I wasn’t in awe, and true to form Luke finished the set bleeding. He is certainly incorrigible!
After being utterly blown away by JTS‘s infectious sense of chaos, I had a feeling the following band, Witchgrinder, were going to be shit as fuck so I bailed to The New Globe Theatre to catch a band that had been hyped to me via a few different avenues, but I had never gotten around to actually checking out. I had no background on them, no idea what they sounded like and no clue what was waiting for me as I got out of the foyer of NGT. In fact, as I strode purposefully through said foyer, the band had already started. I could hear sludgy guitars reminiscent of Queens Of The Stone Age or even Kyuss, and a visceral screamed delivery to juxtapose the groovy instrumentation. Never in a million years, would I have picked the vocalist I was hearing out of a crowd. I was expecting some sweaty, bearded bloke with bad hair and even worse dentistry. What I got, however, was a diminutive, very petite Asian lass who looked about 19 (I found out later she’s 31), whom bounced around the stage like an excitable teenager. The energy was absolutely incredible. She had the whole crowd nodding, headbanging, singing along and generally enjoying themselves.
High Tension positively bounded through a set picked from their most recently release Bully, with a reckless abandon that would have made the most energetic youth proud. It was exceptionally well received by the crowd, not least of which those up the front who were treated to Karina jumping down off stage to join them for the last few songs. Mic grabs were had, dancing was done and everyone left feeling much better for having witnessed such an astute set from a band of consummate professionals.
Back to Crowbar, and I was greeted by 5 immense lads who looked to be at least partially fond of death metal. I’m not exactly sure what tipped me off, possibly the rancid stench of putrefaction, maybe the fact that they looked like they’d had approximately four and a half showers between them, or perhaps the fact that most of them were wearing shirts that said “I <3 Death Metal". In hindsight, that last one was probably a bit of a giveaway ... but I digress.
Hadal Maw took to the stage with all the grace of a wounded mammoth, and absolutely tore shit up for a good half hour. It was dark. It was ugly. It sounded like the literal incarnation of Hell itself, and it was GLORIOUS. Fill in vocalist Disho is an absolute beast of a man, which belies his otherwise demure demeanour. The fill-in for the fill-in bassist (don’t ask) is about 10 feet tall and plays a headless bass, which makes for an even more unsettling sight than drummer Rob’s munted fucking head peering out through the cymbals amidst his flailing limbs. The entire set was essentially a cacophony of shredding guitar work underpinned by Disho’s gigantic voice and the pounding rhythm section. I was purposefully listening out for mistakes from Rob, because fuck that guy, and I thought I heard one once, but then I realised I was wrong. Pretty sure the dude is a fucking robot or something, although robots don’t sweat near as much as that dickhead does. Fucking great set that I enjoyed immensely. Do rate/10.
Luke Frizon action figure comes with non-optional blood attachment. Photo by Rhys Gardiner
Now, I’m not saying these flogs shouldn’t have been on this lineup. Far be it from me to tell Bigsound how to do their jobs and all, but let’s look at things here for just a minute. The entire lineup was filled with bands that are heavier than my first girlfriend, and twice as dirty. Death metal, industrial, noise metal and then these cocks. The best way to piss off a crowd of mostly blokes in their late 20s and 30s who look like they welcome anything outside of the death metal spectrum with utter disdain, is to throw A Breach Of Silence on the stage, complete with The Amity Affliction styled clean singing, breakdowns and the odd bit of power metal influence from bassist Blair Layt’s operatic vocals. I almost felt sorry for them, but then I remembered I’m a cynical arsehole who runs a website dedicated to celebrating the pain and suffering of musicians far more talented than I am, and just like that I was enjoying things again.
Aesthetics and suitability aside, A Breach Of Silence played as if they were playing mainstage at Soundwave, complete with awesome cheesy mid-song banter and all. They pretty much did exactly what every seasoned touring band ever has done, and stuck to the game plan even if the crowd was a little on the unresponsive side. It’s kind of hilarious when the best received part of your set is when your bassist rips out his incredible anchored falsetto for shits and giggles. I reckon if they start incorporating that into their songs on the regular, they will be on to something. I’m also not surprised that they are trying to get back to the US at the moment, because they very much struck me as the sort of band that US audiences would go nuts for. Oh, and I’m glad that the drummer, Daniel “Trickey” Trickett, cut off his dreads, even if it did seem to affect his kicks a bit. Maybe there is some mystical causal link between having dreadlocks and accurate kick drums? Maybe if I was blazed as fuck I wouldn’t have noticed anyway? Maybe Ted and Robin were set up to be together the whole time and Barney is a figment of everyone’s imagination, to symbolise the last flame of youth leaving the group as they age? See, these are the sorts of things I think about after smashing down a whole pot of coffee to balance out my Xanax. Which kind of leads me to the next band.
I’m not sure whether it was the left over hilarity of watching ABOS try to convert a room full of super serious death metal dudes, but as soon as In Death … took the stage, I just couldn’t help but have a chuckle. They looked pretty serious themselves this lot, and there was just something about the whole situation that made me smile. Then they started playing and my smile faded. Now, I’m not saying they were terrible, but there were a couple of things not particularly working in their favour. Firstly, the mix had somewhat degenerated after about the 3rd band, which doesn’t particularly matter for ABOS, but when you are playing some hybrid variant of death/southern metal, clarity is kind of important. It’s also really conspicuous when it’s absent, and for most of the set all I could hear was a garbled mess of guitar riffs, with the odd cutting lead phrase over the top.
The most serious-looking of all the band members was undoubtedly the vocalist. I’m assuming his plan was to out leer everyone in the crowd, and he did a half decent job of it as well, even if it was somewhat mitigated by the monotony of his delivery. There was some pretty dank windmilling from lead guitarist Rah, which was pretty sweet, but unfortunately my enduring memory of their set will always be the drums. I was under the impression that death metal bands are supposed to have tight drummers. I was also under the impression that heavy bands who have toured internationally should have tight drummers. Given that in this case they are one and the same, I must forthwith amend my expectations, because apparently I was expecting too much. Old mate drummer laboured through the set with the kick accuracy of a donkey smacked up on a double dose of horse tranquilizers. I almost felt bad for the second time of the night, but then I remembered that my job is to relay things as accurately and entertainingly as I can, not sympathise with musicians who I’ve never met or heard of before. They finished up their set, and that concluded my first night. The second night would prove to be just as eventful, as you’ll see in Pt. 2 of my run down.
Pt 2. coming soon!
Publisher at IPHYB
Chris Giacca just may be the worst writer in the world, but it doesn't matter because he probably still has a bigger audience than you, so he is by default automatically right about everything. No exceptions. He's currently writing a novel which will be uploaded in single chapter installments as spoken word on bandcamp. Physical releases will be on laser disc only, limited to 17 1/2 units. Don't ask about the half.
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