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[Review] Pip Millett @ 170 Russell, Melbourne 18/01/2023

Swung RnB drums, groovy bass, sweet keys, tender vocals, a passionate crowd. The energy at Pip Millett’s debut Naarm/Melbourne show on Wednesday night could only be described as warm, as her opener Shanae stated a few songs into her set. The vibe was sensual, slow, groovy and passionate, a perfect mood for a smaller intimate venue such as 170 Russell, the old nightclub venue in the heart of the city.

Opening for the Manchester singer was Sydney singer Shanae. A short yet tight 20-minute set brought the crowd right where it needed to be, with slow-burns Illusions, Come On Over and key single Locking Eyes. Backed up with a smooth jazz electric piano, Shanae and her musical partner played sweet minimal, yet funky arrangements of their tracks which normally featured more hip-hop and electronic instrumentation, giving us the stripped back pseudo unplugged experience. Although she is small, Shanae is an artist to keep your ears and eyes on as she makes her way through the Aussie scene. My favourite track played was Some Type Of Way, simple for the pure passion in the vocal performance.

After a quick intermission, our headliner took the stage. Pip Millett opened the show with Think You Know Me, the intro to her 2022 album When Everything Is Better, I’ll Let You Know, Millett took us into her world, more specifically the current place in her creative journey. Choosing to open a show with a project’s opening track implies a level of continuity between the studio and live experience, which was both confirmed and contradicted by the following set.

Immediately after this opening number, Pip spoke to the audience. Her charming Northern English accent carried words of humour and modesty, as she seemed humbled and surprised that anyone, let alone a sold-out venue worth of people would come see her sing, yet there we were. Telling us “I came so fucking far to see you bitches” she launched into a medley of album tracks and hits, highlighted by the beautiful Do Well and Downright.

Her band was world class. A classy drummer, positioned side stage, punctuated the smooth RnB with a mix of acoustic and electronic instrumentation. The bass player took lead duties, carrying many of the low-end heavy tracks, with the guitar and keys players adding subtle rhythmic and spatial elements to fill out the sound. It’s always great to see an amazing RnB band showing us just how deeply in the pocket a team of musicians with killer chemistry can be. When Pip Millet took the chance to introduce her band, she teased them all saying, “Congratulations for being in my band, you’ve hit the fucking jackpot”, a sweet injection of cheeky confidence to contrast the music that mainly covered darker and sadder material. Pip is so clearly a person with much love for the people she works with, which always endears the music further to you when it comes from such a warm place.

My favourite songs of the night were Heavenly Mother, for its catchy and fun chorus, and Only Love, the closer of the new album, for it’s stripped back and minimal vibe. Pip also managed to do some of the best self-harmonisation I’ve ever seen, making her sound fuller and more emotional in deeper moments.

By the final track, the crowd had truly fallen in love. Make Me Cry, Pip’s sing-along hit made for a beautifully melancholy end, with her introducing it as the first song she released, and a song the reminds her of a long-lost time that still brings deep feelings to her heart. Her performance, her artistry, and her passion truly were a joy to see and made for a beautiful evening.

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[Review] Thy Art Is Murder @ Roundhouse, Sydney 13/01/2023

We are not spoiled with a four-band line-up of top-tier talent every day. Tonight’s show is just that. Extreme metal, western Sydney titans Thy Art Is Murder are accompanied by three international heavyweights, Spite, Chelsea Grin and Whitechapel. Strap yourself in, we’re in for a night of heavy riffs and even heavier vocals! 

Californian hardcore/deathcore/downtempo maniacs Spite are kicking off the festivities, and the band I am most looking forward to seeing. As they take the stage, the sun is still in the sky leaving the Roundhouse more illuminated than usual. Frontman Darius Tehrani commands the stage with energy too large for the small space, as being the first band on the bill their drumkit is in front of another. Half of Spite’s 8-song set is taken from their latest release Dedication to Flesh, a heavy-hitting no holds barred album that delivers from opening to closing track. Lord of The Upside Down, Caved In and IED give the crowd minimal recovery time, only a chance to warm themselves up for a huge night of moshing.  

I’m happy to see just how many punters came down early to catch them! Rounding out Spite’s set is Kill or Be Killed and Crumble, two monstrous songs that showcase their sound perfectly. I’m a big fan of deathcore, but there’s something about Spite’s dash of metal in the mix that really makes them stand out. Their set is far too short, although as this is only their first time in Australia, I’m hoping it’s the start of a beautiful relationship that results in many frequent visits. 

Just as I’ve had time to purchase a Spite shirt from the merch booth, the lights dim for Utah’s Chelsea Grin. The last time we saw them was with Born of Osiris in 2019, and in such time they’ve released two new albums, Suffer In Hell and Suffer In Heaven and I’m looking forward to seeing them again. Opening with Recreant, we get a sense that they did not come to mess around. Desolation of Eden, the album Recreant is taken from, had a very different line up, one of the most notable is frontman Tom Barber (ex-Lorna Shore) who’s been with the group since 2018 and is one of the most talented vocalists in the scene. His ability to jump from screams and lows is seamless and astonishing, all with a smile on his face. New track The Isnis gains a great crowd response as horns are cast in the air and pits are widened. Stand outs of Chelsea Grin’s set for me personally are taken from 2018’s Eternal Nightmare, Dead Rose and Hostage.   

As for Spite, Chelsea’s Grin only really tickled their catalogue of music. I sure hope next time Chelsea visit, they have a longer set to really get into how great this band is as their popularity is soaring. 

I’m already beyond happy with tonight’s performance, as Tennessee’s Whitechapel arrive. I’ve been a fan of theirs since 2007’s Somatic Defilement and they will always hold a very special place for me, the excitement has gone up a notch! In the last few years, their sound has expanded from the heavy deathcore flavour we know and love. Clean vocals have seeped through the mean demeanour, as showcased in their opening track When a Demon Defiles a Witch. Phil Bozeman has a very distinctive voice and evokes monstrous growls from such a small frame with ease.  

Bassist Gabe Crisp provides the low end on the strings with force while all three amazing guitarists Ben Savage, Alex Wade, and Zach Householder give their own personal touch to the songs that make Whitechapel one of the biggest heavy bands around. They steamroll through a selection of hits such as Brimstone, Doom Woods and Black Bear which gets the floor bouncing and is impossible to keep out of.  

This is Exile makes us long-time fans happy, even my brother with short hair can’t help but attempt to headbang to this Whitechapel classic! A Bloodsoaked Symphony and The Saw Is The Law round out their blistering set, 8 years in the making.  

The exhausted punters head to the bar and outside area for one last breath before the headliners arrive to take what’s left from this crowd’s energy tanks. 

We Like To Party by The Vengaboys fills the venue, making the metal crowd laugh and dance unaware Thy Art Is Murder lurk just behind the stage. Opening with Reign of Darkness the crowd pushes out a monstrous circle pit to the dark red lights only just illuminating the band members. The crowd scream ‘You will see the true face of panic’. 

Vocalist CJ McMahon’s skeletal mic stand towers over him and the front centre of the stage, forcing him to sing upwards similar to Lemmy. Tonight’s performance is a truly special one, the 10th anniversary of their second full-length album Hate being played in its entirety. The mad crowd barely have time to hi 5 their mate before we’re cast into The Purest Strain of Hate. Drummer Jesse Beahler is a madman behind the kit and keeps tempo with precise concentration. I spot him looking into the crowd and smiling at the response his band is getting from the wild Sydney crowd.  

Songs such as Immolation, Dead Sun and Defective Breed annihilate the Roundhouse still cast under dark lighting and smoke, adding to the drama of the undeniably heavy music. CJ is belting out some exceptionally heavy vocals, but that doesn’t stop him from having a bright smile across his face for most of the night. The band are truly appreciative of the reception and the love is sent back in droves. Doomed From Birth rounds out the Hate album and the band takes a short break backstage, while the crowd calls out for more!
Thy Art return to the stage for 3 encore tracks, which must have been hard to choose from their catalogue. Death Squad Anthem, Holy War and Puppet Master wrap up tonight’s gruesome events. TAIM consistently delivers goods in a way that inspires unending mayhem and fan love with horns raised as they scream out the lyrics until the last note. 

I feel very proud to see an Australian band reach the success that Thy Art is Murder has garnered, especially headlining a tour in their own country with three international supports.
The entire east coast run of this tour has sold out with very limited tickets left for Adelaide and Perth. Do not sleep on this tour. 

With 4 spectacular deathcore acts, there really is something for everyone and even if you head down for one band, I’m sure you’ll fall in love with another. 

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[Review] Joey Bada$$ @ Forum Theatre, Melbourne 08/01/2023

Sunday night was a buzz on Flinders Street as hundreds of fans lined up around the block into Hozier lane for New York’s Joey Bada$$ and his epic show at Melbourne’s classic Forum Theatre. Making his grand return to Australia for the first time in a few years, the Brooklyn native is known for his infamous rise to fame in 2012 with his self-released, no major label mixtape 1999, and a string of fantastic albums to follow, as well as being a co-founder of hip-hop group Pro Era. Releasing 1999 at just 17 years old, he made waves with his lyricism well beyond his age and skill behind the microphone. This tour, the 1999-2000 tour, represents a celebration of 10 years of the debut record, along with promoting the brand-new sequel record, 2000, released in 2022. The hype was real.

Opening the show was South Sydney rapper, Gomeroi man and master storyteller Kobie Dee. At only 25 years old, Dee covers a lifetime of narrative. Focusing in on his home and community of Maroubra, Kobie Dee highlighted the issues of mental illness, drug abuse and youth suicide, discussing the importance of conversation and removing stigma from the subjects. He took time to pay tribute to lost loved ones, and to celebrate what they stood for. But as well, Kobie Dee brought the party, and brought it hard. Fan favourites such as This Life and Basics were anthems, with the whole crowd bouncing and singing along for the full 30-minute tight set. Kobie Dee represents the future of Aussie conscious hip hop and predicts high hopes for storytelling through music.

Next up was Powers Pleasant. Producer, DJ and Pro Era alumni, Powers brought the bangers. Over the years I have seen a lot of hip hop warmup DJs, but man, this was the hottest 25 minutes of heat I’ve ever seen before a rap set. Powers Pleasant toured us through quick edits of Denzel Curry, Freddie Gibbs, Kid Cudi, Lil Uzi Vert, Kendrick Lamar and even Nirvana with crazy fun transitions to match. The crowd was pretty much on fire by the time the set ended and the main act began.

Joining Powers on stage, Joey Bada$$ hit the stage just before 10pm, opening with the fan favourite and classic track of his debut, Survival Tactics. The classic chant of “Fuck The Police” was cleverly contrasted with the red and blue stage lights, setting the scene for a night of rebellious rap.

Not missing a word except to wave the mic at the audience for their support, Joey blew through classic after classic before addressing the crowd for the first time. Taking his time to bask in the love of the crowd Joey Bada$$ thanked us for our ongoing love and support, told us he was here for the day ones all the way to the new fans, instilling the further duality of the tour title, a reflection on the decade of music and the ongoing relationship with his fans. The connection of conscious rap, politically charged lyricism and a romantic edge penetrated the consciousness of all in the room.

Joey also took his time to pay tribute to hip hop legends we’ve lost in recent years, including King Von, Nipsey Hussle and the ever-controversial XXXTENTACION. Many hip hop shows have a moment such as this, where they look back on those fallen, but Joey’s was more than just a grab at tragedy, but instead a thought provoking moment of pain for friends gone. The ongoing issue of gun violence in the US is not a taboo topic to Joey Bada$$, and often enters his music as he is more than familiar with its sting.

The crowd was bouncing the whole night. It was clear that these fans knew their material, with every song a sing-along, every chorus a chant. The mosh was heavy and hard, but the energy was positive, with those falling being picked up to re-join the party. A perfect blend of love and anger, triumph and pain, joy and rage.

Highlights of the night’s set included Head High, Make Me Feel, Paper Trail$ and the chart-topper TEMPTATION which for me was the best of the show. Joey wasn’t satisfied to end on that track though, and despite the Forum’s strict curfew, he chose to “risk the fine” and play one more song because he’s Joey Fucking Bada$$, the crowd chanted. Ending the show with the banger DEVESTATED, the fans were left sweaty, messy but satisfied from a night of dope hip-hop and awesome music.

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[Review] Aminé @ Forum Theatre, Melbourne 06/01/2023

On the 6th of January the beloved Forum Theatre welcomed in thousands of excited faces, eagerly awaiting for Aminé to hit the stage. Advancing into the foyer like an army of loyal troops, it was clear that Aminé fanbase was strong- united in their love for his intoxicating presence, and quirky persona. There was, however, one fan who was quite new to the scene, and uncertain of what to expect. This fan was me. I knew of Aminé, and of course was familiar with Caroline, the song that catapulted him to commercial recognition. However, it is safe to say, that my musical pallet surrounding alternative hip hop and rap was…rather dry. So, as I entered the Forum and took my spot amongst the buzzing crowd, I hoped and prayed that I might leave the show a little quenched.

And boy did I.

Starting off the night, Dj Classic warmed up the crowd with a classic game of call and response. Within a few minutes, strangers were acting like best mates, and it was clear that this pre show entertainment was there to lay the ground rules for the night: go wild, dance, but do it all as one. Following Dj Classic, B Wise took to the stage. I was majorly impressed with his ability to take the audience’s growing energy, and send it into the stratosphere. With songs like Who?! and Won’t Stop, B Wise demonstrated his slick lyrics and insatiable beats with incredible prowess; all the while maintaining a sense of gratitude and connection with his audience. With his concerted effort to look directly at his crowd, and his constant reminder to befriend and look after one another, B Wise felt like an artist at the top of his game, as well as a close and trusted friend. My favourite moment was when he took a moment to acknowledge his Nigerian roots before performing Ezzina, a song that oozed funk, heart, and soul. Side note: I still can’t get that guitar riff out of my head!

By this point in the night, the crowd of newly formed friends were as prepped as they could be for Aminé‘s entrance. So, when that moment came, and aminé danced his way onto the stage, the wild cheers was exactly what I was expecting. Kick starting his set with Mad Funny Freestyle, Aminé’s kooky lyrics and hilarious wordplay were accompanied by spectacular visuals that were as creative and dynamic as his rapping. Between Aminé‘s commitment to jumping around the stage, and the backdrop of neon coloured lights that featured garish yellows and hot pinks, it felt like we were witnessing the inside of Aminé‘s brain: an explosion of absurdity and playfulness. From start to finish, the Forum stage transported itself into a visual exploration of Aminé‘s creative genius; one where we got to witness his bouncy melodies, giddy synth, and hyper pop influence come to life.

 

It’s one thing to bop along to Charmander in the car. It’s another thing to experience it in a sold out venue, where it’s infectious energy and fast paced flow had me feeling so carefree that I almost felt weightless. What I also loved about Aminé‘s was the variety in his performance. Just when you thought the night might become one dizzying mosh, he’d bring us back down to earth with performances like shine that highlighted his slower melodies and more delicate, vulnerable vocals. I was particularly impressed with his falsetto in Shine and the smooth, glitzy guitar in the background. Aminé‘s musical confidence really showed itself through his ability to hook the crowd. Whether it was through a sugar rush state of energy, or a more reflective, down to earth moment, the crowd was there to drink in every moment and savor every minute. Finishing off the night with a consecutive performance of Spice girl, Caroline, and Reel It In, these three crowd pleaser songs provided a climactic high point that left the audience in a state of total appreciation and bliss. I left the Forum feeling more connected to hip hop and rap than ever before, and I have Aminé and his generous fans to thank for that. All in all, it was certainly a night well spent, and I cannot wait to see what craziness Aminé conjures up next. 

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[Review] The Crystal Method @ 170 Russell, Melbourne 16/12/2022

Returning to 170 Russell was like a rush of nostalgia for me. Memories of old gigs and dirty club nights on a Saturday. Nostalgia was certainly the key for this evening’s entertainment, as both The Crystal Method and his support act Black Cab dealt in it as their main theme.

Opening the show was Melbourne’s own Black Cab, a three-piece electronica group with classic roots. With clear inspiration from New Order, the band dealt a constant vibe for their entire set. The drummer played almost entirely 16th notes for the whole show, an incredibly bold move for a live band. That kind of rhythmic consistency is generally limited to raves and prog shows. In this case, it held a strong backbeat and pace for a crowd of mostly 50-somethings to bop along to. Layering on synth pads, arpeggios and effects, the band built a danceable sound with a bright palette. About 10 minutes into the set, the singer began to add a layer of ambient vocals, adding to an already solid sound.

With every song gradually evolving into the next, it was a surprise when their set ended, as it felt like one fantastic long dance hit drawing me further and further in.

Once the main act began, there was almost no stopping him. What was once a duo, is now one man (Scott Kirkland), and The Crystal Method lives on through him. Taking us back to the 90s, to the height of the Big Beat movement, the show was a non-stop rave-ride through the soundscape that defined the genre and the era. The sound featured sampled guitars, huge drums, massive basslines and all contrasted fantastically with insane visuals. These featured spacey sci-fi worlds, cityscapes and even concert footage from stadium shows of yesteryear. It felt like a journey to another time, and I was invited along for the ride.

Half-way through the set, Kirkland took to the microphone to pay tribute to fellow big beat icon, Keith Flint, of The Prodigy fame, who unfortunately passed away in early 2019. He played their mega hit Firestarter, which then blew the lid off an already insane crowd.

Finishing off the show with the hits of Busy Child, Name of the Game and more was the obvious choice, but still sunk in deep with the audience of diehard fans. The real skill was in creating an almost two-hour set of constant big beat bangers, remixes and classics to bring the house down on a night of nostalgia, rave and pure ecstasy.

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[Review] The Killers @ Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne 13/12/2022

It wasn’t quite the summers night we were expecting but the fans turned out in force united by their love of music. The wait had been long, four very long years in fact, but the time had arrived, and The Killers were playing in Melbourne for the first of two capacity shows at Rod Laver Arena on their Imploding The Mirage tour. Hot off the back of their open-air show at Mt Duneed Estate Geelong which wrapped up to rave reviews, I was keen to see what all the fuss was about. Plenty had turned out early to nab a prime position, myself included, and I was thankful I did, as the crowd started packing in swiftly behind me.

Opening the coveted support slot was Alex Cameron who was looking the goods in his three-piece suit and definitely gave off the Brian Ferry vibes. Strutting through a 45 minute set he kept the fans entertained with lots of cheeky banter, endlessly reminding us of this sax player and business partner Roy Molloy and his backing vocalist/keyboard player Jess Parsons. He was shown plenty of appreciation from the ever-expanding crowd as he belted out songs such as Miami Memory and Sarah Jo. A terrific addition that had RLA singing along was a cheeky cover of Island’s In The Stream which was very well received. Having co-wrote quite a few tracks with The Killers he was quite comfortable on stage and had plenty of fans up front singing along to his songs.

Feeling well warmed up it was time to move on to the main event, the one we were all waiting for, Las Vegas rockers The Killers! The anticipation was building and the energy quite frenetic as the lights dropped to squeals of delight and the band filled the stage. Bursting out bringing the stage to life was vocalist Brandon Flowers was straight to it with My Own Soul’s Warning followed closely by Interlude. The stage was awash with lights, projections on the giant screens and confetti cannons turning Rod Laver into quite the spectacle as we were coated in the colourful offerings as they descended in slow motion. When You Were Young got the floor bouncing and showed just how tight The Killers are as a live band, Brandon making use of every corner of the stage as he delivered the mega hit with gusto. There was no time for chat between songs, packing in as much as they could in their allotted time, Jenny Was A Friend of Mine, Smile Like You Mean It and Shot At The Night flying out in rapid fire.

Human was coupled with intriguing videos on the big screen, covered with tiny boxes filled with dancing figures it was quite captivating.  Spaceman really hit the mark with Brandon easily making the transition from keyboard to launching off risers in a heartbeat. Engaging with the crowd on every level, and ripping out that stunning smile on autopilot, Somebody Told Me turned up the heat with red lights, smoke machines and lasers cutting a wicked picture across the stage, the energy was palpable in the arena as the floor moved as one collective group. Runaways gave us all a chance to catch our breath before we all welcomed a sing-a-long of “we can’t wait ‘til tomorrow” on repeat as Brandon told us to “think about it” it felt like a special moment and one I was glad to be a part of.

Another huge hit was Caution off the 2020 Imploding The Mirage album, this came complete with the whole rear of the stage igniting in sparklers projected out via baby smoke cannons, this was not just a feast for your eyes it was a whole banquet and we could not get a seat at the table quick enough.  All These Things That I’ve Done had all our voices primed and ready for ‘I’ve got soul, but I’m not a soldier’ which echoed back across Rod Laver as the masses didn’t miss an opportunity to be involved in this amazing spectacle as green and gold confetti exploded over us. With a speedy exit from the stage, it was time to start the chants and clapping to draw them back out, and it didn’t take long as they returned with The Man. With the arena on their feet, it was a glorious encore as the confetti cannons shot out million-dollar bills with Brandon’s picture showing he really is ‘The Man’ and of course I pocketed a few for prosperity’s sake. Bling (Confession of a King) from Sam’s Town was next up then the one we had all been waiting for Mr Brightside. Starting with a slower remix of the song I was left wanting but not for long as they jumped into the OG radio version and boy oh boy did Rod Laver erupt. Hands in the air, punters bouncing in unison, it was the perfect end to a spectacular live show and I now see why The Killers are one of the worlds biggest bands.

If you are yet to catch The Killers DO NOT miss this opportunity there are just a few shows left on the tour, so get out and see some live music and I guarantee the memory will make you Smile Like You Mean It for years to come!

Wed 14 Dec, 2022 Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne – Lic. All Ages

Sat 17 Dec, 2022 Hope Estate, Hunter Valley – Lic. All Ages

Mon 19 Dec, 2022 Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney – Lic. All Ages

and newly announced intimate show

Mon 19 Dec, 2022 Liberty Hall, Sydney – 18+

Tickets available: https://www.frontiertouring.com/thekillers 

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[Review] King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard @ Palais Foreshore, Melbourne 10/12/2022

There is something about outdoor gigs that really makes a live show shine to the max. May it be the atmosphere, the fresh air, the beautiful St Kilda scenery, or the inviting lack of condensation within crowds of people. These outdoor venues are certainly popular and drawing in the crowds time and time again. And what better way to enjoy such an event than with the legendary King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard.

Upon entering the Palace Foreshore venue, the vibe of the crowd was exactly as I envisioned; the smoke in which you can’t differentiate between the smoke machine or vaping teenagers and the sight of breskies passed around between patrons and fans alike. Civic swiftly opened the event with a very electric demonstration of local Melbourne Punk, with a very fitting visual look of the band members especially one of the guitarists with an axe hanging at his knees and a cigarette out his mouth. You could tell the crowd got pumped up with this energy awaiting the main event, fuelled by a local ferocity of youth wanting to express emotion through music that fit.

As the foreshore packed tightly together, punk band Civic was followed ever so closely by Stella Donnelly, and what can I say, the wholesome indie vibe of her performance really brought us together collectively, resonating with our youthful feeling of liberation and happiness through music. We looked through her apologetic complaints about her hairstyle (which visually trumped this self-feedback as the sun made her kissed-by-fire locks shine as bright as her musical capabilities) and gazed ever so admirably at a different but graceful alternative set of tunes. This support really stood out and I will be paying close attention to her musical journey, as I’m even at the moment enjoying her track Lungs, which was a personal highlight.

We crammed together awaiting the main act for the night, and even with an ever so casual entrance to a roar of applause and screams, the boys of King Gizz after a long year of touring were ready to perform a monstrous set on their home soil….and oh boy did they deliver.

The first half of their set perfectly set up among us with Crumbling Castle, The  Fourth Colour, and Planet B, all explosive tracks that created chaotic mosh pits that even I found myself in, and my enthusiasm heightened as I returned to my colleagues dripping in sweat with a dangling untucked shirt. Every individual member of the legendary local band perfectly demonstrated their technologically heightened music skills, from robotic, wavy synths, to Michael Cavanagh’s mind-blowing drum fills and solos, and the ever so entertained theatrics of the lead singers and guitarists, flipping their guitars around behind their backs wowing all of us.

The rest of the set felt incredibly ethereal and psychedelic, as the group performed veteran length versions of most of their hits filled with guitar/synth solos and the unbreakable groove between bass and drums that kept our feet tapping tirelessly. Even while admittedly unfamiliar with a lot of these live tracks, I found myself belting the chorus of Iron Lung, a song they described as “being about vaping”, along with newcomers and fans alike. Even people who had not experience the magic of King Gizzard were absolutely drawn to this funky, prog experience. I found myself in various trances, completely losing myself in this positively manipulative style of music, as my appreciation and love for these local boys grew exponentially.

I left the foreshore among the crowds of patrons absolutely stunned, as even I, who had a general understanding of their vibe, did not expect the magical experience King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard gave me, and I will ‘Fore-SHORE’ (hah, see what I did there) be catching more and more of their live sets in the coming years.

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[Review] Orpheus Omega @ Stay Gold, Melbourne 9/12/2022

As the year comes to a close, I sit here and reflect on the vast number of bands I have seen and written about in the last couple of months. What an experience it has been, multiple genres and bands from all over the world.

It then seems almost poetic and fitting for me, that my final review of the year is here at Stay Gold for the Kicking, Screaming and Live Streaming show by Melbourne’s very own Orpheus Omega.

Ironstone

The first thing that you notice about the opening band, Ironstone is how young they are! However, as soon as they start playing you realise that these boys have certainly spent their youthful years dedicated to developing their skills to be proficient at the progressive metal genre.

On their song, Staring at the Sun off their EP, The Place I Cannot Find, they showcased a good use of vocal harmonies and odd meter time signatures were in abundance that surely satisfied the prog fans.

It’s encouraging to see a new generation continue to push the musical boundaries and it’s gonna be interesting to see where they lead us next.

Scaphis

Sheathed in darkness and gilded in black war paint were Scaphis. I always love it when a band goes the extra mile to put on a show with costumes and makeup. Scaphis would have undoubtedly pleased the dark lord himself.

Blast beats, black metal-tremolo picked guitar rhythms abound and a voice straight out of the deepest recesses of Hell defiled  the stage at Stay Gold.

Yet Scaphis is more than just speed and brutality. Their songs also had segments of beautiful arpeggiated guitar lines combined with melodic leads. Vocalist Spyke, has a savagery in her performance and delivery that will turn your stomach and make your blood run cold.

Melbourne’s very own sons (and daughter) of Southern Darkness.

Andy Gillion

An 80’s synth wave sample played as drummer, Frankie Demuru teased his cymbals and the crowd. Then there he was, strutting out on stage in a glittering silver jacket, the virtuoso himself, Andy Gillion.

Backed by the formidable talents of Ryan Huthnance on guitar and Chris Themelco and Leon Monaco sharing bass duties.

The set began with the blistering, In the Arcade and 1988 off Andy’s new album, Arcade Metal.

There was plenty of fun and comedy coming from the lads on stage but make no mistake, they are no joke. This is technical ability at its highest level and an absolute masterclass for any guitarist or fan of virtuosic music. Sweeping, tapping, string-skipping and every technique under the sun were executed cleanly and precisely. However, Andy always considered in his compositions to prioritise melody and had a great ear for good phrasing.

Following this we were spellbound by  Becoming the Nightmare,

Becoming the Dream, Black Lotus and Skyless from Andy’s previous album, Neverafter.

Andy tells a story with his music and takes you on a journey with his playing. From the mystical and ethereal, to the dark and chaotic, you are transported there and back again by his imagination that is so beautifully presented before your very eyes.

It is a challenge trying to compare Andy Gillion’s music to other artists as he truly has a unique voice of his own, but I will say that his playing reminds me of Michael Romeo of Symphony X and the band Illnath, two hugely influential bands in the metal scene.

Andy Gillion truly is a special talent and Melbourne is all too keen to claim him and call him our own.

Orpheus Omega

Orpheus Omega were not only the headliners of the show but they had also organised the entire event and even managed to coordinate a live stream of the whole gig. A gargantuan task to achieve, but this tells you a lot about the kind of person Chris Themelco is. Vocalist, guitarist, bassist, organiser, audio engineer, the list goes on – and Chris excels at everything he does.

All this can only be achieved with intense passion, and that passion is exactly what you see come across when Orpheus Omega take the stage.

Together with brother, Matt Themelco on Drums, Luke Ashley on Guitar, Leon Monaco on Bass and Kes Gallagher on Keyboards and backing vocals, the boys played a phenomenal set of their newest material and fan favourites from early in their career.

Some of you eagle-eyed readers would have noticed that both Chris and Leon performed double duties and played bass with Andy Gillion in the previous set. I guess this is the epitome of do what you love.

The band plays with so much chemistry between members that you’d be forgiven for thinking that they were all brothers as they harmoniously navigate their way between aggression and melody.

The call and response vocals between Chris and Kes was perfectly executed as beautiful clean lines cascaded over blood-curdling screams.

The two new tracks, Within These Walls and Edge of Forever are already crowd favourites as was evident by the voices singing along with the band.

Chris then surprised us by announcing that the 2 new songs are part of an upcoming limited edition 5 track, vinyl only EP and any band that still recognises the value of vinyl is a good egg in my book.

A few days prior to the gig the band had posted on their Facebook page telling their fans to come dressed in their best party shirts for a very special segment of the live show. Looking out across the crowd it resembled more of a Hawaiian Tiki bar than a metal gig. This was the level of dedication that the Orpheus Omega fans had.

In their final song of the night, Sealed In Fate, Chris invited everyone in a party shirt up on stage to celebrate with the band. This was a magical moment and if there was a better way to cap off the night I don’t know it. Luke Ashley and Leon Monaco stepped down from the stage and stood in the middle of a circle pit as bodies raced around them like some kind of pagan ritual. Meanwhile, I had climbed on stage myself as I watched Kes Gallagher and Matt Themelco play to a fevered pitch. I’m pretty sure the fans wouldn’t have minded the set continuing for another hour but alas, all good things must come to an end.

It is clear that Orpheus Omega draw a lot of inspiration from the Melo-death genre but they have unequivocally made it their own and in the process created something that makes me proud to say that I’m from Melbourne and that I am a fan.

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Gig ReviewsReviews

[Review] Chase Atlantic @ Festival Hall, Melbourne 8/12/2022

When the LA based Chase Atlantic announced they were heading homebound to Australia for their Cold Nights tour I couldn’t help but get caught up in the excitement. I knew I had to be there in Melbourne to capture in person, their unique style of blurring the boundaries of genres. As I made my way to the upgraded venue of Festival Hall, the fans were already flocking in to get the best vantage point, so I joined the stream of people and got ready to immerse myself for the next few hours.

Opening tonight’s show was Queensland’s own Xavier Mayne. If you like The Weeknd then it’s pretty safe to say you might dig what Xavier is throwing down. He is definitely one to watch with his high energy performance jumping around all over the stage entertaining the crowd while being supported by drums and guitar. Long time Chase Atlantic fans may recognise Xavier from another project of his, The Young Art, who opened for Chase Atlantic back in 2016 on their Paradise tour.

Up next, Matthew Victor Kopp, who performs as Running Touch, was a clear favourite of the crowd when he hit the stage. For the fans who knew him as one of the founding members of Melbourne’s own OCEAN GROVE it seemed an extra treat to see him perform as part of his solo project. Starting his set atop a ladder, Matt alternated between various instruments and his microphone during the performance, much to the delight of the crowd, all while being accompanied by a drummer. His musical talent was evident and in full force, with the entire set being marked by his enthusiasm and unusual performance style.

As an intro video flashed on stage, the fully packed venue erupted into screams, the visuals on the screens continued: asteroids circling a smouldering planet, falling leaves and swirling heads.  Everyone could feel the rumble of the bass under foot as the headliner’s show began to unfold; one of the best feelings in the world. I didn’t think it was possible, but the enthusiastic crowd kicked it up a notch as Jesse walked out onto the stage. A fantastic way to begin the show, complete with fire bursting from various parts of the stage to warm up the crowd.

Starting off the night with the title track Beauty In Death from their 3rd studio album released in March last year. They immediately took charge of the crowd at the upgraded venue of Festival Hall. Lead vocalist Mitchel Cave was all over the stage in every position imaginable while maintaining his vocals with the passion the punters were there to see. Security was kept on their toes most of the evening handing out waters and pulling young ladies from the barriers that were a little overcome with the heat and excitement of seeing Chase Atlantic.

Jumping seamlessly from Too Late into Drugs and Money as if on cue, the crowd were almost as loud as the boys, singing every word of every line from their self-titled studio album, released back in 2017. There is no denying Chase Atlantic’s stage presence. Their limitless energy is infectious and makes you feel youthful.  Syncing perfectly with each other, the chemistry between them is flawless, and their smiles and banter on stage show that they are doing exactly what they love.

As each song bled into the next, including Cold Nights, Like A Rockstar & Slow Down, the audience were seen dancing, jumping and having an amazing time. It was impossible to find a single person who was standing still, and the mood in the air never dropped. In fact, as we galloped towards the end of the show, the crowd only grew louder, if that was even possible.

Although the show was over, you could still feel the overwhelming emotion oozing from the crowd as they left the venue, having just experienced a full-on, high energy Chase Atlantic show. This is one show you do not want to miss so if you are sitting on the fence, jump the hell off and buy the damn ticket!

You Can Can Still Catch Them 

 ENMORE THEATRE, SYDNEY
THURSDAY DECEMBER 15
 
THE TIVOLI, BRISBANE
FRIDAY DECEMBER 16
 
POWERSTATION, AUCKLAND
WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 21

For complete tour and ticket information, visit: livenation.com.au or livenation.co.nz

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