Live Review: COG “Between Oceans” Tour @ The Hi-Fi, Brisbane – 11th June 2009

Review by Bec

[Photo: Stuart Blythe]
   Cog fans are a loyal bunch. They’ll come up to you and tell you how great their band is. “Sold out. Melbourne Hi-Fi, and now here,” one fan tells me. (He waits until he sees me write this in my notebook.) They’ll bear the unusually cold Thursday night to happily wait in line. And they’ll keep coming back to see Cog live – for some fans this is their fourth or fifth gig. Little wonder, if you believe what another fan proclaims: “Best live band – ever”. That’s a pretty big call.

Certainly, Sydney-based Cog is a WYHIWUG (what-you-hear-is-what-you-get) band. If you love their CDs then you’ll love their live shows. No disappointment there. Lead singer, Flynn Gower’s vocals, like his stage presence, are deliberate, steady and enunciated. He’s obviously a dedicated musician as are other band members, Lucius Borich, on drums, and Luke Gower on bass who is extremely animated on stage.

Cog is nothing but a solid, powerhouse prog rock group. Their music seems best suited to hearing it loud and live; it wants to burst forth. It’s uber-masculine. Dense, relenting vocals layered with sweet hooky riffs and bass-driven rock make the hour and a half gig a head-nodding, fist-flailing and floor-stomping experience.

And the crowd knows what to expect and is impatient. Punters endure ten minutes of being teased by sounds behind the purple (yes!) stage curtains: random drum beats raise a few screams – (silence) – then the hook from title song, “Sharing Space”, plays and they’ve had enough; they relinquish and chant loudly for Cog.

The set opens with the haunting/spacey/weirdo sounds of “Doors”: a mix of what sounds like thunder, thuds and lasers, as the band gets ready on stage (a little strange – seems too casual and unprepared; maybe Cog doesn’t go for pretentiousness?) But the fans love them. They know their songs and happily sing along with them. And it doesn’t seem Cog can fail them; they are musically solid. Is it any wonder that Cog sold out gigs in Surrey Hills’ Excelsior Hotel every Wednesday for three months at the beginning of their music career?

They let their music speak; Flynn doesn’t talk much to the audience. The first time is when he introduces their fifth song, “Silence is Violence” from their breakthrough CD, “The New Normal”. Another time is to thank supporting acts: Melbourne-based three-piece group, “Calling all Cars”, who open the night; and post-metal group, “Oceansize”, from Manchester, a five-piece group who have a crazy, experimental and continually misleading arrangement: songs that build using Coldplayesque melodies (I see a female punter make butterfly movements with her hands) have punk choruses. Great stuff! You get the impression that their music comes together just as haphazardly, for each band member is in their own world on stage. The stand-out is lead singer and lead guitarist, Mike Vennart, who looks like a clean Sid Vicious, and is a bit of an exhibitionist, turning his back on the audience in their second song to play his guitar over his back. But back to Cog

Silence is Violence” is awesome, powerful, a true screamer and different to their next, “Sharing Space”, which is long and atmospheric, fading to low purple light. It’s here that Flynn makes his first break from the mic to mix it with the others. His finally letting go is somewhat of a relief and the crowd likes it.

Swamp” is raw and demanding: “the government/has gotta go”. I see punters playing air guitars; another goes into a kind of convulsive screaming dance; and a third beats his chest and gives his friends a thumb’s up. Cog are serious role models for twenty-something Aussie blokes.

The gig ends with probably their best songs from “Sharing Space” and their most political: “What if”, , “Bird of Feather”, Cog’s anthem song, and finally, the pensive and mellower tones of “Problem, Reaction, Solution”. It’s “Bird of Feather”, though that finally gets the sell-out crowd in the Brisbane Hi-Fi Bar moving. Flynn asks rhetorically, “Is it loud enough?” The crowd goes off, singing, “Only trying to make it better/Is there no other way?” without needing any encouragement. It is a little “insane”, as die-hard Cog fan, Ian, from Wynnum West, puts it.

Cog plans to take a break from the live circuit once they conclude their “Between Oceans” tour, to record another album. So, Cog fans…you’ll just have to be patient.

Set List
The Movies Over
Are you Interested?
Say your last goodbye
Silence is Violence
Sharing Space
How Long
What if?
Bird of Feather
Problem, Reaction, Solution

COG’s Sharing Space Goes Gold
COG “Between Oceans” Tour @ The Hi-Fi, Brisbane – 11th June 2009 – lead up article