REVIEW by Billy Geary
As Melbourne’s Soundwave week continued into Wednesday night, it was time to head to the beautiful Forum Theatre for a taste of some of the most original music the massive line up had to offer.
As somewhat the black sheep of Wednesday night’s line-up, art rock band dredg more than held their own against the heavier headliners. After a few false starts in recent years, this was their first venture to Australia and quickly won over the predominantly metal focused crowd. Opening with two of their most well known songs in ‘Ode to the Sun’ and ‘Bug Eyes’ was a smart move, as the band commanded attention from the start. ‘Bug Eyes’ in particular got a great response, its chorus sounding majestic within the confines of The Forum.
Following ‘Light Switch,’ dredg treated us to an incredible rendition of ‘The Canyon Behind Her,’ which sparked rapturous applause from the ever-growing crowd, with Gavin Hayes’ sublime vocals commanding attention throughout. It was clear there were quite a few punters at The Forum attending purely for dredg such that, along with excellent quality of their short set, will hopefully give reason for them return to our shores sooner rather than later on their own tour.
After a very quick change over, Swedish five-piece Meshuggah jolted The Forum awake with their intense brand of poly rhythm laced metal. For the entirety they had the entire audience transfixed, leaving little wonder as to why they are regarded as one of the best and most original metal acts in recent times. With the force of a stampede of elephants, Meshuggah opened their set with ‘Rational Gaze’ and didn’t break the intensity for the next hour.
After delighting punters with a new track taken off their upcoming album Koloss in ‘Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave It Motion,’ the quintet tore through a pounding rendition of live staple ‘Bleed’ which typically received the biggest roar of their set. At this point in the set, the crowd were completely losing it with Meshuggah’s sheer intensity and aggression inciting plenty of headbanging and crowd surfing. Much of the bands intensity stemmed from front man Jens Kidman who was equal parts impressive and scary, such was the onslaught of his vocals. Mention has to be made to drummer Tomas Haake who is easily one of the best drummers in metal today and to witness him playing live is something else all together, as was shown during ‘Pravus’ and ‘Lethargica.’ Closer ‘Straws Pulled At Random’ saw the moshpit hit new highs in terms of bodies flying around. Then, as quickly as it had begun, Kidman was saying his thankyous and leading the band off stage to a deafening roar of approval from the crowd.
Finally, after some light entertainment courtesy of a video screen and Ziltoid TV (look it up!), The Devin Townsend Project walked out to a huge response. Despite being let down by a dodgy mix, Devin Townsend and co. immediately sent The Forum into overdrive. Ever the showman, the man known as Hevy Devy was wowing the crowd from the moment he walked on stage, opening with decidedly epic renditions of ‘Truth,’ quickly followed by ‘Regulator.’
With almost all of the seriousness of Meshuggah’s earlier set gone, having been replaced by fart jokes and over the top musicianship, the crowd looked to be having the time of their life. Song of the night came in the form of ‘Planet of the Apes,’ taken from The Devin Townsend Project’s 2011 album Deconstruction, while ‘Supercrush!’ and ‘Juular’ also drew great responses. The sheer over the top nature of DTP’s set is what made it so enjoyable, with Townsend perfectly matching technicality with showmanship. An encore of ‘Seventh Wave’ and ‘Bend It Like Bender’ saw what was a thoroughly entertaining set draw to a close, leaving the crowd satisfied yet begging for more.
Wednesday night at The Forum was an absolutely outstanding display of some of the best experimental music in the current musical climate. The fact that these three bands were able to completely sell out The Forum is a testament to this. An excellent night of heavy music at one of the best venues in Melbourne.
Review by Billy Geary
** Interview: Mårten Hagström – MESHUGGAH
** Live Review: Devin Townsend @ The Tivoli, Brisbane 12 March 2010
** Photo Gallery: Devin Townsend Project with Contrive @ The Tivoli, Brisbane 12 March 2010
** Photo Gallery: Meshuggah, Paramore, Placebo, Taking Back Sunday, Clutch @ Soundwave Festival, Brisbane 2010