Review by Billy Geary
On Sunday night in Melbourne; Periphery, Tesseract and Twelve Foot Ninja claimed gig of the year. It’s that simple. Upon arriving 20 minutes before the doors opened, in order to get barrier spots, the line to get in was already stretching 75 metres down Swanston St, causing that idea to be promptly dismissed. To put it in perspective, the other shows on this tour were at venues with capacities of 400-500 people and only Sydney managed to sell out.
The Hifi, a 1200 capacity venue, was forced to turn people away after about 8pm. Not a bad effort for a band on their first headline tour of Australia.
Thus, when Melbourne’s very own genre benders Twelve Foot Ninja took to the stage with their reggae/dub/funk influenced metal at a very early 8pm, the Hifi was already three quarters full. Opening their set with the very heavy, very unique ‘Portrait #2,’ Twelve Foot Ninja instantly converted the entire room into fans – added to the relatively large pocket of people up the front belting out the lyrics to favourites ‘War,’ ‘Molotov Brother’ and ‘FEAR.’ By the time the synth intro to ‘Clarion’ roared through the PA, Twelve Foot Ninja were threatening to steal the show, making it clear that they are indeed a world class band. To quote a member of Periphery after the gig, ˆTwelve Foot Ninja are basically one of the best live bands I have ever seen, “ and after that glowing endorsement, nothing more needs to be said other than I wholeheartedly agree with them.
After what Twelve Foot Ninja had just served up, UK progressive metallers Tesseract had a lot to live up to and being their first time down under, it would have been understandable for there to be a few jitters. This however, was not the case. The six-piece picked up straight where Twelve Foot Ninja let off, pushing the crowd into a frenzy with ‘Hollow’ and then the triple punch of ‘Deception,’ ‘The Impossible’ and ‘Perfection.’ Lead singer Dan Tompkins is without a doubt one of the best vocalists in metal today, moving from soaring vocals to screams and back again with ease. ‘Deception’ provided one of the biggest sing-a-longs of the night, with over a thousand punters belting Tesseract’s lyrics back at them. Rounding out the set with more tracks off their debut album One, Tesseract had the crowd eating out of the palm of their hands, with ‘Nascent’ and ‘Acceptance’ leaving the front ten rows of people in a proverbial tangle of limbs and sweat. An hour earlier, Twelve Foot Ninja had played the best set I’d seen all year. By the end of their set, Tesseract had not only done that, but also had played what was probably the best set I’ve seen from an international band. An incredible set from an incredibly talented group of musicians.
Returning to Australia for just the second time, by the time headliners Periphery walked on stage, the Hifi was packed to the rafters. Playing to a crowd that was more than double the size anything they’ve played to on any headlining tour, the sextet were visibly ecstatic to be playing to such a huge crowd. The band ripped through songs taken mostly from their debut album with ‘Insomnia’ and ‘Buttersnips’ proving going down a treat, while the slower ‘Jetpacks Was Yes!’ saw another huge sing-a-long. Vocalist Spencer Sotelo, sometimes maligned for his vocals, was pitch perfect throughout, quite a feat given how much he threw himself around the stage. ‘Zyglrox’ saw lead guitarist and Periphery founder Misha Mansoor show off his ridiculous talents with a seven-string guitar, while drummer Matt Halpern was a force behind the kit. Then, after tearing through tracks like favourites ‘Frak the Gods’ and ‘Icarus Lives,’ Periphery were gone and the enormous crowd were left screaming for more.
Returning with an encore of ‘Walk,’ the band’s heaviest track saw Sotelo leap headfirst into the crowd, which sent the punters up the front over the edge as he surfed his way back to the front. As the last riff rang out, the packed out Hifi gave a massive roar of approval and with that, the band left the stage, closing up what had been an amazing night of music. An incredible display of the sheer quality of metal that is being produced lately in Australia, and abroad. Sunday night was, without a doubt, the gig of 2011.
Review by Billy Geary
Presented by Alt Music Hub, Hysteria Mag and Soundwave Touring