Meshuggah + The Devin Townsend Project
02-Mar-2012 Factory Theatre, Marrickville (Sydney)
February 29, 2012
Reviewed by Sam Radojcin
Pix by Peter Zaluzny
Opening the evening’s proceedings was Californian progressive rockers dredg. Seeing as this was their first visit to Australia, prior to their set the band’s reception appeared to be uncertain. As they launched into “Ode To the Sun”, the band and especially vocalist Gavin Hayes seemed a little anxious performing in front of a new crowd, but thankfully the majority were open-minded and receptive to dredg’s ambient progressive stylings. In turn, the band played their hearts out, notably hard-hitting drummer Dino Campanella who put on a clinic for all budding tub-thumpers in attendance. The set was mostly comprised of older material like “Pariah”, “The Tanbark is Hot Lava”, crowd favourite “Bug Eyes” and “The Canyon Behind Her”, where everything strangely stopped suddenly as if the band was going through technical difficulties and confused a few punters. That said, there was little doubt that the band walked away having gained a few new fans.
Being a music fan, there is really nothing like a sold out show. You can feel the anticipation in the air and the crowd in attendance at Sydney’s Factory Theatre was more than ready for the double barrel, loaded barrage of Meshuggah and The Devin Townsend Project.
Usually the changeover between bands is a slow and boring affair, but we were treated to Ziltoid TV, an interesting and eye-opening romp with some completely out-there footage and music that only one man could compile. It has to be seen to be believed, but some of the footage included a Japanese exercise video with poodles working out, a bungee jumper defecating himself as he plunged, fake TV commercials and Ziltoid performing dance songs about mangoes and badgers. It was quite funny, but grew a bit tedious. That all changed as Ziltoid welcomed us to an evening of music in Boobaphonic sound and announced the arrival of a band that many were greatly anticipating – The Devin Townsend Project. Without hesitation, the band launched into “Truth” and the crowd went absolutely bananas, feeding off the insanely tight sonic barrage that was emanating from the stage. Townsend was in a very affable mood, bantering with the crowd, cracking jokes, making some of the most hilarious guitar solo faces and deprecating both the band and crowd by asking who the biggest nerds in attendance were, all with a huge grin plastered on his face. The set was comprised of a little bit of everything from Townsend’s solo and post-SYL career such as “Kingdom”, “Juular” (with accompanying visuals from the song’s video clip), “Deadhead”, “Supercrush” (that lived up to its name and then some), “By Your Command”, the delicate and emotional “Life” and “Planet of the Apes”, an 11 minute uber-epic that melted faces. Even if you aren’t the biggest fan of his music, the Devin Townsend live performance is something that has to be witnessed.
If there was a band who could follow an act like The Devin Townsend Project, it would have to be Sweden’s Meshuggah. Often imitated but never duplicated, they proved why they are lauded as they are as they slammed right into the sonic jackhammer of “Rational Gaze”, sending the crowd into a musical trance with plenty of people trying to head-bang to the shifting time signatures. Many were in awe of the frenetic, systematic guitar work of Fredrik Thordendal and Martin Hägstrom, the pulverizing bass of Dick Lovgren and drummer Tomas Haake's crushing polyrhythms. Jens Kidman shouted like a zombie gorilla, stalking the stage in his unique way. The setlist featured “Stengah”, “Lethargica”, “New Millenium Cynanide Christ”, the brain-bending “Bleed” that is a musical equivalent of undertaking a triathalon (especially in the case of Haake), the gargantuan “Straws Pulled at Random” and a new song from their forthcoming album Koloss, “Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave it Motion”. Given they are a very technical and intricate band, especially in the live format, it did become a bit of the samey after a while and coming on after the Devin Townsend Project with their mind-blowing visual and sonic performance did not really help. Let’s face it, a bunch of guys just standing there and playing instruments isn’t the most exciting visual, but Meshuggah’s pure aural assault more than made up for that.
From start to finish, the fans got their money’s worth from all of the bands, be it Townsend’s zany barrage, Meshuggah’s sonic stomp or even dredg’s progressive leanings. It is a rare chance to see the main two acts on a bill like this or even playing together for that matter. This was not just a gig, but a musical experience that will be hard for many who went to forget.
New Millenium Cyanide Christ
Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave it Motion
Perpetual Black Second
Straws Pulled at Random
The Devin Townsend Project:
Intro/The Mighty Masturbator
Planet of the Apes
By Your Command
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