Review by Laurie Luke
It is my first time arriving at Red Hill Auditorium and I am immediately impressed. The layout is fantastic, the stage is clearly visible from all areas, with a view of Perth city, a backdrop of trees, what else could you want? An ever-growing mass of black shirts confirms my thoughts as we congregate for 7 and a half hours of prog rock/metal goodness. The weather is overcast with glimpses of sunshine and no wind, perfect for an outdoor gig. The rock gods have blessed us.
Local Trio YOMI SHIP open the final show of the Monolith Tour to a strong, early turnout with ‘Pantathians’ from their 2019 release ‘Pyramids Of Yonaguni’. Blending odd time signatures with psychedelic waves of reverb, the endless twist and turns throughout their set made certain the crowd were engaged in whatever gems were to unfold throughout their musical/instrumental journey. ‘Kawataro Spring’ and ’S.H.A.M.A.N’ from the 2021 EP ‘Of Agathara’ were highlights. Constant variation and musical sophistication never looked so easy with Jarrad, Jade and Nick allowing the music to do the talking. The hard rocking outro to ’Sea Monkey’ from 2017 EP YOMI SHIP was a crowd favourite with its unique blend of surf guitar vibes interwoven throughout the tune. If the musical expedition needed any more flavour, closing the set with the jazzy ‘Memory Man’ would be the final ingredient for the menu. Bon Appetit!
Sydney band RELIQA wasted no time hitting the stage with high energy, launching straight into their 2021 single ’The Bearer Of Bad News’. The band don’t shy away from genre blending, creating their own brew of progressive metal. When vocalist Monique Pym isn’t rushing the stage back and forth, the singer checks in with the crowd frequently between songs, solidifying the band’s connection with the audience. Pausing for a brief second to mention their EP ‘I Don’t Know What I Am’ which was released the previous day before launching into ‘Safety’ feat. Make Them Suffers Sean Harmanis. In what would be a staple of the festival, the musicianship was obviously a highlight, with each band member making it look effortless. RELIQA were no different in that regard. Closing their explosive set with the title track ‘I Don’t Know What I Am’ they could be assured they had won over new fans.
When the Doobie Brothers smash hit ‘Long Train Running’ finished playing over the PA a simple “Hello Perth” reintroduced Sydney band SLEEPMAKESWAVES to the Red Hill Audience. The second instrumental band on the bill, the quartet opened with their 2017 single ’Tundra’. By now the crowd are feeling good, the drinks are flowing, among other things and the stage lighting is getting a work out. Blasting their way through a selection of tunes from 2014 ‘Love of Cartography’ before closing the relentless set with the incredible, upbeat ‘Pyramids’. In all its big riffing glory, the crowd soaks it up. The only way to top the set would be to throw a guitar skyward, well…checkmate.
Third and final instrumental act, PLINI kicked off a master class in musicianship opening with ’The Glass Bleed Game’. There was an obvious buzz surrounding the set, and for very good reason. Tracks ‘Pan’ and ‘Papelillo’ from the 2020 record ‘Impulse Voices’ were followed by many “what the f##k?’ remarks from punters. Yes, the level is THAT GOOD. But it comes at a cost… Plini explained why he avoids telling jokes with the audience when covering for tech difficulties. He avoids audience jokes “because I always fuck them up”. Well, the stand up routine might suffer, and he won’t hit the comedic heights of Jerry Seinfeld, but all is forgiven when he straps on that guitar. 2016 ‘Handmade Cities’, ‘Cascade’ and set closer ‘Electric Sunrise’ solidified the buzz. It’s time to pick up my jaw and grab a drink.
Melbourne act OCEAN GROVE exploded onto the Red Hill stage next with clear intentions, now was the time to party. Dale Turner (Vocals) a ball of frenetic energy who moves like Keith Flint, along with the band, don’t let up until the set is finished. Songs like ’Superstar’ and ‘Junkies’ are obviously very different to the progressive wanderings/journeys of the previous bands, but judging by the reaction of the mosh pit, it was most welcomed. The energy levels were stoked continually to keep the fire burning between songs. An entertaining set could only be complete with Turner stage diving into the pit to sing ’Sunny’. Definitely an entertaining show.
Always a band to forge it’s own way, COG eased into their set with ‘Bitter Pills’ from the LP ‘Sharing Space’, before the familiar rantings of Luke Gower (Bass) signified the introduction of ‘Anarchy OK’. Brother Flynn Gower (Vocal/Guitar) took a moment to address the last few years and spoke about the importance “to just enjoy the music, now let’s go hard” and with that ‘What if’ with the extended outro rang out through the auditorium. Crowd favourite ‘Resonate’ was up next, ending with the Gower brothers in arms during the final lines “It’s elevating us, It’s resonating”. It was elevating and resonating with the crowd. Cog’s cover version of Leftfields ‘Open Up’ was a great feature and throwback. While ’No Other Way’ had everyone clapping in unison throughout the breakdown, a brilliant song. Receiving the biggest reaction from fans ‘Bird Of Feather” brought the set to close. Hopefully the wait won’t be as long until they return again.
‘Mumma, just killed a man, Put a gun against his head, Pulled my trigger now he’s dead, Mama life had just begun, But now I’ve gone and thrown it all away ”. Hometown heroes KARNIVOOL know how to prime a crowd before they play, and blasting Queens ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ over the PA speakers brought the entire venue together, in unison, at full volume. This is only the beginning, before the band set about leveling the place. Opening with ‘Fear Of The Sky’, it’s time to strap in and enjoy the ride, featuring an incredible light show and what would clearly be the best mix of the night. Next up, the thundering ’Simple Boy’ rolls in, drum and bass heavy, inspiring the crowd into chanting ‘Kar-ni-vool’ to which Ian Kenny (Vocals) replies “you’ll make us blush”. New tune ‘Animation’ hit all the right spots, while the local love fest continued rolling on with crowd favourite ’Themata’ lifting the gig to new heights. Drew Goddard (Guitarist) took a moment to emphasise the importance of being present in the moment, only to miss his cue during the next song. ‘I dropped the ball’ he laughed and the band kicked in once again. By default, moments like this actually make the audience more present and aware, it brings everyone together in the most positive way. Latest single ‘All It Takes’ sat well with the rest of the set, already sounding like a tune they’ve been playing live for many years. To wrap up the night, and the tour they played ‘Fade’ and the crowd made sure they enjoyed every last moment. An incredible finale to a fantastic day of Australian music. Let’s hope it becomes a regular event.
Photos by Rossco Hunter from Hunter Brothers Media