Live Review: Cog, sleepmakeswaves, Switchkicker

15 July 2016 | 1:51 pm | Benny Doyle

"No one in the crowd wants this night to end."

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Some greats of the Australian hard rock game and a group of creative upstarts on the ascent have collected in the industrial pocket of Newstead to remind everyone about the power of a riff.

Catching bits of conversation in the beer garden, it’s obvious many fans thought they’d seen the last of Cog. We’re all-in on this night, and no one is giving less than everything — not the fans, not the bands. 

Nostalgia was always going to be unavoidable, but it’s enveloped us much earlier than anticipated with Adelaide sound manipulator Switchkicker on board as tonight’s opener. Accompanied by a human metronome on the kit, Dan Sutherland has the sounds of a full-strength band at his fingertips, triggering dense guitar work with one hand, owning his vocals with a microphone clutched in the other. If a dawn of the robots is ever upon us, a Switchkicker soundtrack would prove suitable.

We’re spoilt to have sleepmakeswaves — a band headlining this venue themselves only next month — supporting, and the Sydney post-rockers make a fist of their slot in front of a packed room. The beauty that they manage to capture with sounds far from ordinary is testament to their individual playing chops and collective imagination, Great Northern a perfect five-minute distillation for the uninitiated. And not even appendix surgery can slow down guitarist Otto Wicks-Green, who offers just as much intensity as his fellow sleepers.

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Two Mountain Goat tins later and gunfire rings out from the speakers. An impassioned roar fills the room. The Gower brothers, Flynn and Luke, take sides under their respective spotlights, while a focused Lucius Borich disappears behind his percussive fortress. The sounds of war then dissipate, the intro riff of Doors starts swirling and the journey begins — Cog fire up the engine and it hums like a ride that’s just left the showroom.

The setlist offers pure gluttony for fans. Sharing Space gems are spliced in between uncompromising older cuts like Resonate and Real Life. An industrial rave threatens when Leftfield cover Open Up is dropped. Luke Gower’s bass line is possessive. And when the trio all lend their voices simultaneously to various choruses, it provides this raw human platform from which Flynn’s guitar work can soar.

The Spine is as winding and volatile as ever. When that riff denotes at the five-twenty mark, it fucking levels the hangar. Flynn gives the lyrics of Bird Of Feather a subtle update in line with his daughter’s passing years. Then, just as we arrived, we depart, with another ten-minute sonic prism in the form of No Other Way. The boys give thanks, wave, file off. No one in the crowd wants this night to end. It’s probably the best show Cog have ever played in Brisbane, and it’s impossible to do the experience justice with mere words.

The following that Cog cultivated during their peak in the mid-'00s bordered on the fanatical, and to see that devotion not only maintained, but potentially growing further since they went on hiatus back in 2011, shows just how important this band remain.

In Cog we trust… always.