Live Review: Intervals, Polyphia, I Built The Sky

24 September 2018 | 11:06 am | Rod Whitfield

"Marshall and his band take the robust crowd on a wild and wonderful, 75-minute instrumental ride."

More Intervals More Intervals

It’s been a veritable feast for lovers of progressive and instrumental heavy music in Melbourne in recent weeks, and so it continues with this superb three-way line-up. Not a vocal or line of lyrics to be heard, just musicianship of the most scintillating calibre and fun vibes all round.

Opening proceedings are Rohan Stevenson's local three-piece outfit I Built The Sky. Tonight IBTS features a fill-in drummer who does an admirable job. In the greater scheme of things, in the overall canon of progressive instrumental music and even in the context of this evening’s line-up, IBTS’s compositions are relatively simple, straightforward instrumental rock pieces. Their appeal comes from the freight train-level momentum created by the trio, with Stevenson’s sweet and dextrous lines slicing beautifully through the bombast, his fingers flying across the fretboard in a melodic frenzy. Recent single Celestial rounds the 30-minute set out in thundering and triumphant style. 

‘Poly’, as a prefix, means ‘many’, and it is highly appropriate in the case of American instrumental four-piece Polyphia. They utilise polyrhythms and layer time upon time like they were born to do so. To describe them as highly skilled technicians would be doing them an injustice, they are actually indescribably good on their instruments. Of course, that would all be worth nothing if they couldn't write and carry a tune and put on an entertaining live show, and these guys manage to write vocal-free pieces that are ultra-catchy and cohesive and put on a fun and highly engaging live show. Bassist Clay Gober is the ‘star’ of their show, if there is one, acting as a frontman with his encouraging and witty between-song banter urging, almost pleading with the crowd to mosh and crowd-surf (which they duly do). Polyphia’s music is a strange concoction, but it works a treat on record and it reaches another level again live. 

We even get a neat little drum solo from dynamic skinsman Clay Aeschliman that manages to be interesting and bombastic at the same time.

Intervals main man Aaron Marshall proudly and happily announces that he is there to play some "dirty instrumental guitar music" and that’s exactly what he and his fabulous band do. Opening with the propulsive Touch And Go and the snakier, although no less powerful, Impulsively Responsible, Marshall and his band take the robust crowd on a wild and wonderful, 75-minute instrumental ride, playing most of his recorded career so far. Marshall exudes easy confidence and swagger as he plays and typically Canadian niceness in his relaxed but grateful stage banter. The band behind him clicks in tighter than a clenched fist, and when you put it all together, Intervals are one hell of an entertaining live package. Heavy instrumental music really has learned how to put a smile on punters’ faces in the last few years, and this project/band are at the forefront of that movement.

The last two weekends have seen Tesseract, David Maxim Micic, Mestis, Intervals and Polyphia gracing our stages and blinding us with their wizardry. Add some spectacular locals into the mix on those bills and it’s been a prog nerd’s wet dream. Let it continue.

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