Live Review: Karnivool - The Hi-Fi

9 July 2012 | 6:57 pm | Jaye Weatherburn

Karnivool are accomplished to the point of being a truly phenomenal live band, easily able to captivate their adoring fans.

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The Hi-Fi is filling up early for sleepmakeswaves, and from the first note of the set it's clear why. The four-piece are incredibly tight and their impassioned energy heightens the mood in the room. These musicians use the stage well, moving with various, strange bodily contortions to their fierce instrumental rock while their faces twist into silent open-mouthed screams. The dynamic range is impressive, swinging wildly from atmospheric interludes to head-banging rock. The intensity and mad skills make for a great opening.

All the elements are in place for Redcoats tonight: a swaggering frontman with magnetic crowd-eye contact and great voice, ubiquitous stoner-rock long hair and authentic, '70s style and rhythm. But the band can't seem to find the pace and flow to really make an impression. It could be the lack of variety in the songs or the slightly underdone performance, but unfortunately Redcoats only manage to nudge the crowd without moving them.

“Karn-i-vool! Karn-i-vool!” The crowd chants to the dark, smoky stage. It takes another few minutes for the band to emerge to rapturous cheering for their first of three sold-out performances. Karnivool delivers precisely what the fans are here for: singalong crowd favourites from albums Sound Awake and Themata. Tracks, Goliath and Simple Boy, are given expert flourishes without the band being bored with the routine. They are effortlessly superb on stage; perhaps touring has given them this polished, relaxed discipline. The crowd swells into a devotional frenzy; one girl squeals, “I fucking love this song!” as the band starts Deadman. Mid-song, a completely epic moment happens as the entire room sings the sweet, slow melody and almost drowns out suave frontman Ian Kenny. What is most intriguing about the night is the new material on offer. It displays finesse on a different level than on their previous albums; it is technical with many incredibly adept time and key changes, possibly best served by repeated listens once it's released. The tightly locked bass and drums serve as a springboard for the soaring vocals in this complex, emotional music. Karnivool are accomplished to the point of being a truly phenomenal live band, easily able to captivate their adoring fans. From the slow simmer of sleepmakeswaves and Redcoats to the boiling point of Karnivool, a welcome reminder thunders out into the night: rock is not dead, it's alive and kicking in Melbourne town.