"The two guitarists and bass players lifted their respective instruments in the air like weapons as salute to their fans."
On the rare occasion a show will come up where any preconceived expectation of how many people are going to attend or what to expect is completely unknown. For this writer, there was certainly an element of trepidation about those aforementioned factors, but arriving at the luminescent glow of Fowler’s Live and seeing a line-up encompassing the stairway and further, excitement took over admiringly.
Local doom sextet Space Bong emerged from what seemed an eternal absence to open the event, which probably took a number of the elder attendees by surprise, but likely positively. The six-piece’s death/doom metal, which could be summarised as if Black Sabbath married Converge and their spawn was taught music by Eyehategod (that reads as a baffling fusion, but it works superbly), the outfit executed their role as opening band exquisitely. Vocalists Jamie Brockenrow and Kegan Daly exchanged intense barks and growls like professional tennis players debating whilst guitarist Dave Gibson was commanding in a leadership role, concluding the set shredding his guitar on his knees. Space Bong were easily the heaviest for the night, but it was a very welcome difference and return to the live setting.
California’s denim clad fuzz metal punk rockers The Shrine had their work cut out start off, the trio appearing to be caught in the wrong decade, the world having carried on without them. It was a concern to begin with, but this apprehension quickly became appreciation as the talent of these three skate metal punks was showcased to their full extent. Guitarist and vocalist Josh Landau could best be described as superhuman – his talent had this scribe forgetting who Andrew Stockdale was completely, or for that matter even the names of the singles that came from Wolfmother’s best album and self-titled debut. The Shrine were exhilarating, simply put, and with songs like Tripping Corpse, Bury Me and new song, Coming Down Quick, from a forthcoming album being performed to near perfection. I’m assured that, like myself, many of the audience members were regretting not discovering the band sooner. Time to buy a skateboard and a Walkman it would seem.
A lengthy delay added some unnecessary pressure to Victorian hard-rocking two-piece King Of The North, as it seemed that the use of their own equipment was mandatory. For a local act to follow what The Shrine had put forth just minutes before was certainly going to be a challenge. But these two gentlemen definitely presented a stellar effort and had a significant crowd to inspire them. There’s no denying the incredible chemistry between Andrew Higgs and Danny Leo; the hits they were playing, including Surrender, Take It Or Leave It and Watch It Die, had the crowd completely captivated. However, even with an impressive similarity to Audioslave, it just wasn’t enough to overshadow The Shrine. Still, if Australia is producing talent of this calibre, we’re one extremely fortunate nation.
It had been an impressive journey thus far, but it was time to experience what a near capacity crowd had come to Fowler’s for on this night. Portland’s stoner rock boozers Red Fang made little fuss about climbing onto the stage; they all faced each other, shook hands and then launched into their assault. It should be noted that the four gentlemen who make up Red Fang are not in the prime of their youth, but they have a wealth of knowledge that shines through when they perform. Dirt Wizard, Number Thirteen, Good To Die, Into The Eye and Wires were all clear highlights which even inspired a mosh pit. When the two guitarists and bass players lifted their respective instruments in the air like weapons as salute to their fans, it provoked a deafening roar of cheers that’ll be unforgettable for both band and audience alike. There wasn’t to be an encore this time, but for many the party went well into the night. This event was without doubt a surprise, but of the best kind.