Deafheaven + High Tension + Hope Drone
The Corner Hotel, Melbourne
3 June 2016
Review by Will Oakeshott
Photos by Sofie Marsden
If there had to be a theme for this event, or one word which could best encapsulate not only the three world-class outfits who joined forces on this night, but also the occasion itself, this scribe believes ‘ambition’ would be the most accurate. All three bands wear this description as a badge of honour and push their boundaries to ensure the best representation of their art. The good fortune came to those who were at Corner Hotel to witness this extravaganza and similar to a Grand Slam tennis match, three sets were executed with some of the best strikes arguably known in the genre.
The opening set (continuing with the tennis theme) belonged to Brisbane’s Hope Drone, the youngest band to perform, but their post-black-metal formula screams maturity years above their actual age. An oddly polite yet spiritually bleak active stage persona, the quartet are completely absorbed by their art, undertaking their own adventure when playing songs from their stellar Cloak Of Ash album. The four-piece emitted a beautifully primitive energy during their showcase with an aggravated serenity and had the growing audience for the most part, captivated. If it were possible to add a cinematic value to Hope Drone’s live performance, as simple as a light show or if possible, a visual backdrop of sorts, the band could undertake a headline role without issue. However, for the first of the evening’s entertainment, this was a victory in enlivening the crowd.
Possibly the odd band out, Melbourne’s High Tension were incapable of allowing any difference to impact their live performance; if anything the quartet take this in their stride and amazingly changed the entire attitude of the show. Injecting a blast of muddy hardcore into the venue, it was literally seconds until the mosh-pit really became devastating, in the suitable way it should. Front-woman Karina Utomo was a woman possessed; clambering on and off the stage when the songs from Bully required it. The four-piece’s dynamic is otherworldly and it actually becomes more than just High Tension’s live show when they perform, it mutates into a group effort comprising of hundreds of people as it is near impossible not to join the antics.
Sadly, one punter decided that abusing a fellow female fan during the set was in order, but such behaviour is NEVER acceptable and once the band had noticed this inappropriate breach of conduct, the ‘criminal’ was escorted out, thankfully. Music does not ever condone such actions and it should never ruin an experience for any concert-goer. Besides this, High Tenno deserved the Tenno out of Ten that they often bring to the stage and the final set of the match was heavily anticipated without doubt.
San Francisco’s Deafheaven have in a sense achieved an ascension that they may have never thought possible; their progressive black metal (or blackgaze) is far from the idea of ‘radio play’ or even a sound which would suit some of the most elite festivals known in the world. But the quintet has the ‘ambition’ to change the rules, both in their sound and what can be accomplished. Just one night before the Corner Hotel show, the five-piece played at the Sydney Opera House as part of the Vivid Festival, a triumph that would have been unheard of only a handful of years before this night.
The Corner though was not a sit-down event; this was far from ‘perch and observe,’ this was ‘climb and scream.’ Within the first few notes of Brought To The Water, a near-riot exploded and it appeared that Deafheaven felt instantly more at home. Luna, Baby Blue, Come Back and Gifts For The Earth enraptured Melbourne into a frenzy which was composed mostly by vocalist George Clarke, whose conductor-style approach to being this prolific band’s front-man was hypnotic and entrancing. Amazingly the songs from New Bermuda translate unbelievably live, as the record was tracked to that ‘live’ idea to a large extent, this reflection was understandable but incredibly overwhelming too, in a positive manner. Without over dramatising the encore idea, the five-piece returned to perform Sunbather and Dreamhouse, which brought about an escalation in insanity as if Melbourne had been waiting years to hear these tracks.
Game, Set and Match!