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KARNIVOOL, SLEEP TALK: Fortitude Music Hall 24/05/24

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Words by Kyra-Jade Coombs

Pix by Kaotic Images

Listening to Karnivool takes me right back to sitting on the train going to high school with their 2005 album Themata playing on my iPod nano from start to finish. I would say this is arguably the perfect way to start your day. Growing up in Perth, you take pride in bands that have managed to crack the curse of the West and make it. I lived a mere 15 minutes from where Karnivool was born and adored the absolute shit out of this band. Having said all this, I somehow never managed to see them play live.

My sister Jess and I were however lucky enough to catch Ian Kenny’s other band Birds of Tokyo play in a theatre backed by a symphony orchestra and knew exactly what Kenny is capable of, I still get goosebumps thinking about how impactful that show was to me. Flash forward to now, and I was finally on my way to go see this bucket list band at Fortitude Music Hall in Brisbane.

All of their Tri Continental Drift shows have sold out, and I already knew that the venue would be shoulder to shoulder with other eager fans waiting to usher in the first show of the tour. Karnivool really do cater to so many walks of life. I look around and see fresh 18-year-olds, prog fans (so many Cog shirts), the token Dad rock style, alternative folks and a few of my emo kids floating about. It really doesn’t matter what you look like, everyone was playing nicely and there for the same reason…music.

Opening the show tonight was Adelaide’s Sleep Talk. I haven’t heard any of their music and only knew that they were described as a hardcore band. From the moment they took the stage, you could see they were equally excited and nervous, looking out at the packed room. From the start of their first song, it was clear that they had a lot more to offer than only hardcore. The drummer laid down the beat to their songs hard and very precisely, which complimented the singer’s vocals well. The two guitarists were serving up some melodic guitar work and some cool moments mirroring each other’s chords. I got to hand it to the bass player though because every time he played solo the crowd went crazy and that is almost unheard of for the humble bass player! Too good. Sleep Talk accomplished their job and got the crowd moving and excited. There was some two-step action going on around me as everyone got into their music. They have just released a new EP Go Be Happy, so go give them a listen and be sure to let them know what you think.

Waiting for Karnivool to take the stage felt like an eternity. There was so much smoke being pumped into the crowd from the stage, I thought we were waiting to be greeted by some type of mysterious wizard. We waited for so long I had the chance to look around the venue and wonder how sure of yourself you had to be to suspend such a large chandelier directly on top of the punters, I mean, what could go wrong?

Anyway, intrusive thoughts aside, the lights went down and that meant it’s finally showtime, baby!

Steve Judd takes his drum throne and begins to pump out the start of All It Takes as the other band members slowly emerge from the smoke one by one. A fantastic taste of what tonight is going to be all about and a peek into the high standard of music that is yet to come.

Second song off the bat is Cote, and I felt my heart beating out of my damn throat. Giving us a throwback so early on certainly was a treat. I couldn’t help but notice that their bass player Jon Stockman moves and gives off the same energy of Jinger’s Eugene Abdukhanov and is a pure delight to watch play.

Being able to watch Mauseum live was something that will live rent-free in my brain for a long time. The sheer volume of the crowd singing along with Kenny was magic. I had goosebumps from head to toe and felt borderline teary, sensing the energy that was in the room.

Ian Kenny had a few words with the crowd, giving thanks to fans both new and old and saying that it has been a while since they’ve played in Brisbane, or anywhere in fact. His kind nature makes you feel like you’ve known each other for years and a part of the Karnivool family.

I have to mention how special and talented the band is, managing to transition through their new, old and in-between tracks absolutely effortlessly. Kenny’s vocals are done with such emotion you could listen to him all night as he calmly floats around the stage, dances to the beat of his own drum and serenades you. The band is a major powerhouse. Mark Hosking stopped to give thanks to the crowd for showing up and selling out the show, when really should be giving thanks to Karnviool for giving us such amazing music and a night to remember.

In my eyes, they are kings in the Australian progressive scene and the only prog band I actually genuinely like. Don’t even get me started on my thoughts of Tool… Before we knew it, we were on the last song of the night, New Day, closing out a fucking great show. If you managed to secure a ticket to their upcoming shows you are in for such a treat and if you missed out, you will just have to wait until they are back from their overseas tour to bask in all their glory.

Until next time, folks.

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