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[LIVE REVIEW + PHOTOS] MESHUGGAH and Supports, Melbourne, 14th March 2017

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Band: Meshuggah
Support: Thy Art Is Murder
Venue: 170 Russell
Date: 14/03/17
Words by Mitch Alexander

I’m sure my thoughts on Thy Art Is Murder have been documented elsewhere before, but it’s worth repeating what they were before I enthral you with my new, updated Hot Take on the Western Sydney deathcore/soap opera extravaganza.

Before last night, I thought Thy Art were one of the world’s best-recorded deathcore outfits, with some of the most compelling and heavy songs around, and I thought they utterly wasted it live, by refusing to do anything more than bob their serious looking heads and occasionally “head bang” in a way that looked like they were perpetually forgetting whether or not they had tied their shoes. After seeing them last night, nothing and everything (about my opinion has changed).

I have never, never, seen an opening/support band get such an impressive response from a room. The way the crowd reacted to every song, and every joke from CJ, you could’ve told me it was their own headline show, and I only would’ve been confused as to why so many people were in Meshuggah shirts. The crowd loved them, which stands as a testament to a lot of things; to Meshuggah’s ever increasing cross-over appeal; to Thy Art’s magnificent songwriting; to the fan’s tolerance for a boring live show.

Even when having one of the best responses an opening band could hope for they never manage to look anything more than mildly disinterested, like they’re in year 8 and somewhat embarrassed by having their mums up the back. CJ, to his, was much more engaging than usual, even going for a crowd surf at one point, which again, highlights how absurdly generous the crowd was being to a support act. They loved them. I liked them but wish they did something more on stage.

At this point, I think I’ve seen Meshuggah about nine times, and while nothing will compare to their first ever Australian show at The Arena, in Brisbane, this show came damn close. They were as tight as they always are, and if you’ve seen them before you know exactly what you’re getting here. But they had three extra things going for them tonight; their sound, their set, and their incredible light show.

For a band that pioneered down tuned dissonance, the sound was superbly heavy and crystal clear, with a special mention going to the very natural sounding kicks (which I really hope weren’t triggered) and the bass guitar, which cut through at the most opportune moments to give an odd and delightfully uncomfortable tone to the set.

I’ve always felt like Meshuggah’s live sets were lacklustre. It’s probably just down to taste, but for one song of theirs I enjoyed live, I’ve thought they usually manage to pick 2 or 3 I’m just not that into. Maybe this tour sucks for my opposite but equal doppelganger out there, but save for only two songs from an hour and a half set; I loved every single track they played.

The lighting set up, however, really stole the show. With roughly four and a half billion lights crammed on stage, presumably causing rolling blackouts across the Western Suburbs, Meshuggah’s light show was a surreal and immaculate display. I don’t know whether or not the band programmed it themselves, but the entire set had lighting queues set down to individual 16th notes. It was absurd. My favourite part of the night, purely because of how silly it was, was the single flash of a strobe programmed to one interstitial 16th note during the verse of Stengah; the timing was perfect, every single time, and it filled me with such joy to know how much time, money, manpower, and non-renewable energy was sunk into making that one set of strobes light up in a way they’re not even really designed for. Just from one little flash.

I won’t go into the details of the light show because part of the joy was watching it unfold as it happened, and besides, my words won’t do it justice. It was like a big heavy sunset. But I will say that it made me appreciate the music more, in that I had a visual representation of the sounds, and I could more fully understand just how musically complicated and fucked Meshuggah still are, and always have been.

Meshuggah have always been great live, still are. But this tour has seen them take it up another level, somehow, and as a long time fan, I couldn’t be happier about that.


Photography by: 
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