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LIVE: SERAPHIC at The Brightside, Fortitude Valley on 18/08/17

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Nine hours before the doors were meant to open, Brisbane’s Flynn Effect were put in the unfortunate position of having to pull out from headlining what was to be the official release show for their new full-length album ‘Obsidian’.

The show must go on! With barely any time available, two-fifths of Brissie hard-rockers Ravens Lair stepped in to open the night as an acoustic duo, with vocalist Lizzie Alexander and guitarist Misha Gursky taking the stage. The crowd was small at this point, but it did not concern these guys one bit. Their opening track was a cover of Bring Me The Horizon‘s ‘Sleepwalking’. Delivered via two acoustic guitars and one extraordinary voice, what I thought may have started a little slowly, turned into a wonderful rendition of the original. The duo continued through two more originals, building with intensity each time and getting some energy into the crowd. Most notable was their penultimate song, ‘Let It All Out’. Lizzie put the guitar down and belted out, quite honestly, one of the most prodigiously power-bridled and uber-sultry songs I’ve heard for a very long time. They really held the attention of every person in the room. I’ve not seen these guys live before and if they can deliver such an energetic acoustic performance, their full show is certainly something that must be experienced.

Next up were fellow Brisbaniacs Periapsis. As was a running theme of the night, these guys were also admittedly under-the-weather but that did not stop them delivering a blistering performance. At the end of the first song, a punchy mid-tempo offering, vocalist Andrea Reed stated ‘that’s our slow one!’. And she was right. The rest of the set was a blistering performance including an accomplished cover of Karnivool‘s classic ‘Goliath’ in which Reed delivers a vocal performance that would make Ian Kenny proud. The highlight of the set was the quick interlude taken by the vocalist to discuss domestic violence, an excellent use of her short time in the public eye to bring light to a serious social issue. Plaudits from this writer. At the end of their set, the crowd was in full voice and demanded an encore, apparently the first time they’ve ever been asked for an encore. The night was ahead of schedule so Periapsis were able to indulge in one more song which really started a snowball of energy that carried through to the close of the gig.

After leaving Sydney at 4 a.m, driving 10 hours, bringing a Sydney strain of flu and indulging in a reasonable amount of libation, it was the turn of Mercury Sky to take the stage. There was not a lot of room to move on stage for these guys, and I’m going to say that without the perspective of the day they’d been through, one might mistakenly view them as a little lack-lustre. It appears there’s some kind of competition in the MS camp to see who can get the biggest pedal board. It was the first time I’ve been actively drawn to watch the use of pedals. Waist up, they appear to be performing as any other musicians would; Waist down, they’re all river-dancing on boards worth more than my car, guitarists, bassist and vocalist. I was probably more entertained by that than I should’ve been. Vocalist, Kay Thatch, sings in a high-register style, which can sometimes sound less powerful than intended if not done correctly. Not in this case though, Kay has it nailed. I like watching musicians disappear into their parts, I like watching someone feel what they are playing. You see that in all five of these boys –  eyes closed, fingers not missing a note.                                                                                                                                                                       Mercury Sky were a little slow off the mark, thrown off by some minor bass issues. Once that was sorted, their set intensified rapidly and by the end the crowd had errupted in appreciation.

Stepping in as headliners were locals Seraphic, self-labelled as ‘epic, melodic, piano metal’. The crowd, by this time, had filled the room and at the entrance of the band to the stage, it was the most noise from them all night. With a small amount of very polite and grateful banter from vocalist Sam Wolstenholme, the opening song ‘Fire & Ice’ was announced. What a perfect song to kick off their set and perpetuate that growing crowd-energy. There’s really only one way to describe this song: it absolutely is a wall of sound. It actually takes a short period of adjustment for your faculties to register what is coming at you. Once you process the music, then comes the operatic voicing that finds it’s way over the top of that barrage of instrumentation. The intention is not to allude to a performance of just high-volume cacophony, oh no! The drumming is lightning fast and pin-point accurate, the vocals are delicate and dominant at the same time. Lead guitarist Erwin Febrianto cements himself at stage-right and effortlessly shreds away while at stage-left there’s a beautiful bromance occurring between bassist Michael Bates and rhythm guitarist Raouf Araji. By the end of their set, the crowd was insane, loudly voicing approval of Seraphic’s set and the whole night in general.

From the start, it seemed like the night had lost its momentum due to the original headliners being forced out. What happened was Seraphic, Mercury Sky, Periapsis and Ravens Lair gave Fortitude Valley a brilliant night of music. Massive congratulations to all involved.

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