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THE OMNIFIC, Keyan: The Brightside, Brisbane 03/09/23

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Words by Lewd Scoff

I love it when I walk through the Valley (Fortitude) and overhear people Waxing and Waning lyrical over how God like Melbourne instrumental 3 piece, The Omnific really are.

Their skill transpires genre in regards to that great selling point, the ‘WTF Factor’.  Not the X factor. That’s for muppets of the mainstream. True talent is nurtured permanently by a rabid fan base with the spoils elevating both artist and appreciative to new heights. Case in point, tonight’s performance at Brisbane’s Brightside Bar, is part of the Phat Mackerel World Tour, which signifies the recent release of the group’s latest single of the same name.  Their first album Escapades is part of HEAVY Mags well deserved 5 on 5 club, and is still played daily by this humble reviewer, so expectations are high.

However, we need to discuss opening act Keyan. Born from the embers of YouTube, based in Adelaide, and named after lead protagonist Keyan Houshmand, this trio of progressive soundscapers have an ebb and flow akin to the build-and-drop style of your favourite psytrance DJ, whilst maintaining a heavy, down-tuned guitar vibe that explores time shifts and harmonic bottom end perfectly, thus ensuring everyone present is on the same page riff wise.

Finishing with the ultra-chop of track Black, the crowd was awarded the opportunity to like, comment and subscribe via Korn-esque tri-tones and smoother tapping than an (INSERT DAD JOKE INVOLVING KITCHEN EXPO).

Nothing to fault at all other than the bass trap that is the Brightside. (Wearing headphones that control the sound-person’s need for sonic mud is a must at this establishment). 4.5 on 5. 

Crowd-wise, on a Sunday night for a niche artist, the crowd is as diverse as it is buzzing with positive energy.  It’s ‘couples’ night for the under 30s and what better way to show them how good you can dance than with some 29/4 over 17/8 with djent-like time changes on the upbeat?

May I also bring up the empty line barriers when I arrived and why I was asked to go back through and enter the correct 2 meter long walkway? Security must have been really let down that he was at a friendly club tonight. Constantly checking people’s shoes and standing over my shoulder copping my notes. This crowd is so calm and music-focused, I could have done security. lol.

Running well ahead of time, The Omnific take the stage at what can only be called ‘On a school night’ style, which is good considering the processing time that will be needed to digest everything they musically throw at the crowd. Let’s go lads. 

Starting with the first 6 tracks off their L.P Escapades in order that they appear on the album, this is a show for purists and the social media fascinated alike. The young people digest their entertainment privately these days, and it’s good to see the dedicated few out supporting the stars of their small screens irl. Rofl.

Djent, carnival-centric, doubled octave lines, post-hardcore, blast beats, more double kick than a Matildas loss, groove and harmonics, blend together like a well-oiled machine that is clearly as rehearsed as the audience is enthusiastic.

And it’s not just the technical skill on display. Brilliant songwriting in a non-lyrical sense is attained on every track ensuring there is space and reason behind every note played.

Bassists Matt Fackwell and Toby Peterson-Stewart fight for relevance on drum-heavy tracks such as Scurryfunge, but take things to the next level with Merlin’s ID, which is a liquid string monstrosity of a track in the recorded sense let alone mastered in the live setting. Bouncing back and forth from tech driven backing track to rhythm section on study drugs amps the crowd up to a clap-along sense of belonging as drummer Jerome Lematua thanks all and sundry behind the scenes for making the tour possible.

The Omnific then launch into the stop/fast/slow juggernaut that is Matai, a track that would push any well-practiced, professional, and confident drummer towards the need for therapy, with its mind-bending time changes and dynamic beauty.

Tour title and the crowds most anticipated song Phat Mackerel greets us mid-set. The p.a is actually breathing air which is unusual for this venue, and this track released only a couple of weeks ago (August 18) gives a good idea of the progression the band has made since their debut release in 2019.  Short and sweet, Jerome really opens up on the kit and proves he’s one of Australia’s lead proponents in metal crossover drumming in general.

The second half of the set harks back to earlier times with the inclusion of Erin, a track not easy to find on the streaming services.

Base Camp is brand new and has a great blend of fretonics and solid groove that has heads bopping and bassists getting blisters. Truly epic musicianship including some amazing synth-based sounds courtesy of Matt Fack’s bass. Sine wave heaven coupled (pun intended) with tasty double stops.

Kismet from the 2017 album of the same name takes us back to a time when the band seemed happy to just show off.  Frenetic as it is fretastic, and more intricate than fractals, this is what they must have played their parents when they were asked if they had real jobs yet.

And the style was never greater than the substance back when they were green in the gills so to speak. Most tracks are short and sweet, a musical idea expanded on in true ADHD fashion, then resolved and left to process later as the next motif to be explored presents itself. Compared to say Tool, who are more ASD in their approach to riff exploration.  

Fountainhead is a great example of this format, and, like everything else played tonight, is executed to perfection.

Dwam brings the energy levels down giving the crowd a chance to catch their collective breath, with its ascending and uplifting use of inversions and pad synth, only to be catapulted back into the sonic mayhem via set closer Ne Plus Ultra. Accent and polyrhythm nirvana for those who thrive on that sort of thing.

There is only one thing needed after a set like that, and that is an encore. The crowd is 60 deep and shouting ‘One more song’ like it’s the end of  Knotfest and the headliners haven’t played Duality. Oops.

Sonorous was the finale of choice and is still as impressive as when I first heard it back in 2016. The kind of performance that either makes a bassist strive to better their playing, or quit, disgusted that they never took the art form more seriously.  Sonic bliss that ensures the crowd leave with the stain of bass guitar drilled into their collective psyche.

As usual, 6 on 5. 

One extra point for playing the Seinfeld theme when the lights went up. Yay, Heavy Aussie instrumental music. Best dual bass 3 piece on the planet. Easily.

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