Beastwars live, Crowbar, Brisbane, 8/2/20

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With the inclement weather conditions in Brisbane, we have recently enjoyed a much needed soaking. We braved these welcome showers and rain, storming the revamped and relocated Crowbar, keen to have some magnificent music rain down upon us.

Stoker

The musical storm began with this band, comprised of three members – drums, guitar and the vocalist on bass. They had a sublime sound that was rock with soul.

ADE2670A-4484-4890-A653-0C2014D4707DWith songs like “Witch Doctor” they soon had us under their spell. Their sound often included a clever use of distortion, with the intros to the songs like frantic beasts with pointy teeth. Each song typically built emotion throughout it and their set did the same, showing that they really know how to build atmosphere. The music ebbed and flowed, from the calm to the driving – it was an absorbing groove that was impossible to stand still to. It was rampaging one moment, soulful the next.

The guitarist really rocked our souls, as his performance was passionate and effortless. The songs also used baselines that reverberated throughout the room. The vocalist had a strong voice that lasted the set and he quickly established and maintained a great rapport with the crowd. There was a sublime level of musicianship, combined with appropriate showmanship. They had a 70s feel and appearance that caught my eye as a point of difference.

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Stoker obviously dug what they did and we did too! I enjoyed their style and stage presence and some of the songs seemed like a jam, where the members fed off each other. These folks were not frightened to unleash the beast.

This was a great way to open this evening.

(Some time later one of the band members wandered over to watch Beastwars near us. I gave him a thumbs up and complimented him on their set. He gave me a beer! This enhanced my opinion of these folks as genuine in what they do.)

The Black Swamp

The Black Swamp inundated us with their particularly impressive sound – it was a visceral, but welcome, assault on our senses.

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It always interests me how events are put together, particularly the order in which the bands perform. It was impossible to compare the first two bands, as they were different in intent and style, but they were an enriching counterpoint, adding to the gathering gale of sound.

By this time the crowd had swelled and the intensity was much more apparent. It seemed that the temperature was rising and a tempest was brewing…

The Black Swamp comprised 5 members – 2 guitars, bass, drums and vocals.

The abundant energy of the vocalist was supremely impressive, as he really knew how to engage the crowd.

The songs seamlessly blended into each other, melding and morphing with an often anthemic quality. It was head nod inducing song after song. I wondered if this band was sponsored by chiropractors, as I reckon they would generate business for them…

8B093A24-A814-4DAE-AA1D-F20F643A8EA4The songs shifted in tempo to keep us on our toes and the passion and intensity was obvious in each band member. The vocals were strong and cogent and the quality of them lasted the set. The guitarists shared time in the sun and both had consummate technical skill. The drummer anchored the set and at times came to the fore, displaying great skill. I also loved his attire – a Blood Nut shirt and a hat that said “Beer”. The bassist wove his magic through the songs, adding depth and style.

I had a look around the crowd and it showed enormous, but subtle, engagement. Not everyone present was dancing, but EVERYONE was nodding, toe tapping or moving. To capture the room like this was a credit to The Black Swamp.

This was music to lift your soul. These folks really rocked my world and my beautiful wife and daughter also were hooked.

Later on I chatted to the vocalist, who was polite and generous with his time. He really impressed me with his authenticity.

Black Rheno

These 3 folks have guitar, drums and vocals on stage. They constructed a squall of sound that was both urgent and confronting, grabbing our attention immediately.

1C2957C1-6BC1-465B-B1C4-26897F9FCD08The vocalist was like a squirrel with ADHD on crack. His appearance and dance moves reminded me of Peter Garrett, but it was like the Venom (Spiderman reference) version of Peter. He moved and capered and jumped and radiated energy. In fact, all of the band members were never still. Their energy was more contagious than the coronavirus. Ironically, the vocalist even referenced that later in the set!

These folks thrashed with the best of them and the crowd soon got a circle going. Each song was an exaggeration and an elaboration on what came before, with the set developing abundant depth as it progressed.

The music was high intensity, but the skill on instruments remained. The guitar work was fast and tasty and the drummer gave the skins an absolute flogging.

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All too soon this deluge subsided, leaving us appreciating some calm before the final weather event.

Beastwars

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I reviewed Beastwars’s album last year and enjoyed it immensely. I then saw them at the Dead of Winter Festival and was blown away by that set. The sound, the stage presence of the vocalist as he got lost in the moment and the reaction of the crowd…

I had VERY high expectations. All day, I thought, “Please don’t suck. Please don’t suck.

Please don’t suck.”

From the first note, we were submerged in an atmosphere of passionate professionalism.

6EE8C4DD-438A-48A6-9E48-ECECFCE83FF5It’s a deceptive sound – simple, thick and intricate. There was also a variety of sound and complexity. The crowd immediately responded, with some folks dancing, many singing, many standing with their eyes closed, swaying, surrendering to the sound. I did all of those at some point. I challenge anyone to remain motionless at one of their gigs.

The 4 band members are like pillars on stage. They steadfastly support the sound and aren’t particularly engaging towards the audience, concentrating on the moment and the task at hand. They let the music engage the punters and it does so amazingly.

The vocalist often performs with his eyes closed, arms outstretched, the centre of the sound, present in the here and now. The guitarist is abundantly clever, wringing every emotional nuance from each note. The drumming was tailored to augment each moment, at times subtle, at others inspirational. The bass playing was the spice in the recipe, serving to compliment the sound time and again. There was a complexly compartmentalised togetherness of the band.

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I understand that the last sentence was contradictory and somewhat difficult to quantify, but so is this band. This was groove and metal on a whole other level – a primal one: I’ve written so many things, but probably fail to capture the sound of these mammals.

This was another set that built in intensity the longer it went. The songs and the atmosphere seemed to become more driving with each passing moment. There were a number of folks from local bands in the crowd who also seemed connected to the music. This was testament to the impact of Beastwars.

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I also had a few tangible moments of the impact of Beastwars. I had wandered down to get some photos and on my way back a bloke grabbed me and gave me an enormous bear hug. No words, he was just so happy. Another person came over and spoke to me about the band, telling me that the vocalist was his cousin. It seemed that the music of Beastwars encouraged connectedness!

As the last note rang out, I was relieved and disappointed.

Relieved that Beastwars didn’t suck and disappointed that this was the end of the evening.

Beastwars brought everything that I expected.

And then some.

About the venue:

This was our first visit to the revamped Crowbar, relocated to the venue formally called The Brightside. It was different and the same, with the pews from the old Crowbar added for some additional seating and some different lighting and posters on the walls. The sound was still of a high standard and the staff continued to be awesome.

Greg Noble.

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