The LiQUiFY team recently sought out a few live experiences to melt our brains and get our bodies bouncing, diving head-first into a cramped sliver room with Australian punk legends Frenzal Rhomb and later spreading our wings at the enormous open-air Riverstage for an evening with Deftones and Karnivool.
Photography // Luke Sorensen
Words // Wilbert Starbird & Luke Sorensen
The two experiences touched on both ends of the live music spectrum, yet resoundingly carried with them each a familiarity and similarity that brought home the universal appeal of seeing a great band doing what they do best.
FRENZAL RHOMB, SHARK BAR, THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 29
First up we hit the Miami Tavern Shark Bar on the Gold Coast to take on the unfiltered and unreserved shenanigans of Frenzal Rhomb. The bruises will heal we kept telling ourselves.
The Sharky, Shark Bar or whatever you want to call it, is a no-frills place. It’s a room on top of a pub that’s dark, narrow and shallow, yet over the years it has been a reliable corner-stone destination on the Gold Coast venue landscape – a landscape which in terms of rock, metal and punk venues, is about as devoid of quality venues as the surface of Mars.
Strolling the beach park on our way in and there’s a notable bevy of small groups sitting, drinking and otherwise causing no harm as they wait to go in to the venue. We come up the stairs to find that the ticketing machine reader is not working and someone just taking photos of our ticket bar codes whilst pretending to be reading them – theoretically we could have presented a shoe to be scanned and still gotten in.
The place is already pretty packed, not a hard thing to do given that you could run from one end of the room to the stage and back in about 6.5 seconds. Plenty of onld and young, rockers and stoners, fashionable people blended with those that give less than a fuck about much.
Plenty of good memories reside in the walls here, and tonight is going to be one of those shows, you can just smell it in the air, well you can smell a lot of things in the air as the steam from the bodies begins to cluster.
Out strolls Jay, Lindsay, Tom and Gordy on to the stage – not a hard thing to do either as the backstage room is actually the bar’s stockroom and it’s a couple of metres from the stage.
We’ve got mixed feelings at this stage but mostly positive ones, we mean seriously, here is a band that’s a fucken institution in this country, and they represent a silly sort of right-of-passage for the twisted alternate youth and munted persona of our raging inner anti-everything … and they’re playing in a tiny black box of a room, a few feet away from a handful of pissy men and women who want nothing more than to forget about their own world for an hour or two.
Brace yourself, Frenzal is coming! Within the first few moments of the set there’s already feet flying and ale splashing about the place. By no mean is it completely out of control but rather there’s a semi-organised mosh of colliding limbs in what little space we are provided. Like a bunch of rats trapped together in a 4-litre icecream bucket, it’s a micro clusterfuck of head thrashing, crowd surfing and miss-timed vocal chorus.
At some point soon into the set, we are told that we’re getting a rendition of a kind of Top-25 set, as voted by fans on their website, but who cares – every ferocious song flying off the stage is in itself hilarious and wickedly fun, and the frantic nature of the crowd just keeps accelerating.
Swimming on people’s heads was at-time the only way to survive this micro thrash pit
Between songs the banter is like an R-rated version of a Triple J bagging session, nobody is safe. We round the halfway mark with a stellar rendition of Russell Crowe’s Band, which even though the 40 odd foot of it is now extinct, it appears it’s still a fucking pile of shit.
We’re caught up the front with Jay holding the mic down at us, and he’s left the chorus of You Are Not My Friend to us, I think we did ok, but then again what it sounds like in your head is probably light years from the truth of it – hell fun all the same.
Shit gets rowdy towards the end, the bar has been working overdrive which, for a midweek band, is an anomaly these days on the Coast. We run into our old mate Gary Marshall in the front, he’s blazing a trail through the pinballing people and shredding the floor like the apocalypse is tomorrow.
You are not my friend!
Suddenly some guy sort of crowd surfing does a backflip over the front and goes down, legs up like an upside-down pin drop with the back of his neck and skull collecting the knew-high stage on the way down. Lindsay stops, the band stops and despite the assertion over the microphone that they had just witnessed someone dying this bloke gets up, brushes it off and goes again.
We’re Going Out Tonight, Ship Of Beers, You Can’t Move Into My House, Bird Attack through all the way to Punch In The Face, it was an epic show that resembled more of a distorted backyard party gone sideways than an actual organised professional band performance – although the musicianship no doubt exceeded the visual accompaniment, these guys shred.
With about a minute to go, a rowdy punter grabbed hold of Jay and ripped into him, pulling down and sending Jay lurching forward into the crowd, flipping his shirt over his head as a few punches flew about the scene. Making sense of this was not possible yet there was a strange familiarity to this scene. In flies Lindsay (something we’d expect Gordy to do usually) who ends up in a sort of tug-o-war, as the fight for the singer begins between the guitarist and the loose bastard who’s got hold of Jay. Only ever at a Frenzal show does this shit seem to happen.
Security jump in to help out Lindsay who has just pulled Jay out of the crowd where a couple of punters had pretyy much lynched him – this was the end of the show
There’s ripped shirts and people drenched in sweat and beer all over the place. Our editor is sporting a fat lip, a slight shiner and a massive boot imprint on his back – all by his own doing – and by the look on his face, he’s not unimpressed with the scene he’s just been party to.
What a great time, what a mess. What a time to be alive, where legend bands like this still give intimate shows in tiny dark venues to help you through your crappy week. We give these fuckers 4 out 5 stars for belting us all about with their strange sorcery and eclectic punk rock show.
DEFTONES & KARNIVOOL, RIVERSTAGE, SUNDAY NOVEMBER 13th
It’s been 9 years since Deftones have played this venue and the hype is real! Sacramento sons and world-wide enigmas, this band is the kind of band that you could watch every night for a week and not ever get sick of it.
Up against the Miami Tavern this is an opposing venue in every respect. It’s a massive open-air cauldron that bowls down to the permanent stage, equipped with an array of retina-destroying laser lights and a strung sound bank of speakers designed to throw the sound up the hill without deafening the front row. It’s a fucken choice place to see bands, all class and quality and something we, yet again, don’t have anything like on the Gold Coast.
We’ve booked a room across the road almost and like most people we spend the afternoon slowly sinking into the situation by downing fine food and beverage selections. There’s ciders, vodkas and even a ghetto goon bag flying around the room, this could get messy haha. There’s not many people we know from the local music scene that aren’t here tonight, looks like there’ll be a worker shortage come Monday morning in some circles.
Karnivool is midway through their first epic song as we enter the gates (apologies to the Voyager guys for missing their set) so we roll down the hill to be front and centre within moments. Before we talk Karnivool we have to add – damn, what ever was Ian Kenny thinking when he signed up for Birds Of Tokyo? Karnivool is the real deal and make Birds Of Tokyo seem like a bunch of kids with crayons in an astro physics lecture by comparison. Not to say that the Birds’ flighty pop music hasn’t been well constructed and performed, it’s just that the moment you hear the alien-scape precision and provocative sound that is the mighty Karnivool, their music just stands like a giant imposing king next to a passing peasant.
Jon Stockman the phenom’ bass player
Drew (Goddard) and Mark (Hosking) are insane. Scratch that, the whole mechanism of Karnivool is insanely good and this incredible foundation provides such a fitting home to Ian’s ethereal vocals and mannerisms – it take you places instantly and locks you in there.
What a treat to see them on a massive stage with killer sound and without being pummelled by ten thousand people. Their set is woefully short and we are left searching for more and wondering why we didn’t get just one more song – one more taste of this home-grown goodness.
Karnivool’s set was oh so short but pretty sick
The changeover is fairly efficient and quick, and by this stage our minds turn to Deftones.
The last time we saw them standing here it was with their friend and great luminary bass player, the late Che Cheng, thrashing away on the stage – good times long gone.
The band are on point this night, totally firing and appear to be in a sort of happy place which is good. If anything it may rob from some of the darker songs but hey, we’re also here to party so bring it on.
Damn this band is good! We’re watching Abe on the skins, he’s up the back this time, a fair way back from the stagefront but nonetheless you can see the chips of wood flying off his stick here and there as he rolls his arms to bring them down with maximum force.
The band swaggers and swoons, it hits hard and sharp to then recoil – Deftones is high and low, real and grounded yet fluid like a mystical creature that’s evolving in real time before your eyes. Chino is a commanding front man, reaching out to the crowd just enough to engage them, but staying right on the tracks as he drives the emotive Deftones train ever forward. Their music represents a tormentous paradoxical journey that pulls in all directions, especially on the soul.
Chino takes multiple trips off stage to get up and into the front row people with the mic – although there’s something unnervingly staged and contrived about this routine it doesn’t resonate on those who get the chance to have Chino up in ther face sharing the song with them. It’s priceless for them, no matter how you want to wrap it up, and it personifies the essence of the relationship between a band and their fans no matter how big the stage is the band is on.
We’ve been infected by some of the swagger, but it’s more likely the vodka at this stage. A cool night breeze is shifting air across the valley after a day of heat, storms and insipid humidity. Digital Bath, Change, Be Quiet, Kife Party – it’s a full smothering of epic Deftones power plays that are placed back to back with the likes of their newest ammunition by way of Gore and Hearts/Wires. A double-song encore ensues with Engine No. 9 shaking the foundations of the concrete stage to close out the night.
Sergio Vega is full on and truly rips apart his role with the band showing an unmatched level of enthusiasm and ability
On a WSL scale of 10 we’ve got to say it’s up there in the high range of excellent scores and in a shootout with most bands they’d easily have taken this heat. Fucken righteous! (MORE Deftones pics from Brisbane below)
In the end there’s no true measure of what makes a good show and a good venue other than can it facilitate a raw and in-your-face experience for the paying fan. In both cases we’ve been treated to two incredible shows under two wholly different sets of circumstances and have come away with similar results. Hot and sweaty, up close and in your face, as good for the ears as it was for the eyes and something to take away inside your mind and heart forever. From the icecream bucket sliver that is the Miami Tavern Shark Bar to the open colosseum-like grandness of Brisbane’s Riverstage – having the chance ti see amazing bands like this and get up close and interact is worth every cent you pay these days for it //
Mark Hosking – Karnivool
Riverstage lights up and perks up on all senses at once! Deftones made full use of it.
Chino Moreno – Deftones
Stephen Carpenter – Deftones
A kid named Reece got the all time chance to front Deftones in front of a huge crowd – envy much!
Stephen Carpeneter – Deftones
An amazing show from a band that truly looked and sounded like they wanted to be there!