Frozen Planet 1969 / Horsehunter / Vile Ways / Yanomamo
One of the numerous quirks of my neurology is that I do not find it easy to go to places that are unfamiliar to me. Although I love Sydney as a place to live and travel, places like the Valve Bar in George Street in Sydney are slightly problematic when I have never been to them before.
Fortunately, my first attendance of a show at the Valve was well worth the time to go.
(And if you are in Sydney looking for things to do, swinging by the Valve to see a show is well worth considering.)
In the interests of full disclosure, I will tell you that Yanomamo vocalist Anthony Von Grimm put my name on the list for free admission. This in no way changed my impressions or enjoyment of the ensuing concert. It does make me more likely to purchase merch from at least one of them bands at a later time, however, so there is that.
The state of heightened “uh oh, what am I about to crash into or step on” that accompanies me when I am out in public was also present at this show, but that only amplifies my point. Four bands, about two hours of playing (not counting downtime between sets), and not a single dud/dull second.
Frozen Planet 1969 were the first group to take the stage that evening. I am not sure if it was the audio setup or just my hearing, but I did not understand the first half of the introductory speech from Frozen Planet 1969’s guitarist. I perfectly caught what it ended in, however. “…we like to improvise”. He was not kidding. For thirty minutes without a break, they played a doomy, progressive, even psychedelic at times to a minor extent, instrumental.
And it was not simply noodling around on a guitar, either. Every part of this instrumental seemed to have a point, to take the listener on a journey. Even when the guitarist stood his guitar up on what looked like a small amplifier and adjusted pedals whilst every so often brushing the strings with a cloth. The members of Frozen Planet 1969 have clearly been somewhere strange and exciting. Thus, they want to use their music to give us an idea of what that place is like.
Oh yeah, Frozen Planet 1969’s guitarist had a lot of pedals in front of him.
Look, I do not try to kid myself that I am a professional photographer. I do try to get my images looking interesting, but at least some of these images are going to look rather under or overexposed. I apologise. Maybe one day I will figure out how to get more professional-looking images.
Which brings me to a band whose bassist/vocalist appears in my favourite image of the night. Horsehunter were second on the bill and played a nice twin-guitar doom that floated my boat for the entire set. Not so distinct that I remember it too clearly after a trek home and a good sleep, but distinct enough that I could bob about to it whilst taking pictures or trying not to step on toes.
Horsehunter are a twin guitar act. Both guitarists played well, in my opinion, and that one of them looks like an Elf did not hurt for that irony-observation factor.
I also honestly swear that I do not attempt to get pictures of people with expressions or poses that make others laugh. It just sort of occurs naturally, like ‘phoning people up just as they are trying to get something done. But the one photo that made the entire trip from Merrylands to Sydney and back worth it and more is this one:
Would I go and see another show where Horsehunter are the only band on the bill I had heard before? Absolutely. In fact this minor honour, that I would go to a show where they are the only act I am familiar with (at this show, that was the case with Yanomamo), can be considered bestowed upon all the acts of that night.
Which brings me to a point that I do not really like talking about. The low attendance. I think there were a good two dozen people there maybe, in total. The numbers swelled as more people came in to see the headliner, but not much. The Valve is a small venue, granted, but it does give a slight pause for thought concerning the future of live music.
I also like to be fair to performers I catch in a funny pose, and post photos of them that do not induce laughter. Here is one of Horsehunter’s bassist/vocalist:
I am not going to give ratings in terms of how well the bands played. They all played well enough that I want to hear them again. That should be more than enough information for any doom metal fan.
Vile Ways have some interesting merchandise. My favourite example being a shirt that features Tom Selleck’s likeness. In the image, Selleck is apparently conducting an orchestra that cannot be seen. Beneath the image are the words “this is my magnum opus”.
I think it was just before Vile Ways began their set that I was greeted by another photographer, too. I made sure as quickly as I could in the normal flow of conversation to make him aware that I was not a pro and merely doing this for my own shits and giggles. But it was good to exchange a little shop talk with someone who knows their cameras and was able to give a little info concerning the state of the market for photography.
I was a little unsure of his level of understanding of the music as such, but that is all well and good. Not everyone can be the type of guy who was hearing Black Sabbath songs as a toddler, after all.
Vile Ways were probably the least doom metal band of the night. Hey, they knew their doomy riffs and all, but they seemed to orient themselves around belting out the most aggressive-sounding shit they could whilst their vocalist sounded like he was having the most extreme temporal lobe seizure in the history of the universe. In other words, I really dug their work.
Note the description I just gave of their vocalist. I will post some images first of the rest of the band, who all look suitably Dwarvish like any doom metal band ought to at least partly try.
I think their guitarist swallowed a fly at some point, too. (Not really.)
Yanomamo’s vocalist, Anthony Vom Grimm as he bills himself, has a reputation for an aggressive and confrontational style. But he is a long way from the only one. I do not know what name Vile Ways’ vocalist goes by, but the way he was roaring, raging, and moving in and out of the front of the audience… let me put it this way. If this man’s head had exploded at the end of the set, I would not have been in the least bit surprised.
Truly an incomprehensibly powerful musical experience. I am definitely earmarking some cash for this band (and going to see them at other shows in future).
Which brings us to the stars of the evening, Yanomamo. The event was essentially a “launch” of their new EP, Capitolo Due. I have written about this bunch of very nice lads twice before. Here, and here. In the latter writing, I wrote something that you would not have to go back very far in time to find a me that would never believe I would write it. “Dulcet tone” meister Anthony Von Grimm liked it so much he quoted it on the Fudgebook page he made for the launches. The sentence reads:
Come to think of it, Black Sabbath, if you are listening, chuck songs like Loner and replace them with A Bag of Bones & a Machine Gun. We will both be happier that way.
I stand by those words even more after this show. Loner is a piece of shit of a song. “He’s just a loner”, “I wonder if the loner can assimilate”. Really, Ozzy and Geezer? Well, here is what Anthony Von Grimm sings about ninety seconds into A Bag Of Bones & a Machine Gun that is exponentially more effective at conveying the feelings this autistic author has about how Australia the society treats him:
Give him a gun and toss him away like a doll.
(Amendment May 20, 2014: Von Grimm is actually singing “stone”, not “doll”. (Source: the lyrics printed on the back of the Capitolo Due CD.) If you think this diminishes my point about word-focusers, you know the rest.)
It sounds like someone literate, intelligent, and capable of understanding the viewpoint of others wrote, in other words. Now, the song is actually about child soldiers (I think), but this does not diminish the point. It has always been my belief that doom metal is about holding up a magnifying glass to what is wrong in this world, and whilst there are many bands lining up to be the King of this fine art, few are as close to the top of the heap in my opinion as Yanomamo. (I am not going to give a definite answer as to who is at the very top of the pile because it is irrelevant here and I am sure others would disagree.)
(Also worth mentioning is that the difference in how these pieces of verbiage are delivered is exponential. As a rule, I normally filter vocalists out. I spent a fair amount of time earlier in my life in the company of idiots who say this or that song is no good because “I cunt undystand the werds!” or similar. On behalf of people who “only” played an instrument on this night, fukk you idiots who cannot listen past a voice. Go listen to the speaking clock, word-understanders, it is more your speed. And furthermore, this speaks to the quality of Von Grimm’s vocalising because unlike everyone those assholes can understand, I actively listen to him.)
(By comparison, Ozzy sounded like he was singing with a blood glucose level of 0.3 mmol/l during Loner. And I really need to get off this track now.)
At one point, Von Grimm warned people not to mess with this table, his dinner was on it. Touches like that can make a show, in my opinion. (Most of the contents of the table wound up scattered to the winds.)
(For those who wonder where the name comes from, this Wikipedia page details who the Yanomami are and some interesting facts about them.)
For this show, Yanomamo added a keyboardist. That is the guy you see in the above image, to Anthony’s right. I am not sure that the keyboards really added that much to the performance, if I am to be honest, but I am sure others at this show might disagree. Not that this detracted from the good time that the show was. It was just not up to the potential of a Yanomamo with keyboards arrangement, at least to my mind.
Anthony Von Grimm has been compared in the past to other performers who have a confrontational style, including one G.G. Allin. I do not think that is fair to Von Grimm. Allin was about throwing shit into the audience, fighting, and maybe occasionally playing music. With Von Grimm, it is the opposite. He saunters around the audience, embracing members, singing into their faces, and dancing around with them.
Part of this is an attempt to get the audience more involved in the music. Post-show, he was bemoaning the fact that Sydney audiences tend to just stand there. And you know what? To a large degree he is right. In my own defense, I had an expensive camera with me and the days when I could just recklessly slam dance are over thanks to my health issues, but there is something disturbing about how reserved the Sydney audience is.
Also worth noting is that nobody is immune from being embraced and sung into by Von Grimm. Not even me. I feel better as a person because of this.
Yanomamo do not have a large catalogue of songs. The Capitolo Due EP aside, they only have the four songs from the Maggot EP. Plus whatever material they might play live without having already recorded. Still, their songs are more than sufficient to fill a half-hour slot, so no problem there. On the other hand, as others have written in reviews of Capitolo Due, this engenders a great desire for a full-length. Oh well, wait and see I guess.
Of course, it would all be well and good to focus on Anthony’s vocals all night, but at tonight’s show there were four other people in the band, too. I am not sure who the gentlemen on the keyboards or the replacement for drummer Matt Shriffer were, but Jason Higson and Paul Attard were in fine form as always. Paul was bereft his Good Egg apron, but costumes are unimportant. Both men put down a thick pool of sludgy riffing that was easy to feel going through one’s whole body.
Unfortunately, sometimes at these shows you just get dickheads who are a little too keen on embracing the performer. One such idiot did so in time to disrupt the rhythm of the climactic point of the song A Bag Of Bones & a Machine Gun. Sadly, such is always a risk.
All in all, a good time was had. By some more than others, in fact.
For example, the man in the right of this image looks insanely jealous. Whether it is of Von Grimm or the lady he is delivering his vocals in ultra-close proximity to, I will leave the reader/viewer to decide. (All in jest, stern-looking fellow.)
As I have said before, sometimes when you release the shutter, the looks on people’s faces in the resultant image is worth the effort by themselves.
But when I got this particular image, I did not know whether to be pleased with myself or shit my pants.
Long story short, if you are in Melbourne or Sydney and see an advertisement for a future show in which Frozen Planet 1969, Horsehunter, Vile Ways, or Yanomamo are playing, clear your schedule in order to attend. If they are all on the same bill again, play a real-life Carmageddon to get there if you have to.
And please, try to get more “into” the show if it is happening in Sydney. Like slam dance, or whatever. We do want Anthony Von Grimm to come back here at some point, ya know.
(Also: if you feel in a competitive mood, feel free to suggest captions for the images I have not already captioned. Suggestions are best placed in the comments box, along with the Alternate Text name of the image that matches the proposed caption (mouse over the image for a while and it should appear).)