Australia's latest music sensation, by my patriotic reckoning, is Perth band Karnivool. Touring around our great land for probably better reasons than me just wanting them to, they hit Melbourne in late April. The beginning of the six month period when Melbourne is like a microwaved jam donut, cold outside, hot inside. Exactly how Frankston was when Adam and I traveled there to see Karnivool perform at the 21st Century Night Club.
The 21st Century Night Club? Probably a pretty forward looking name about nine years ago. The 22nd century is still too far removed for most people to think about, especially the people in attendance to whom sobriety was a horrible side affect of not being able to drink in your sleep. The place is even decked out with space age ultra-violet lights. They make everyone there appear about as space age as the movie Tron, with its Atari 2600 style graphics. And the only thing the lights do well is highlight all the skin flakes and dandruff on the black band t-shirts that is standard issue for people at rock concerts.
I had nominated myself as the driver, largely because the best concerts I had attended were ones that alcohol had only allowed a vague recollection of the event. A sort of “Wow, that gig was so fucking amazing” in hazy reference to music playing, jumping around a bit and not much else happening. I did end up somewhat intoxicated though. I had a beer waiting for the band to come on, then nearly drowned in the recycled liqour being shared around liberally by my fellow moshers. Had it not contained a rather manly tang, I would have suggested the sweat was just pure alcohol. Add cramped spaces, humidity, hot stage lights, frenetic exercise, mild euphoria and non existent air circulation, and the circumstances demonstrate why exactly I was moved enough to write an ode to it now.
Taking nothing away from Karnivool though. They were loving the crowds enthusiasm so much, I think they would have just kept playing until the aforementioned environmental conditions induced an exhausted coma in everyone. They were in the zone, and have the rare stage presence that is able to take most of their fans with them. At least that was the way I felt, and judging by the inexpressible actions of those around me, I wasn't alone. With no gimmicks, fancy get-ups, or comedic quips about this particular town being their most favourite place out of their 1,200 favourite cities, the show was all about the music.
You could shut your eyes and let their power take you somewhere special. Without a focal point to keep you upright though, it would only take about 3 seconds in the mosh pit to ensure you were horizontal and a long way from anywhere special. Music rarely has a complimentary visual accompaniment. Sure, there are video clips, but they hardly ever inspire you to do anything other than drink Pepsi. Watching a band perform your soundtrack to important events from your past combines the significance of all these things into one moment. It's like the romantic night by the fireplace, the massive party with all your friends, visiting other realities on acid and holidaying in exotic locations all in one too-insane-to-be-insane evening.
Karnivool's exposition of their songs, both back catalogue stuff and material yet to be released, resulted in a confusing dichotomy of an endless magical display that seemed to finish as soon as it started. Once I had accepted, but not gotten comfortable with the fact that not all the sweat I was drowning in was my own, the lights came on and it was time to go home. Not before sharing the afterglow with dudes who I was convinced wanted to kill me with their dancing only minutes before.
It was a truly amazing night, and the sort of experience that makes me upset I don't make much effort to see more live music, physical injuries and shared pathogens aside. I highly recommend seeing these guys live, to understand how talented and enthusiastic they are as performers. If you plan on going non-linear in the mosh pit, just be sure to have your shots before you do.