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By on March 6, 2012


w/ Devin Townsend Project, Dredg

The Factory, Marrickville (Sydney) – 28th February 2012

With the immense amount of bands playing at this year’s edition of Soundwave, there was bound to be some massive sideshows announced containing line-ups you would never expect to see hit Australia in a million years. Three international bands on the one bill and all for the price of a few beers (well, overpriced Soundwave beers…) feels like we’re finally receiving the shows places like the USA and Europe get almost on a nightly basis. But there’s only one problem I have with these amazing shows, and that is that shows in all of those countries nearly always have a local opening band, while here our local talent is completely ignored by Soundwave. I truly believe that this is something in which Soundwave should look at changing in the future, not only because we have bands that can easily compete in quality with their international counterparts, but also to help represent the country which supports the festival’s livelihood.

Anyways, the first show of the many sideshows I chose to attend was the mammoth co-headlining bill of Meshuggah and Devin Townsend Project, both bands whose solo headlining shows would usually sell out their own Australian shows, so it was no surprise that this show sold out very shortly after being announced. Upon entering the venue, it was apparent that everyone did not want to miss a moment of this show, as the floor was quite packed for opening band Dredg. To tell you the truth, I was a bit worried for this American quartet, as their alternative progressive rock style is quite a bit different to the heavier stylings of the headlining bands. But luckily the typical ‘metalhead’ mentality was not apparent at this show and the band was well received by most in the crowd. This is a band I’ve heard bits and pieces of over the years, but never sat down and heard a full album or anything like that. So tonight being the most material of Dredg I’ve ever heard in one sitting, I was quite impressed by both their diversity of their tracks and the passion in which they performed them. Even though their set was short, Dredg managed to win over the quite varied mix of punters present this evening and I’m sure that they even managed to gain a few new fans at the same time, especially based on the crowd applause they received between songs.

Now, being a co-headlining set, obviously one band has to go first and unfortunately in this case, it was the Devin Townsend Project, therefore Meshuggah were the headliners (it was the opposite way in Melbourne). I’m a much bigger fan of DTP then Meshuggah, hence my disappointment mainly due to a shorter set of DTP. Also immediately after Dredg finished their set, the massive white screen engulfing the back of the stage lit up with a projected image. Ziltoid Television came alive, making the wait between sets almost as enjoyable as the band themselves. We were treated to renditions of some of the most popular youtube videos such as the Badger, Badger, Badger, Badger song, with a hand puppet of Ziltoid on screen, commentating and singing away. Some of the other crazy shit that could only be conceived in the demented mind of Devin Townsend included poodle aerobics, a hero character and his pizza boomerang skills (including a penis decapitation), and upside jaw and fake eye antics! I honestly can’t full describe how insane some of the footage was, but I can say that it was both extremely hilarious and entertaining! When the video suddenly cut short and the screen became a blur of surreal colours and landscapes, one knew Devin Townsend and his band were about to hit the stage.

Opening with the “Truth”, the first track from the classic Infinity album, the Devin Townsend Project exploded onto the stage with a gusto rarely seen by a band, which they held from the second they started till the moment they finished. One thing about Devin and the amazing band he has which makes up the Devin Townsend Project is that they are a group who obviously enjoy every moment they’re out on the stage. It’s such a refreshing thing to see when a band is not trying to act out a certain stereotyped persona and rather just being themselves and having fun onstage, all while performing the tracks solidly. But at the same time, I don’t think I would even notice this as much, nor focus on it, if it wasn’t for the extremely charismatic frontman, Devin Townsend, who brings the stage alive with his energy, allure and odd humour. Just his general demeanour both attracts and possesses your attention throughout his set. From some great in between banter, to making jokes during songs,  such as “I’ve got a present for you all, the worst guitar solo you’ll ever hear”, before kicking into what was actually a kick-ass solo, Devin knows how to work a crowd.

I must also mention the other object of my attention for this show, drummer Ryan Van Poederooyen. The man absolutely ripped through the set, playing every song almost effortlessly, even on the tracks in which he didn’t record, such as “Juular”. Ryan is a very interesting drummer to watch and listen to as he has a unique style that obviously stems from his early jazz roots. It’s no wonder Devin chose him to play on the majority of his solo stuff over the last decade.

All and all, the Devin Townsend Project was an amazing live performance to witness. I can’t say I’ve ever been disappointed any time I’ve seen any of Devin’s bands live and he just brings both a level of professionalism and entertainment unparalleled by most bands. Even though they only had just over an hour for their set, they managed to squeeze in a good range of material from Devin’s solo albums, Ziltoid, the Devin Townsend Project and the Devin Townsend Band. I’d have to say that my favourite part was definitely the closing track of the set, “Vampira” from the Synchestra album, a track I’ve loved since it was first released. Seeing it live and played in perfect synchronicity with the video clip being projected behind the stage was mind blowing, definitely a great way to end the flawless set.

After witnessing that, I was ready to leave as I felt not only could that show not be topped, but it’s very unusual to be at a co-headlining show with two international bands in Australia, so I felt my night had already come to an end. But there was still the matter of Swedish extreme metal juggernauts, Meshuggah. Meshuggah has always been one of those bands who I’ve admired and enjoyed their material, but only in smaller doses and it’s not something I come back and listen to repeatedly. On that note though, this previous week I’ve been listening to a lot of their new album, and I think their new direction is something I’m going to enjoy more. Anyways, back to the show. Meshuggah played a very tight set, playing a goodrange of their material, including one new track from their upcoming album Koloss. Compared to their set on an outdoor stage at Soundwave, the much better sound at The Factory made the band sound a lot heavier and a lot more intense, making their set a lot more engaging. Watching their infamous drummer, Tomas Haake, was my definite highlight of the set, as the man’s polyrhythms are just as faultless live as they are in the studio. I think the only downfall of their set for me was that after watching something so diverse as Devin Townsend Project, Meshuggah’s set became a bit stagnant towards the end as the majority of the material they played at this show was all in the same vein. Had it been DTP headlining, I don’t think I would have noticed this as much, but it just made the second half of Meshuggah’s set much less enjoyable for me. That said, they still were great live and played their tracks to a degree of tightness unfathomed by most.


Planet of the Apes
By Your Command


Rational Gaze
New Millennium Cyanide Christ
Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave It Motion
Perpetual Black Second
Straws Pulled At Random