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Live Reviews : Amenra, YLVA, Lo! & Sundr @ Max Watt’s, Melbourne 17/11/2018

By on November 18, 2018

Imagine being Sundr, a band so thoroughly swept under the rug I’m left thinking there are some high school scene politics at play. I didn’t know they were playing. No one I know knew they were playing. Were they added at 7:30 the night of? On the plus side, someone who rushed to the venue upon hearing they were playing said they were revelatory.

Lo! were up first, apparently, and besides some vocal volume issues, put on a super tight and creepy show. Combining slow moving doom with almost post-thrash sensibilities, they managed to fill the entire, helped in no small part by singer Sam’s “Marilyn Manson stars in Exorcist The Musical” stage performance. Full disclosure; I’m mates with the guy. He’s a good guy. Pretty much the same person off-stage as on, which is as disconcerting as it sounds. His theatrical stage presence alongside the inky lighting show really helped elevate the songs into an experience, but having seen them before I know this is all just bonus trappings instead of essentially media. Lo! would be just as good if they were playing a shed at lunchtime and forced to remain still.

I’m on record as saying that YLVA are Australia’s best band, and while I still believe that, tonight may have been the first time Australia’s best band put on a less than perfect show. For starters, the opening track especially just had way too much bass in the mix. I know it sounds pedantic to point out one specific issue, but it was so overwhelming it was noticeable, both for how it messed up their sound, and also how it showed a slight crack in their facade as legitimately perfect. Even the best bands have mix issues sometimes. Maybe it sounded fine without plugs in but not wearing protection at an YLVA gig is more surer death than suicide by cop in America. And while this was eventually rectified and the guitars came thundering back through, they still took up a huge chunk of their set with a droning non-song that yes is technically difficult to pull off, but so is sucking your own cock and in both instances doing it in public should be met with disapproval. Like I said though, I fucking love this band, and the sheer, physical force that comes from their songs live, so what I think is happening is that I’ve just seen them too many times with the same songs. If this was your first experience you were probably blown away. For me, they were still Australia’s best band of the night, but I’m ravenously hungry for some new material to sink my teeth into.

Amenra, on the other, was the best sounding band I may have ever heard. They were louder, more forceful, more perfectly balanced and clearer than whenever I’ve seen Neurosis, and even gave Mono a run for their money in terms of precision. I deliberately avoided listening to these guys before I saw them, and coming in fresh was a god damn time, wowee. They were just so impactful, each riff hitting like a bombing run, with the softer interludes between the heavier sections both letting everyone repressurise while simultaneously building anticipation. They also come with a fully programmed black-and-white, creepy-as-fuck video accompaniment, which beautifully complimented the music and culminated in one of the best “sensory overload” set finishers I’ve ever seen. It was deliberately overwhelming and reinforced my belief that when it’s done well, a live show can be so much more than what some bands give it. It’s necessary to mosh your little heart out or program an hours worth of footage and lighting, but when you really commit to it, you can create something that transcends expectations and (perhaps unfairly) raises the bar for every other live act. Amenra were superb, and given that this show was the last of the tour if you’re reading this without having seen them then you missed out, sucked in.

About

Mitch is a 26 year old vegan, socialist, atheist, utilitarian, reductionist metalhead, stand up comedian and philosophy major that hates labels. When he isn't being politely ignored at dinner parties he's being politely ignored on comedy nights around the country.