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Live Reviews : The Omnific, Toehider, Malcura, Abbey Rose @Worker’s Club, Melbourne, 31/05/2019

By on June 1, 2019

It is obvious thought has been put into the creation of this bill, it is about as varied as can be imagined for a local rock night of this nature at a small venue, whilst still remaining highly enjoyable and palatable for the very solid throng of punters who have come out on this cool late-Autumn Melbourne evening. It is The Omnific’s night, but we are in for a real journey before we get to this evening’s headliner.

On paper, to a purist, Abbey Rose probably doesn’t belong on this bill. But to the more open-minded music aficionado, that’s just pigeonholing bullshit. She opens proceedings in about the most fun and different way possible, her jazzy pop-rock an absolute delight. For a moment some punters may have thought they had strayed into the Nightcat, a jazz venue at the other end of Brunswick Street, by mistake, but she wins us over quickly with her simultaneously sassy and understated presence, her smoky, infectious voice and witty between-song banter. The band behind her, two of whom interestingly play with sheet music on a stand in front of them, lock in in a tight and jammy manner behind her, and her 30 minute opening set puts a smile on the dial of every last punter. She even gets many a black-clad rocker movin’ and a-groovin’ along to the bluesy tunes, especially the vibey last two numbers.

Time to take an even greater step out into left field. Melbourne three-piece Malcura is an oddity, although a highly enjoyable one. Two acoustic guitarists and a drummer throwing flamenco music into a pot with a pinch of spicy rock ‘n’ roll and seeing what comes out. And what comes out is a highly eclectic and entertaining all-instrumental show (although there are the odd vocal moments here and there). Their set is percussive, it is propulsive, and it is progressive and again the crowd laps it up like the kitty who got the cream (the relentless cries of “you’re a bunch of sick c*nts” are testament to this). Their own highly unique instrumental take on The Rolling Stones’ Paint it Black is a particular highlight.

Toehider are a phenomenon, albeit a highly underrated one. A truly unique presence in the Aussie progressive rock landscape, they are as heavily influenced by Van Halen and Queen as they are by Tool, combining blindingly dextrous musicianship with soaring, 80s-esque vocals. Tonight as first support they get a full hour to wind out and show us what they can do. Main man Mike Mills dazzles with his blistering fretboard abilities, often matching that with his multi-octave voice, and the band behind him are just as skilled on their individual instruments. But the highlights of a Toehider show are the quirky but exhilarating songs, such as This Conversation is Over, Millions of Musketeers and How do Ghosts Work?, and the effortless, extroverted showmanship, and tonight is not an exception.

More smiles.

And those grins just keep coming as The Omnific take the stage. It is an exciting time for this relatively new band, a band that has come a long way in a short time: tonight is their hometown EP launch and tomorrow they jet off for their very first overseas jaunt.

The diverse nature of this evening’s bill is emphasised right down to the last moment. This band’s twin-bass, progressive instrumental wizardry is a joy to behold. In fact, their show is not just a bass guitar tour de force, every show this band does is actually like a professional  bass guitar lesson. And not just a lesson in how to smoothly and dexterously get your way around a bass’s fretboard, but also how to lock into the pocket with other players while you blind people with your skill.

Tonight the band bring in extra laser lighting, which is highly effective and adds an aura to the show, although it is blinding when it hits you right in the retina. They give the crowd a solid 50 minutes of bass histrionics in the context of their compelling instrumental compositions, mainly garnered from the EP they are launching, The Mind’s Eye, plus a heavily demanded encore, and they send the crowd home happy that they, and the bill they’ve provided this evening, have given them a wild musical ride.

The Omnific. We must be thankful that such an enjoyable anomaly exists. At all, let alone in our country, and city.

About

Rod Whitfield is a Melbourne-based writer and retired musician who has been writing about music since 1995. He has worked for Team Rock, Beat Magazine, themusic.com.au, Heavy Mag, Mixdown, The Metal Forge, Metal Obsession and many others. He has written and published his memoirs of his life and times in the music biz, and also writes books, screenplays, short stories, blogs and more.