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Live Reviews : Glass Ocean, Opus of a Machine, Phambam, Little Rituals @ The Bendigo Hotel, Melbourne 7/12/2019

By on December 8, 2019

The Glass Ocean and Opus of a Machine tour, in fact the entire Melbourne lineup, may seem somewhat of a mismatch on paper, but when you are there enjoying this snapshot of the wondrous diversity inherent in the Aussie alternative/progressive rock and metal scene, such thought are a million miles from your mind.

Openers, Melbourne’s Little Rituals are a real surprise packet. They play a very snappy, sometimes funky take on alternative rock with superb vocals, inventive riffs and nuclear-strength basslines. In fact, the bass is so strong, they manage to be one of those bands that don’t rely on heavily overdriven guitars but still have a very fat and powerful sound. Their tunes are heaps of fun, and after a joyous 30 minute opening set the crowd vents its appreciation in uproarious fashion.

Nguyen Phambam is an irresistible local talent who has played/is playing with the likes of Alithia, Circles, tonight’s headliners Glass Ocean, and now he has stepped out on his own to pursue a solo career. The direction he has chosen for his solo works is wisely completely different to any of the above-mentioned acts, and again the supporting set is a very pleasant surprise. Opening with a brief but catchy intro on acoustic guitar with electric accoutrements, the full band then kicks in, replete with three guitars, a powerhouse drummer and M0dal1ty’s Alicia Richards filling in beautifully on bass. The sound is expansive and accessible, with Phambam’s vocals and the interweaving interactions of the guitars real highlight, and again the very solid Bendigo crowd is extremely giving with its applause.

It’s been a very varied lineup so far, and it takes another very sharp turn in the form of Brisbane’s mighty Opus of a Machine. It’s time to get heavy.

I’ve seen this band several times previously, and while I’ve certainly enjoyed their sets, getting up close and personal with them this time, in such an intimate setting, ensured that this became my favourite show of theirs. The heavy parts just felt heavier, the more atmospheric parts more immersive and the intricacies of their musicianship are far more apparent when they’re right in your face. And the bonus this time is that they treat us to two brand new tunes that are extremely strong and powerful, exhilarating even, and whet the appetite for a new album from these boys. Hopefully sometime next year.

The smooth musical moves of Sydney’s Glass Ocean are a different kettle of fish again. They have an unusual sound, aura and stage presence to them, and it’s really quite beguiling. On record, this band is quite easy on the ear in a left of centre kind of way, and while they come across as a touch heavier in a live setting, the sound is still sweet and atmospheric. The rhythms are off-kilter, although still easy to sway to, the guitars swirl and intertwine and in frontman Tobias Atkins they have a refreshingly unconventional and compelling vocalist. It’s a very heady mix.

Highlight of the Glass Ocean set is the beautiful The Miracle.

So completes yet another riveting and highly satisfying evening of all-Aussie alternative rock. It is said that variety is the spice of life and music and this lineup, and indeed our scene overall, has it in droves.

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.