There’s nothing like a small pub gig to show the contrast between reality and what happens on the stage. Like lugging your gear into the venue, scrambling to set it up between sets, then pulling it down and lugging it back out to the Tarago after you play that last chord. Then it’s back to the merch desk to hopefully sell a few CDs and T-shirts. But for that moment that you are on stage you are no mere mortal. Your sense of theatre can be out of proportion with the size of the venue and crowd, but as you strut around the stage like a peacock it’s all about you and the shyest, mildest person can suddenly become a fire breathing dragon. Hmm did I just use a peacock and dragon metaphor in one sentence – sorry. In any case, to me it’s that contrast between performer and civilian that makes a pub gig so much fun.

And so it was last Saturday at the Evelyn Hotel in Melbourne where the makeup was black and smeared, the clothes were black, the hair long and black, and the music very metal and dark and angry and loud as Death By Six took to the stage to open the show. The riffs were solid, the pace fast and the contrast of harsh and even harsher vocals filled the room well. It seemed an odd opening for Kettlespider but it got the blood flowing.

Next up were metalcore five-piece Driven To The Verge, who recently supported The Amity Affliction and created a huge layered wall of sound, although much of the intricate guitar work was lost in the mix or drowned out by the growling vocals of Rusty. They played a good fast set with songs that had great structure and feel, with some awesome breakdowns. Definitely need to see these guys again.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay for the fourth band and joint headline, White Cell, but third up were the band I had come to see. In a few short months, young Melbourne instrumental rockers Kettlespider have gone from their first support gig at the Tote to recording an album (which we reviewed here on TINAS), and now they were holding their album launch. They play a melodic, progressive instrumental rock, and when I say play, I mean with passion and precision.

Without any fuss they set up and got straight into playing their new record, the chiming chords of the opening moments of “Discovery” soon leading to the first of many riffs that would be handed back and forth between shoegazing guitarists Haris and Scott. Colin on six-string bass (you could do your ironing on the finger board of that thing when you weren’t playing it) provided the contrasting animation as he picked out the foundations of the sound, while the dynamics were led by the meticulous drumming of Simon.

Next up was “Avadante”, building the waves of sound with its great exploration of timing before it was Geoffrey‘s turn to shine on keys in the slower paced “Comatose”. An exceptional song on record, the live version somehow found even more in the tank and was a real crowd pleaser.

As “Revelations” started with its powerful bass and drums we were ready to get the heads rocking back and forth and those awesome chords didn’t disappoint. One of the strengths of the record is the track listing and the way it flows, and it translated perfectly live – the songs are all so strong that you can’t really pick a highlight. One of the band’s strengths is their confidence – the sort of confidence that sees you round out your set at an album launch with a new song. Cheeky sods.

Clearly on a high, Harry took a few opportunities to engage with the crowd and thank them for showing up to support them, Simon also chipping in with a couple of thank-yous. As Harry said, you only have one debut record launch in your life, so it’s a genuine milestone. The crowd clearly agreed.

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