Call it what you will—rock, dream-pop, noise, indie—shoegaze has always, more than anything, hinged on …
DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT with sleepmakeswaves—170 Russell, Melbourne—23 May, 2017
Witnessing the brutality Manchester had me seething. I was mad. Mad enough to kill.
As editor of this fine publication (which one is that again?), music is kind of a big deal around here. Terror lancing through the heart of music is a counterpoint; a movement set to war. Those 22 souls cut from their lives that night will never be forgotten. Our tears can’t wash their memories away.
I really felt guilty stepping into 170 Russell to enjoy myself at a rock ‘n’ roll show.
The crowd at this first (yet second?) show on Canuck maestro Devin Townsend’s tour was moderate. Punters stood about, sensing there was something off, just about being here.
Sleepmakeswaves drummer slugged away as the boys around him stacked notes upon notes upon notes. I mean some prog bands are expensive excuses to buy new guitars and shit like that. Some dipshit armchair critic flanking me saying “they’d make good movie soundtracks” sounds like a regurgitated internet opinion. It’s hard to connect with an all-instrumental band you’ve not heard much of. I felt myself losing moments to their flowing melodies, which is a mark of quality in most people’s books.
Between sets, Ziltoid made his haughty appearance, wresting control of the PA. He made a point torturing us with Enya and siq tekkers beats, which is par for the course for an extra-terrestrial, coffee-addicted megalomaniac.
Devin is a humble man. He’s a fucking God among men, but he would never let himself believe that. Wearing a black shirt and pants, he makes a bee-line for the mic. “It’s been a dark day in the world,” he says, strapping his guitar in. “Let’s show it some light.”
Intimacy isn’t defined by proximity. Dev let us into his heart, and we let him into ours.
These words would prove prophetic.
Before launching into Rejoice, he mentioned his voice wasn’t up to scratch. In fact, he reached behind him for some tea in between songs here and there. When his voice soared above the mechanical gospel choirs … if he was having trouble, you’d never know it.
The greatest thing about Dev is that it really isn’t the Devin Townsend show. All of his crew is there with him; he really couldn’t do anything without them. Spiralling and mesmerising us through songs like Where We Belong and Hyperdrive, something curious happened.
Our stone-faced and forbidding exteriors cracked. Down tumbled the shale on to the floor, as Dev made funny faces and showed us how shredding like a champion looked so effortless.
We became human again.
We saw Dev transforming into Beast Mode for fan favourite Dead End, gnarling and roaring throughout the cut. Lights from above were drenching him in gold. He thanked us, for what seemed like the fiftieth time that night. We drew a sigh of relief. Maybe things are going to be okay.
Supercrush! Was a treat, Dev loosening up for Marge Simpson impressions and taking questions from the mosh. He kneeled to pick up some kind of surfboard necklace someone threw at him. Without missing a beat (literally) he wrapped it around his mic stand and kept on playing. Playing was right; it was hard to feel like a rational adult when March of the Poozers was just so much fun.
Stay With Me rounded out the set before the “inevitable encore,” a hilarious rendition of acoustic track Ee-Ah. As he talked and joked, we felt the room shrinking around us. It was like just us and Dev standing across from each other, sharing a beer (or tea, as Dev would want.). Intimacy isn’t defined by proximity. Dev let us into his heart, and we let him into ours. Even though it may have been full of hate and revulsion when we stepped into the place, he relieved it from us.
Rounding out the set, powering through Bastard and Higher, he screamed “Life is fucking beautiful.”
Glancing to the left, I saw an amateur air-drummer fucking up each and every note of Higher. I smiled.
I wanted to feel mad. I couldn’t.
Thank you, Devin.
REMAINING DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT TOUR DATES
Wednesday, 24th May 2017 – SOLD OUT
170 Russell, Melbourne
Friday, 26th May 2017
Tickets available from MJR Presents