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PAGAN with Crave Death, Blind Girls & Masochist
Saturday 18 August, 2018
At 8pm on a Saturday, one of Brisbane’s most beloved bars started stamping wrists for what was set to be a heavy metal love affair.
With all the supporting bands on the bill featuring non-male members, it was set to be a showcase of the importance of equality in music and set a tone regarding the ongoing arguments surrounding festival bills lacking a female presence.
MORE: TROPHY EYES: The Dreamers And The Doers // ALPHA WOLF: … And Out Come The Breakdowns // OUTRIGHT: Don’t Holler Atcha Girl
REVIEWS: TROPHY EYES: The American Dream // AS IT IS: The Great Depression // PLINI: Sunhead`// DORO: Forever Warriors, Forever United
Masochist came out, and before their set acknowledged the owners of the land, something that isn’t done too often in the scene. The Lismore based four piece were out to dismiss anyone who doesn’t believe women belong in the heavy metal scene, and that they weren’t afraid to raise their voice about it. Playing through the majority of their 2018 EP release Blinded, the band took the room back to the roots of heavy with a similar sound to bands like Terror.
Before finishing on their track Vengeance, lead vocalist Rose, launched into a discussion about the importance of diversity and representation in the scene, ending the conversation with an aggressive but succinct “People who act like gatekeepers in the scene can get fucked!” Masochist finished strong and prepared the crowd for a night filled with yelling and a high standard of socio-political commentary.
Despite kicking around the scene since 2012 and hailing from the not too far away Gold Coast, Blind Girls are still fairly low on the radar. With 4 EP’s floating around on Band Camp, the band played a mixture of songs from their discography. There wasn’t many stand out moments, there weren’t any lows either, which generally constitutes a decent set. The band had consistent and strong breakdowns and the crowd was a 50/50 split of being either really into it, or staring at their phones indifferently.
After supporting Thy Art Is Murder the previous week at The Crowbar, and Tired Minds at Betty’s the week before that, Crave Death was having a big month and the set they played showed no signs of slowing down. Crave Death is a certified local to The Crowbar as Brisbane locals themselves, and self-described ‘Hell Metal’, they didn’t disappoint with some dirty riffs and angry vocals.
As soon as the opening chords started and lead vocalist Candice Bankovacki asked the crowd if they’re ‘fucking ready?’ and as if in a trance the crowd formed a pit. Playing a mixture of tracks off their 2016 EP Life After Death—The Demonstration’ and unreleased tracks, the band hinted at having something due for release soon.
Explaining the meaning behind one of the unreleased tracks, frontwomen Candice Bankovacki dedicated it to anyone who had suffered at the hands of sexual assault and condemned any perpetrators letting them know they could burn in hell. Ending an incredibly earnest set strong they closed on their track Burn and judging by the line at their merch desk between sets, they gained a lot of fans last night.
The entire night was a thorough reminder that having disgusting heavy riffs and being a safe space for non-male, POC, and LGBTQI crowds isn’t mutually exclusive, Pagan did it, and they did it well.
Unfortunately, any of the momentum and energy that had built-up during the supporting sets had almost dissolved entirely in the 40-minute break between sets. One drunk middle-aged man decided that if he kept whistling for about ten minutes straight the band would speed up their sound check and play just for him. Alas, this wasn’t the case and the band came on stage at 11 pm to a bell tolling. All was forgiven when Pagan initiated the chords for Il malocchio si apre, between screaming the opening lyrics and dousing herself in wine Vocalist Nikki Brumen stood up on the newly installed barrier of The Crowbar and danced with the crowd.
More spiritual experience than live music, Pagan played through the majority of the new album, in a reimagined order that was slightly better suited to a live setting. They dedicated the track Blood Moon to all the bands that supported them earlier in the night, and with WAAX’s very own Maz DeVita side of stage to support friends, the night was an incredible showcase of women in the scene.
Moving into the track Year of the Dog Nikki once again got intimate with the crowd, head almost touching the roof whilst standing on top of the barrier, and then she did what no one expected and fell into the crowd letting them take control.
The second show on their album tour, Pagan decided they were comfortable enough in what Nikki described as “Not even our home away from home, it’s just our home in general” to open up about the usually private inspirations behind the tracks. Before playing Fluorescent Snakes they opened up saying “This next song is about suffering insane anxiety attacks to the point that you black out and can’t see straight, this song is a fuck you to mental illness but I want you all to party to it at the same time … so I guess it’s like sad, but happy. Let’s dance!”
Closing the set with the same track as the album closes with Il malocchio si chude the band really closed the gap between the show being less of a show and more of a ritual. As the bell tolled and the band walked off stage, it was evident that everyone in the room had gotten more than they’d bargained for in the show and it was clear this was a heavily underrated band in the scene. The entire night was a thorough reminder that having disgusting heavy riffs and being a safe space for non-male, POC, and LGBTQI crowds isn’t mutually exclusive, Pagan did it, and they did it well.
Catch Pagan at the following dates:
Fri 24 Aug // The Tote // Melbourne
Sat 25 Aug // Brisbane Hotel // Hobart
Fri 31 Aug // Lansdowne Hotel // Sydney
Disclaimer: Nikki Brumen and Dan Bonnici, members of Pagan, are former contributors to Hysteria Media.