Published on April 23rd, 2015 | by The Beige Baron0
Live Review: DEAD @ Swamplands, April 18
— Review by Warnskagz Warner. Main Photo: Lloyd Honeybrook
I’m standing in the chilly but welcoming band-room basement of a DIY house-venue in the northern suburbs of Melbourne, watching a two-piece band called DEAD. Nevertheless, I’m feeling very much alive, because about five minutes into their set it dawns on me, as it must have already dawned on the other 50-or-so awestruck disciples huddled in communion on that cold April evening. We are all witnessing bona fide rock ‘n’ roll greatness.
Writing this now, it’s hard to recall too many specific mechanics of the music DEAD played for 40-odd minutes. Sure, I remember snippets – there was a bit where Jem (drums) played lightning-quick triplets for about two-minutes straight before Jace (bass) emerged, like Manfred Von Richthofen, all guns blazing with a murderous riff from hell and BANG – locked straight in and screaming, we all go down in a blaze of flames, guts, and glory. I remember that bit.
There was also another bit, where halfway through the song everything went very quiet and Jace told a true-life story of being a silly drunk teenager and rubbing his naked genitals up against a venue window in silent, avant-garde protest against being refused entry to watch some god-awful band playing inside (awesome), only to then let us all know this was OK because he was drunk at the time, before declaring, “The Australian Redneck is Alive and Well”. I remember that bit too, as it made me deeply uncomfortable, which was no doubt the point.
But that’s about all the specifics I can recall. Instead, what has stayed with me all week was the feeling I got whilst watching DEAD. Because to experience them in live performance mode is to feel as though you’ve somehow infiltrated a world where watered-down versions of things no longer exist.
Paradoxically, somehow, amid the grave-plundering tone and sonic violence of the songs, there is a beautiful calm at DEAD gigs that you continually find yourself returning to. A place where earthly concerns seem trivial and quickly forgotten, and you’re then left standing, staring, completely entranced and transfixed, fully surrendered and ready to willingly travel wherever their songs want to take you next.
Like all those who’ve come before them, and the piles more who’ll come after them, DEAD are a band. But they are not like other bands. To see them live, with all the superhuman musicianship and ear-splitting volume, is to be presented with a straightforward and potentially intimidating choice– engage, and be fully present, or leave (but good luck trying to mouth where you’re going to your mate, probably better to text).
Whilst this might seem pushy to some folk, by showing up and going along for the ride on offer, you may well end up with a smile on your face all week just like I did. Not bad for $10.
DEAD, go see them live.