Karnivool – UOW Unibar 30.04.15
Cards on the table, I’ve never been a huge rock or metal fan. In my musically formative years I cut my teeth on pop and alternative music, skipping the Wolfmother/Foo Fighters phase that seemed to grip Australia when I was in high school. Even today my most formidable attempts to really get into the rock genre have only gone as far as bands such as Surfer Blood, DIIV and Arcade Fire, so needless to say I could use some more musical education in this field.
So going to a Karnivool concert I felt a little displaced, like I was betraying the general aura of hardcore fan mentality that was in the air. My only previous experience with Karnivool was over 7 years ago when I watched them play a set at Big Day Out on YouTube with my brother. At one point he said to me “Look how excited that crowd is” which was something that stuck in my mind while waiting for the band to take the stage. Unsurprisingly, the moment Ian Kenny (also of Birds of Tokyo) took the stage, screams and chants emerged from every corner of the room.
The sheer amount of enthusiasm that was present in this moment scared me a little, as I have a mild to heavy fear of hardcore mosh pits because of past experiences. But luckily the UOW Unibar offered a good venue for the proceedings. If you wanted to go crazy and crowd surf you could do so at centre stage, but if you were just looking to chill out and have a few drinks there were spaces where you could get an equally great view and experience.
Karnivool played the entirety of their Themata album, giving fans a no-holds-barred celebration of the album that came out a decade ago. The album seemed to be a favourite amongst fans. It’s loud, it’s intense, it’s head banging, but most of all it has surprising depth and universal emotions. “C.O.T.E.” started the evening with a bang, as the whole crowd shouted lines such as “Hold it, Hold it, I won’t leave you” in unison.
While the music is very obviously the integral part of a live performance, the aspect that determines a fun and memorable night for me is the cadence of the crowd, and the back and forth between audience and performer. A great gig feels united, like everybody is there for the same collective purpose, of which cannot be achieved without the full participation of the attendees. Karnivool had this, and then some.
Ian Kenny was largely charismatic, winning over the crowd with quick bits of banter before flying across stage and in to another song with reckless abandon. Before Karnivool had taken the stage I had overheard his name being thrown around a bit – always with glowing praise – and he certainly did not disappoint.
After the garland of hits that is Themata, the band delved backstage for the obligatory encore, returning with a few songs from their other albums, Sound Awake and Asymmetry. Their second to last track, “Aozora” was brand new, having its world premiere (so to speak) right then and there at UOW Unibar. It was some pretty exciting stuff, seeming like more of a throwback to their roots, so it was definitely a crowd-pleaser.
The evening came to a close with the track “New Day”, and the crowd went, to borrow a phrase, absolutely ballistic. A couple in front of me sang the lyrics in their entirety louder than the actual band, from where I was standing. Some might find this annoying but I thought it was rather endearing.
Ultimately it was a remarkably memorable gig. Ian Kenny and the Karnivool crew gave an energetic performance that played to the audience’s own enthusiasm. Even though rock isn’t necessarily a genre I go to gigs for, I would wholeheartedly recommend a Karnivool gig. The band’s energy and the infectious nature of fan excitement combine to create an intoxicating experience, full of dancing, singing and gig going camaraderie.
Photos courtesy of Britt Andrews Photography. You can see more photos for this gig and others here.