Dark Mofo isn’t like anything I’ve ever been to before. Sure, its major attraction is the darker artistic atmosphere, but also, you have to really dive into everything that’s on offer in order to truly get the full experience. As a metal fan, I came here to see the heavy bands on show, but I was also open to the festivities taking me on a journey and last night we went from one extreme side of the musical world to the other…
A Hut in Toyama: Viola Concerto with The Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra
Acclaimed English composer Gavin Bryars wrote his latest work during the COVID pandemic lockdown after being separated by his entire family. The highs and lows of his experience can be heard in the vast array of string instruments performed by the impeccable Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and featuring soloist Morgan Goff. The work was inspired by a twelfth-century Japanese book by Kamo-no-Chomei which told the story of living in an isolated ten-foot-square hut he built in the forest after earthquakes, storms and fires devastated Kyoto.
With no singing or lyrical content, we were taken on a journey of symphonic bliss, emotionally lifting highs (and dark lows) all the while maintaining a smile on our faces. As discussed post-show with a few patrons, performances don’t always need to be headbang worthy to be considered heavy, and the show we saw last night encapsulated that experience with precision and class.
Lo! and Injured Ninja
From one extreme (symphony orchestra) to the other (heavy metal) you don’t get more obscure than this – but because we’re at Dark Mofo, anything goes! At the Odeon Theatre we arrived just in time for Perth three-piece Injured Ninja who took to the stage with a loud commotion and screams, so raw, they were almost still kicking. At first I couldn’t find myself latching onto their signature sound but after photographer (and music guru) Benji Alldridge informed me they’re like a hybrid of At The Drive In, Sigur Ros and Godspeed You! Black Emperor, it became evidently clear what kind of genre-crossing heaviness we were dealing with.
If you like DZ Deathrays, but think they’d be better with disjointed time signatures and chanting, then go check these guys out!
After a long day of eagerness anticipation, the red lights dimmed upon the Odeon and for the first time in a very long time Lo! took to the stage and began the proceedings we’ve been waiting for, hearing them play their 2017 stellar album Vestigial in full and goddamn it was a sight for sore eyes. Frontman Sam Dillon slinked his way onto the stage alongside Adrian Griffin, Adrian Shapiro and Carl Whitbread who wasted no time getting the party started by bashing out opening tracks ‘Hall of Extinct Animals‘ and ‘As Fools Ripen‘ which had the bottom row attendees headbanging in their seats.
The awesome-foursome looked stoked to be back on stage following the covid pandemic which stripped them of their ability to play live and after 18 months, they were wasting no time in getting us all pumped up again for some metal in a live setting. Sam addressed the inactions of the government with the crowd, pointing out how hard it is for the arts to survive in these turbulent times and hoping they’d invest more money into the dying industry. This was met by wild cheers and applause from across the entire venue. Standout moments obviously go to ‘Locust Christ‘, ‘Judas Steer‘ and the album’s artwork, the infamous propellor swaying side to side on the big screen above the boys, but also the smiles on their faces as they played through the album. Oh, and Sam took his shirt off which caused things to heat up just a little more than usual (considering it’s the dead of winter here in Tassie!).
As ‘Gods of Ruin‘ took us to the end of the show, we were all considerably pleased, but could have sat through an encore of two (if the powers that be allowed it to happen). Sadly, the lads left the stage with Sam racing back on to grab his microphone before disappearing in the wings. Lo! did not disappoint and I can safely say the entire festival’s experience would not have been the same had they not been added to the lineup. It’s left this reviewer wanting more from the Sydney band and I can’t wait to see what they’ve been working on, as Dillon discussed with us during his pre-festival interview (revisit that here).
Words by Paul ‘Browny’ Brown @brownypaul