Red Hill Auditorium, Red Hill WA
September 17, 2022
Featuring: Karnivool, COG, Ocean Grove, Plini, sleepmakeswaves, Reliqa and Yomi Ship
After touring the east coast in August, Monolith Festival completed its final leg of the tour in Perth/Whadjuk, at Red Hill Auditorium on an overcast, yet surprisingly sunny day and cold evening on Saturday the 17th of September. A mini-festival with seven prog-metal-rock bands, one stage, in the hills of Perth, set at an amphitheatre was the perfect setting for the homecoming of the mighty ‘Vool.
The afternoon started with local experimental instrumental prog-rockers Yomi Ship. A small crowd had gathered at the front of the stage to hear the band play a 30-minute set full of atmospheric songs with unconventional structures and time signatures, segueing from one sound to the other. The set included ‘S.H.A.M.A.N’ and ‘Sea Monkey’, a nice shout-out to the band’s parents, and it felt like you were witnessing an impromptu jazz jam, but with more fuzzy guitars and heavier drums.
Wall of Sound favourites Reliqa followed, with frontwoman Monique Pym coming out with the boundless energy of the Energizer Bunny yelling “Hello Perth!”, starting with ‘The Bearer of Bad News’, the band brought high energy and enthusiasm to the stage that saw the small crowd at the front start to grow. Unfortunately, the mix during the set was out, and Pym’s vocals, particularly during the spoken word/rap sections were drowned out by the guitars at the start of the performance. However, Reliqa performed a handful of songs, predominately from their new EP I Don’t Know What I Am, including ‘Safety’, in which Tom Kiely from Patient Sixty-Seven jumped on the stage to sing part of the vocals, ‘The Ritualist’, and finishing with ‘I Don’t Know What I Am’, giving it their all, proving that they are ones to watch.
Sydney/Warrane siders sleepmakeswaves were next. The instrumental post-rock/ prog-metal band performed an engrossing set, including the song ‘Pyramid’ making great use of the lighting to create an atmospheric tone. During the first two songs, there were some teething issues, with techs running around the stage trying to sort them out, however, the cool, calm professionalism of sleepmakeswaves meant that the show continued without any disruptions. Being an instrumental band with clear chord structures and melody, performing songs that are, to quote the band, “pure unadulterated rock and roll” with a “couple of gremlins” created an engaging and enjoyable 30 minutes during the afternoon.
As the sun was setting, Plini came on and by this stage, more people had arrived and the auditorium was filling out. Continuing to build on the atmosphere established by sleepmakeswaves, Plini’s light show and instrumental djent music, with its 80’s infused grooves captivated the audience. With some power chords thrown in for good measure, the crowd was headbanging and nodding along as Plini worked through his seven-song set.
After a quick dinner break (another good thing about one-stage festivals, you don’t miss out on any bands) and Ocean Grove jumped on stage. Surprising those who’d never heard of them before, Ocean Grove’s nu-metal, high-octane songs were compared to Limp Bizkit by those around me, although singer Dale Tanner live, sounds exactly like Jay Gordon from Orgy. Playing a ten-song set, starting with ‘Superstar’ the crowd were barely containing their joy with a lot of moshing and jumping going on. During ‘Sex Dope Gold’ and ‘Guys From Gord’ the backing track did a lot of the heavy lifting, with the guitarist and bassist not playing much. However, we saw that change when Ocean Grove slowed things down with ‘Silver Lining’, a more melodic alt/pop-punk song. Tanner got in on the action when he crowd surfed during both ‘Ask For The Anthem’ and the final tune ‘Sunny’. Although Ocean Grove were the odd band out in this lineup, (which is fitting considering they describe their genre as odd world music) they delivered an infectious, entertaining, high-energy show.
Coming on with smoke, blue lights and space-age music, were COG, who launched into ‘Bitter Pill’, with the crowd clapping along without needing any encouragement. Keeping the chatter to a minimum, “finally we’re here… let’s just focus on the music”, they played an hour set that enthralled the audience who succumbed to the music and Flynn Gower’s distinctive, clear vocals. COG performed; ‘Anarchy OK’, with an extended ending, ‘What If’, which got the audience’s cameras out, ‘Resonate’, ‘The Middle’ which saw the audience joining in by singing loudly, a Leftfield cover of ‘Open Up’, which led to lots of dancing, followed by ‘The Spine’. Gower then spoke of the importance of the land, bush and dirt, and how their aim was always to feel country in the music, much like Midnight Oil before starting ‘No Other Way’ which led to some crowd surfing, audience singing and flying shoes, before finishing the set off with their biggest track ‘Bird of Feather’.
After a short break to allow the roadies, stagehands and techs to do their thing, and a crowd singalong to ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ (playing over the speakers), it was the band everyone was waiting to see… Karnivool. Coming out to a flood-lit blue stage, the band played ‘Fear of The Sky’, and the punter’s reaction was instantaneous, with the crowd jumping, hands thrust into the air and phones out to record the proceedings. During the coda break of the tune, Ian Kenny spoke “Hey Perth. How’s everybody doing?” to a mass of cheers. ‘Goliath’ followed, with a change in the lighting, the crowd starting to crowd surf, then ‘Simple Boy’, which led to a lot of swaying and singing. Although Karnivool’s light show, and the use of the smoke machine helped to create an otherworldly vibe, it also obscured and made it difficult to see members of the band at times.
Finishing with ‘Simple Boy’, the crowd started chanting “Karnivool”, to show their love and appreciation of the band, Kenny introduced the next number ‘Animation’ as “something we’ve been working on”. A slower-paced song, with loud prog-rock guitar riffs interspersed between the lines, building to the climax, the crowd was appreciative of getting to listen to the new stuff early too. The moshpit really started to pick up during ‘Set Fire to The Hive’, which was maintained during the chaotic-ness of ‘The Refusal’.
Despite missing his cue, and an awkward start, the audience were in the palm of the band’s hand during ‘We Are’, but it was during ‘Roquefort’ where the fans went crazy. Singing the opening lines “you want to chase this rabbit down the hole…” Kenny was practically drowned out. And this continued throughout the song, where the audience just took over and sang specific verses and lines. It is one of those beautiful things to see and be a part of, and shockingly the crowd sang well! Which to be honest, doesn’t always happen in these situations. ‘Roquefort’ easily got the biggest response of the night, which rolled over when the opening bars of ‘Themata’ played, leading to more dancing, bobbing and jumping. After messing up the start, and making a joke of it, ‘New Day’ played to an enraptured crowd singing along.
Karnivool left the stage to cheers, but with ambient music still playing in the background, everyone knew an encore was imminent. Coming back on they played their most recent single ‘All It Takes’ and then one of their oldest tracks ‘Fade’, which closed the show.
Watching Karnivool is always a great experience, Ian Kenny has one of the best voices in the contemporary Australian alternative/metal scene, and the band, even with the little hiccups always play with such professionalism and poise. Leaving Monolith on that high (in many punters’ cases, literally high), felt like leaving a church service, where you were praising at the altar of prog-rock/metal, and paying respects to the best that Australia has to offer.
Festival Review by Carys Hurcom @CarysWos