Rocky Waters Promotions are a newly founded promotion company in Melbourne, and they have recently begun bringing the goods in showcase of local talent in the heavy music scene. This Thursday evening punters escaped the rain to cosy up in the homely Retreat Hotel for some drinks and hearty pub meals amongst a relaxed setting of free live music. Between the moody lighting, dining tables, disco ball, chandelier and the wooden shack-like stage frame, the humble venue possesses a lot of character.

Kicking off the night’s entertainment at 8:30pm was Saffire, a solo songstress from Melbourne. She held the spotlight with her emotive performance of original material exploring life, love and pain. Her melodic vocals had a real grungy texture to them, bringing to mind the likes of Kurt Cobain and Joan Jett; both in range and tone. Alongside her vocals, Saffire also played an electronic keyboard, improvising guitar, drum, tambourine and violin as backing instrumentals given the absence of a backing band. One track ‘Of Course, Of Course’ had an upbeat piano riff somewhat reminiscent of ‘Summer Nights’ from the classic musical Grease. Punters could be seen bobbing and swaying in their seats, with several also standing off to the sides of the venue.  Another called ‘Looking Back’ saw a softening in vocal tone, once again showing impressive skill which could be comparable to that of Jewel. Coupled with slow violin it made for rich melodic value. The set concluded with a shift into dramatic piano hits, which gave a similar vibe of danger to the tension build present in old horror films. It would be interesting to see Saffire perform with a full live band; the rich tones provided by instruments would really serve to expand and further compliment her vocal talent and stage performance.

Next at 9:15 pm we had Ballarat alternative metal band ANKL take to the stage with tracks from their self-titled EP, which is available for free download via Bandcamp. Vocalist Damien Fletcher instantly gripped the audience, crouching low to the ground and rocking gently back and forth as he sang with charismatic and eccentric presence. Fletcher effortlessly shifted between sections of powerful melodies, intense screams and also at times fast-spoken verses; presenting clear depth and variety to their sound, which is not easily defined. Over the course of their set, and even within singular songs, there was an array of elements spanning over genres such as progressive rock and metal, nu-metal and also aspects of melodic death metal. At times there were notable influences from Tool in the tonal qualities of guitar riffs. Fletchers vocal capabilities with his cleans could be comparable to Chris Cornell’s impactful and emotive melodic deliveries. At other points bands such as Mastodon and Soen came to mind. The fast-spoken sections of verse instantly brought to mind the impressive skills of Serj Tankian, which is an ode to Fletchers talent. Fittingly, toward the end of their set they played a cover of ‘Sugar’ by System Of A Down, which they delivered with outstanding precision and accuracy. This sparked a four-man mosh pit which injected enthusiasm and intensity into the atmosphere, and further engaged the audience. The predominately deep and heavy nature of their overall sound was broken up with an injection of fun in the funky bass grooves; making their music as easy to dance to as it is to headbang along with. It was exciting to see the inclusion of bass soloing also. The set concluded with an epic drum finale.

Headlining were the heavy alternative four-piece Notice of Eviction, who took the stage at 10:00pm to sound off the night with a loud, swift punch. At this point of the night the venue also saw an influx of punters spread across the room, with several dancing in lively spirits and at one point a couple of people even broke into a bit of heel-and-toe (which the crowd loved). Their sound encompassed thrashy riffs, with trembling howls of high vibrato in sections; making for some infectious headbanging. Their set pertained an overall essence of nu metal, particularly in relation to the dual vocals akin to the likes of Linkin Park; who were seemingly an influence for the band given that at one point vocalist Richard Stevens informed the crowd that their single titled ‘Crawl’ would be “dedicated to the late Chester Bennington, may he rest in peace”. As the night drew a close they performed a progressive 3-part song which ascended and descended in an ebb and flow manner; drawing in the audience before release again by means of mellowing. Notice of Eviction are a band filled with energy, fun, emotion and talent in equal measures, and are sure to grow their following as they continue to release new music; particularly amongst the youth make-up of the heavy music community.

It was nice to see the 3-band line-up still include variety in style and sound; potentially exposing punters to something fresh and different they had not heard before. The atmosphere of the night was equally fun as it was relaxed within the intimate setting; fitting for those who would like to go out on a weeknight and also attend work the next morning. The earlier than usual finishing time of the show also catered to this.

Keep any eye out for future events from Rocky Waters Promotions at the below link:

You can also check out the bands pages at the following links: