Darkcell’s Psycho Circus has been tearing across the East Coast with a massive and diverse performance led by the eponymous Brisbane Industrial Metal titans. With the show running for close to nine hours, it could barely be contained within the confines of the Melbourne’s intimate Bendigo Hotel.
The show opened with Melbourne’s Mass Rejection, who provided a fitting blend of alternative Metal and Industrial. The frontman’s vocal style seemed quite influenced by Rob Zombie, though the sound drew on a range of 90s and early 2000s influences perhaps including Disturbed and Marilyn Manson. While the music fit the bill, it was a bit of a slow start in terms of stage presence, with the bassist in particular remaining quite still and withdrawn.
The energy picked up in a big way when Spaulding hit the stage, with frontman Steev Killface immediately claimed it as his own. A very visually impressive moment took place when Killface took one of drummer Loz Vegas’ sticks and “stabbed” himself several times with it, bursting blood packs under his white shirt for that freshly-murdered look.
Auckland’s Black Alpine brought a significant change of pace with their sound largely nodding to the heavy rock of the 70s, including Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. Indeed, frontman Adam ‘Dionize’ Farr has a style quite reminiscent of Robert Plant, while resident shredder A.C. Courtnell proves himself more than capable of carrying the flame of Jimmy Page or Ritchie Blackmore. As if to remove any doubt of their roots, Black Alpine closed with a cover of Black Sabbath’s ‘The Wizard,’ which they pulled off with aplomb.
Keeping within the rock spectrum, the next band up were the night’s flag-bearers of 80s glam, White Devil Detroit. The influence of AC/DC running through their veins was palpable, with frontman Jake Blatchly in particular seeming to pay homage to Bon Scott. The band weren’t afraid to push into some Steel Panther-esque humour either, with Blatchly at one point embellishing his loins with about half a dozen sparklers that duly caught fire in an eye-watering moment that brought about serious concern for his manhood.
Next up were Coffin Carousel, bringing back the horror punk vibe. Unfortunately the band were letdown by a fairly low energy performance from frontman Howard Von Noise, which was surprising given he is a seasoned veteran of live performance – having even supported Marilyn Mason in 2009 with Hatchet Dawn. However, his presence seemed recalcitrant, even nervous; and the performance overall simply fell flat.
Another change of pace took place with post-apocalyptic Industrial cyberpunks Sirus hitting the stage. Gone were the guitars and bass of previous bands, to be replaced with laptops, keyboard and other electronic gear. However, the appearance of live drummer Ryan Perillo was welcome, adding a great deal of grit and power to the modern, dubstep-influenced Industrial sound. Vocalist Danielle McKay seemed to take a few songs to hit her stride, but once she did, she added a beautiful element of offset Josh Rombout’s harsh vocals to create a dense and varied sound.
Bringing the Psycho Circus back to its home-turf of horror-infused Industrial Metal, Flat-Liner performed some sonic necromancy to raise the spectres of the early days of 90s Marilyn Manson, with a twist of modern flair. Frontman Grey railed against the mores of society with a hearty charisma, while the familiar face of Spaulding’s D’artagnan took on bass duties once more in her alter ego S. Horrors. The in-your-face performance drew heavily on the band’s recent EP ‘,’ with a couple of old favourites thrown in for good measure.
Nerve provide both an unabashed homage to, and understated parody of, 90s and early 2000s Nu Metal that nods primarily to Rage Against the Machine and Slipknot. The band’s antics are geared towards stirring up the aggression of the era, raising nostalgia for it, and poking fun at it – a fine line to walk, and song after song Nerve pulled it off in a way that highlights skill and nuance of performance that might be missed if only glossing over the surface.
One of the more incongruous additions to the bill, Adelaide’s KidCrusher is a rapper who often draws on samples of horror movies and heavy music to flesh out his backing. Though the act was formed in 1996, it’s been some years since KidCrusher appeared on stage. Nevertheless, the rapper appeared quite at home and dominated the stage with his rapid-fire delivery, and blend of creepiness and humour in his presentation. While it was odd to have an act who didn’t play any instruments at all, there was certainly a contingent within the crowd who could get on board with something quite different.
Hard rockers London were next up on the bill, and being a new band still working on their debut release, it’s unfortunate their performance was so plagued by technical issues. From frontwoman London Gabraelle being almost inaudible for the first few songs, to terrible feedback that just refused to be dealt with, it was clearly disappointing for the band. Nevertheless London made the best of the situation, and the audience in turn gave back, but ultimately the audio situation made it very challenging to enjoy what could have otherwise been a great set.
Closing the night of course were curators and headliners Darkcell, Brisbane’s premiere Industrial Metal act. Frontman Jesse Dracman was in fine form, commanding the stage with harsh vocals while every now and then belting out a clean bellow to show off his vocal chops in a new light. Both charismatic and professional, it was clear why Darkcell were able to launch their own East Coast festival tour. Moreover, Dracman “un-officiated” a wedding between two punters on stage, a unique and glorious moment. Speaking of unique and glorious, the festival closed with Darkcell jamming Nine Inch Nails’ classic ‘Head Like a Hole’ with band members from across the line-up, a fittingly chaotic end to a gig known as the Psycho Circus.
GET TICKETS FOR THE BRISBANE PSYCHO CIRCUS ON SEPTEMBER 8TH HERE!