By Gray Vickers
Artist: Jack The Stripper
Date / Venue: Saturday July 2nd, 2016 - Crowbar, Brisbane
There is a certain charm to Brisbane's Crowbar. Tucked down the end of Fortitude Valley, sandwiched between strip clubs and sex shops, this dark cavernous stalwart of the Brisbane music scene has seen some shit! A favourite amongst local, national touring and international punk and metal bands, Crowbar is well an truly ingrained in the heavy music scene. So it makes sense that Melbourne's extreme metal masters, Jack The Stripper would choose this place for the Brisbane stop on their Nibiru national tour. As I casually stroll down the stairs into the dimly lit venue, the familiar stench of sweat and stale beer wafts through the air. This is rock and roll. Time to grab a Crowbar Lager and wait for the band's to start.
I feel it's important to preface the beginning of this review by saying I've been a metal fan for more than half of my life. I've been to many many metal shows, nearly died in multiple mosh pits, I've feared for my life in circle pits and walls of death. I say of this, because none of that could prepare me what I was about to witness.
Within 30 seconds of Melbourne's Drivetime Commute starting, their near naked singer who had just ripped off his gimp mask was in the crowd, throwing arms and ramming into punters who were more than happy to reciprocate with their own flying arms and kicks as the audience divided itself between the fight dancers and those who took a few casual steps back to avoid the melee. Showing off their individually remarkable musical chops, all members of Drivetime Commute threw themselves around the stage and in the crowd causing complete chaos – but I can't help but feel that was the plan. The band juxtaposed asymmetrical riffs and blast beats with solid breakdowns and a few tasty grooves. But the winner on the day of aggression. This is an aggressive band yet as their lead singer left the stage, covered in his own head blood, his smile was unmistakable - they did done their job and ripped shit up.
By the time Humality hit the stage, Crowbar was starting to fill up. As the crowds came in, they were greeted by Humality's crushingly heavy grooves. This band is a djent wet dream. Super tight and incredibly polished musicians bounced their way through lengthy syncopated section with roaring vocals. Dark synths and huge sub drops littered through the set to the delight of the growing crowd. The Brisbane locals put on a great high energy show, and received a great response for their efforts.
Its also worth noting that during their set, I witnessed hands down the most metal thing I have ever seen - one giant man eating a bowl of nachos right in the middle of the pit!
By this point of the night, as Crowbar continues to fill up, it was clear this was a gig embedded within the scene. Audience members bouncing between groups of people to socialise and talk about the music. In amongst the chaos of the bands on stage, it all makes sense that this is why everyone is here. Metal has always been an outlet for bands and audiences alike to share a common bond and get their frustrations and aggressions out, which everyone at Crowbar is absolutely doing tonight.
Sydney boys, Justice for the Damned hit the stage after a short break to unleash their brutal brand of death metal. Ferocious growls and blistering blast beats opened the pit right up as the audience began to really start participating. By end the end of their second track, the floor had begun to rotate as heads banged through the enormous sounds coming from on stage. Fists and kicks were flying again against a backdrop of gargantuan breakdowns and pummeling drums. Frantic energy reigned supreme through Justice for the Damned's set and now the punters were ready for the main event.
As Jack the Stripper take the stage, the mosh pit is about ready to punch it's way into another universe. To truly paint the picture of this band, they are not your run of the mill metal band. In music, the term “Accessible” is bantered around as way to measure how easy a band would be for average listener to pick up and enjoy. Jack the Stripper are not an accessible band. What they are is a cacophony of drums, bass, guitars, and guttural screams. This is a band that is absolutely unapologetically determined to carve their own sound and niche in the very tough extreme metal genre.
Their set is short and sweet, although the band can hardly be expected to perform more than 40 minutes at the intensity and ferocity that they do. Lead vocalist Luke Frizon is a force to be reckoned with, lurking over the audience, balancing between the foldback monitors and the low beam that hangs above the stage. Without hesitation, he's in the pit, mixing it up with the crowd. His delivery and conviction in his performance is undeniable. Despite unleashing a range of roars and screams, his voice never wavers and his energy maintains an inhumanly high level throughout the show. The rest of the band are tight as hell. During the manic sections, there is always a great balance of control in their playing no matter what tempo or intensity they're exhibiting. Tasteful subs are thrown into the mix to accentuate some of the heavy breakdowns and hits. Max Reps on the drums is an absolute monster and held together what can only be described as musical anarchy without fault.
This performance was as physical as it was musical. The crowd participation was outstanding, as the kids threw themselves around the dance floor, limbs flailing in every direction. The band was as in your face as a only venue such as Crowbar can afford. Right in the faces of their audience is where Jack The Stripper thrive. This is a well oiled touring machine. The performance was flawless and the the breakneck intensity in which they delivered it was remarkable. As soon as it began, it felt like it was over – but no doubt, those boys left every ounce of energy on the Crowbar stage.
After an evening full of absolutely punishing and smashing metal, I think it's time to put on some Adele to bring my pulse back to a regular speed!