GIG REVIEW: FEAR FACTORY, Circles & Tria Mera Live at The Tivoli, Brisbane
Having made their long awaited return to Australia, with their last performance being on the final Soundwave Festival event in 2015, I knew that the turnout for Fear Factory at the Tivoli was going to be big. This is a band that has been through more than most bands will ever experience, and to see them live is definitely something that everyone has to do at least once.
Opening the night were Brisbane locals Tria Mera, and there’s not much I can say about and their performance. That’s not because they were bad; but because they were just so damn good. The confidence of each member just exuded from the moment that the band walked out on stage. This was a band that commanded the attention of a headliner from their very first note, and I honestly haven’t seen a local support show such fervor in their performance for a long time. I’m not sure if it was the local contingent of fans was out to support their friends, or if they just really quickly won over the Fear Factory audience, but there was little doubt that even after a few minutes that these guys could move a crowd. Slotting in a Fear Factory chant into the rhythmic closing of their final song was a great way to get any of the remaining uninvolved audience members engaged in the their set and left a lasting impression for many. If you have any aspirations of playing in a band and were in attendance in the crowd then take note – that’s exactly how you open a show!
Melbourne’s Circles were up next and they were an interesting choice for a support. Playing a sound that would be more at home at a Periphery or Monuments show, the band definitely was quite abstract as a support – but credit where credit is due because it worked. Sounding like the love child of a progressive metal band and Skrillex is probably the best way to describe the band, but while that definition sounds scary, it’s actually where the band excelled. There was little to fault here as the samples and the guitar work that would usually fall down in a live setting stood up against the recorded versions. The band performed really well and eventually had the crowd on their side but it was more of a slower uptake than Tria Mera before them. Finding myself quite often transfixed on the antics of the bass player or the drummer (both of which had more energy than the Duracell Bunny) meant that my focus wasn’t on most of the other members and how they performed, but there was definitely a lot to like about their performance.
Once Fear Factory took to the stage it became little difficult to understand why this juggernaut has been rolling around since 1989 with Burton C. Bell putting on an absolutely blinding performance, barking and crooning his way around the stage to each of the bands tracks. This is an artist that knows exactly how to get the crowd feeding out of the palm of his hand, and he wasted little time in doing so with his Brisbane followers. The spotlight didn’t need to be entirely on him though, with guitarist Dino Cazares, and Bassist Tony Campos making the most of the ample space that the stripped back stage offered, interacting with the crowd while doing so. Even Mike Heller behind the drums managed to interact with the crowd, shooting some smiles out in-between blasts. This level of interaction was just a further reminder to me as to why so many people adore this band.
One thing that really stood out to me at this show was that Fear Factory didn’t want to disappoint their fans. The constant remarks from Bell that the turnout and response was phenomenal for the first night of the Australian tour, while adding that it had been far too long since the band had returned not only enamored the crowd, but also elicited a great response every time. Even Bell responding to comments made by the crowd, including telling one fan he loved her in response to her cry of “I Love you Burton” just further reinforced the showmanship of this well-oiled machine. Blitzing through a back catalog of tracks, with an obvious emphasis on their latest releases got fans that had been following the band from its inception, through to those that weren’t even born at that time a ‘complete’ Fear Factory experience, with the crowd going absolutely mental during tracks ‘Soulhacker’, ‘Edgecrusher’ and ‘Archetype’.
I don’t know if it was because I was enjoying myself so much, or if I completely lost track of the time, but the set seemed to breeze by and I found myself questioning why they were winding up after what felt like 6 songs, when it had in fact been 15 songs.Opting out of the usual ‘obligatory encore’ and instead finishing with belter ‘Replica’, just showed that the band plays by their own rules. Perhaps the final telling moment of this bands commitment to its fans came after every note and been played and the lights had come up, with all members except Dino leaving the stage, while Dino took the time to shake hands with, and thank every single person on the barrier. These simple actions go such a long way, and gestures like this will always create new fans, and retain old fans, and it’s this generous appreciation for their fans that will make the Fear Factory machine continue running for several years to come.