GIG REVIEW: Periphery, Circles & Polaris Live at Max Watts, Brisbane
There are very rare occasions where you go to watch a show and the stars align and everything just fits together perfectly – and Periphery’s first show at Max Watts House of Music in Brisbane on their current Australian tour was one of those occasions.
Ok I’ll admit… I stuffed up, and by that I mean that I stuffed up because for some stupid, silly, insane reason I had not seen or brought myself to listen to Polaris before tonight’s show. Don’t worry, I promptly went out and grabbed their EP straight after their set, but rest assured I’ll never stay under a musical rock like that again. Where do I even begin? The band perfectly marries progressive guitar playing with a metalcore sound that literally slaps you in the face. I could rattle on forever about their performance, but the main thing you need to know is that the guitarists absolutely shred and the harsh/clean vocal interplay between the main vocalist and the band’s bassist is at a level that would put most of their peers or genre superstars to shame.
Circles were next, and are a band that have been around for a while which I so obliviously managed to keep off my radar until their show supporting Fear Factory last year, and I can say that they were definitely more suited to this support slot than they were last year. Hitting a groove from the moment they played their first notes, the band never looked back and just built from that moment to newer and higher strengths. I’m not sure if it was due to the intensity from their bass player (honestly, if you get the chance watch this guy live – your eyes won’t be able to budge), the vocal harmonies being layered down by their guitarist while absolutely hammering some incredible passages or just the fact that everyone on stage had a role to play and played it perfectly but I just loved this set. Brilliant and difficult to fault, the band definitely left the stage with a few more fans.
By the time Circles had finished the venue had effectively packed out highlighting that every time Periphery comes to Australia their crowds get bigger and bigger. It was always going to be a good performance because watching Periphery on stage is like watching professional athletes – there is very little for you to fault; their performance leaves you with a very wanting taste in your mouth and a desire to go and replicate what you just saw – even when you know you’re going to fail terribly at it – and tonight was no exception.
While their last outing was not the most forgiving stage wise for the band and their gear, the absence of their bassist Adam ‘Nolly’ Getgood and a stage full of Devin Townsend’s gear that hampered their last show in Brisbane gave the band a greater ability to move around, with only Jake Bowen remaining relatively still due to his backing vocal duties. This greater space on stage gave frontman Spencer Sotelo the ability to provide a visual performance for the crowd that complimented his vocal delivery perfectly without compromising any of the tonal heights or screams that fans were expecting from his range and just made him an absolute blast to watch.
With that being said, it was impossible not to be enraptured by the triple guitar attack of Bowen, Misha Mansoor, and Mark Holcomb up on stage. All three showed why they are some of the best guitarists around and exhibited an on-stage comradery that not only lightened the mood of the evening, but added a greater sense of appreciation for what they were able to pull off. Coupling this up with a perfect ability to take the spotlight when required or slink out of it at a moment’s notice, you couldn’t help but appreciate every waking moment you held your eyes on the guitarists. Matt Halpern’s behind the kit was not to be forgotten though with some of the best sounding drums that I have ever heard at Max Watts in the seven years I have been attending gigs there.
A good mix of old and new tracks gave the masses a set list to absolutely froth over, with particular highlights being newer tracks like Marigold, and Grammy-nominated The Price is Wrong that seemed to elicit the greatest crowd response. Coming out of left field and closing with Lune off their latest album created a moment that most of the crowd will remember for some time. With the closing passage being played by band, Sotelo held the entire audience in choir like an orchestral conductor creating a moving and touching conclusion to the night’s proceedings.
Make no doubts about it – Periphery is one of the best live bands in the world at the moment. The ability to harness their incredible sound and amplify that not only through their music but also their live performance is inimitable in this world. If you have the opportunity and the means to catch the band on one of their remaining shows then you need to get out and do so, because by not going you will be missing one of the performances of your lifetime.