27 May 2018
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Gig Review: Devilskin @ Powerstation, Auckland - 21/10/2017

24 Oct 2017 // A review by butch181

The Powerstation was filling up nicely and was looking likely to get pretty close to, if not sold out show. An interesting layout on stage; it looked as though the gear for the later acts was already set up, giving the opening band, His Masters Voice only a few metres along the front of the stage to work with. As Devilskin were choosing local acts to open each show, His Masters Voice had received the opportunity as an Auckland based band, and found themselves setup in a line along the front of the stage.

An interesting configuration for sure, having the drumkit right up front alongside the bass, and lead vocalist, but they didn’t let the minimal space affect them. While they formed only five years ago, they have an abashed professionalism and a strong, solid sound that has an unadulterated 70’s rock sound to it, synonymous with the likes of Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. The backdrop displays the “Devil’s Blues”, and that is a faultless description; the songs are driven by a bass driven rhythm from Brandom Bott, Rene Harvey has a consistent drum method with a lot of 70’s snare-work, and some deep, soothing, and yet powerful vocals from Jesse Sorensen. These guys are no amateurs, and they win the crowd over easily, with thunderous applause, after performing Evil from their latest EP release Woman

Next up were Canadian punk rockers Sumo Cyco, who hail from Hamilton, Ontario, not unlike their headlining counterparts who hail from Hamilton, New Zealand. Their sound is somewhat nostalgic and categorically Canadian-sounding, with that early 2000’s punk sound that came from the likes of Sum 41 and Avril Lavigne. Musically competent, the band have a solid sound that is simple, but full of spunk and energy. Vocally, Skye Sweetnam a.k.a. Sever, has a voice that doesn’t quite fit the genre 100%; while she can hold a note and has good melodies, her voice feels thin at times, especially during the heavier tracks. While lacking meatiness to their tracks, the relentless double kick of the drums still provides an intensity and energy that is backed up by their incredibly energetic stage performance.

If you search Sumo Cyco songs on YouTube, you will find a number of music videos that extend far beyond the six-minute mark, with a lot more effort put into the aesthetics and story of the video. This focus on the visual aspect has clearly been carried into their live performance as Sever bounds from side to side jumping on every surface and channeling her inner “2015 Miley Cyrus”. Entertaining to watch is an understatement, as Matt “MD13” Drake climbs the stack to perform alongside the patrons on the upper balcony, Sever crowd-surfs and runs through the pit to get to the bar for a drink, eventually performing atop Drake's shoulders as he straddles the gap between the stage and the barrier. They have an infectious energy that both captivated and riled up the crowd who largely were unaware of who Sumo Cyco even were. One of the aspects of a band that makes it easier to enjoy them is if you see them getting along themselves; and the chemistry between Drake, Sweetnam, Corke and Trozzi is palpable.

Last up for the night are the headliners Devilskin, for the final leg of their tour with an epic 20 track setlist (including a 3 track encore). With a combination of tracks from We Rise and Be Like The River, they churned out banger after banger. Despite a great visual performance from Nail Vincent, compared to Sumo Cyco’s energetic stunts, Devilskin looked more composed, mature, and slower. However, what Devilskin comparatively lacked in speed, they more than made up for with pure unsullied power. With impressive bass lines from Paul Martin, and Nic Martin’s unyielding double kick, every time there was a drop, you could feel the rumble through the floor and your gut. Vocalist Jennie Skulander was pushing herself, and while she was able to hit the highest notes perfectly, there was a bit of wobble and loss of control in the penultimate notes of her range. Nevertheless, the vocal melodies and throaty vocals were poignant and largely on point, Skulander’s only real difficulty was remaining heard over the top of the crowd that was insistent in trying to drown her out.  

As tends to be the case, instrumentally the music was solid, competent, and consistent with what the fans have come to expect from the band. Many of the usual suspects were all in attendance, with regards to stage props, with a new “meat cleaver” added to the set. Midway through the set, we were treated to a new track called Same Life which was received with deafening applause. A twenty track set list would generally be considered tiresome, but the crowd loved every minute. Devilskin didn’t bleed out the tracks too long, allowing some short audience singalongs but mostly maintained the track lengths of the studio recording, and this kept the audience constantly moving with little opportunity to tire as they were hit by riff after riff. In a surprising twist, they performed their breakout hit Little Pills, before ending their encore with Violation, one of my personal favourites.

Always a modest and humble band, Devilskin remained afterwards for hugs, handshakes, autographs, and photos for any fan that wanted one, staying until the last patron walked out of the venue. It’s no surprise why their fans remain so dedicated.


Review and photos by Alex Moulton

About Devilskin

Devilskin is a four piece band from Hamilton New Zealand formed in June 2010, they already have guts, class, kudos and confidence. The sum total of a determined and accomplished group of musicians who know what they want, the music is organic, dynamic and real.

The band features the spectacular Jennie Skulander on lead vocals. Her powerful and compelling voice and alluring stage presence sets her apart from any vocalist New Zealand has put up so far. With an unerring gift for melody, Jennie's incredible voice sweeps from whisper to roar, rips with power, drips with melody and captivates with sincerity.

Jennie previously fronted Rotorua band Slipping Tongue garnering a swathe of fans with their videos, EPs and album. Slipping Tongue also impressed many when they opened for Coheed & Cambria in 2008.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Devilskin

Releases

Be Like The River
Year: 2016
Type: Album
We Rise
Year: 2014
Type: Album
Live At The Powerstation
Year: 2014
Type: DVD

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