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Primacy - Gig Review: Primacy @ Ding Dong Lounge, Auckland - 27/02/2021

28 Feb 2021 // Review by Kev Rowland

Saturday at the Ding Dong is always guaranteed to be a good night, and tonight was to be no exception with Primacy finally launching their album Seeds of Change. I say “finally” as previous gigs had been cancelled due to lockdown, and in fact this was going to be their first gig since 2019! The common consensus in the band is that it is all the fault of Rhys Saran who put the word “lockdown” into lyrics long before COVID 19 had been heard of.

But first up tonight we had The First Child, a band I had been waiting to see again, as the last time I saw them it really was not a fair indication as for some reason all the microphones stopped working quite quickly during their set, and although singer Lily Mou gave his all, with a hardcore punk band behind him there was no way we could hear the vocals. I met up with him before the gig and the first thing he told me was that all the microphones were working tonight! They were also using a stand-in bassist as their normal bass player was unavailable, but one would never have guessed that he had only rehearsed with the band during the last two weeks as he fitted in really well. The First Child are all about emotion and passion, and while there are links to the pop punk of the likes of Blink 182, they are generally more feral and aggressive, playing pop punk hardcore with a metallic edge. One thing I noticed is the way Lily paces himself and does not go for it at full bore all the time, which means he has the opportunity to rest his voice somewhat and produce different styles. Quaker was the highlight, where Lily even brought in falsetto, where there was very strong interplay and riffing between the guitars, and the bass firmly locked in. They are very good indeed at what they do, and certainly warmed up the crowd.

I was talking to guitarists Alex Carleton and Bryce Patten from Downfall Of Humanity prior to their set, and I knew that tonight they were going to be playing a cover, namely SOAD’s Toxicity. I told them it was one of my favourite songs and I was looking forward to hearing it, and Alex told me later in the night this had done absolutely nothing to settle his nerves whatsoever! But, if there were any nerves on stage tonight, the guys did not show it at all. This was my first experience of DOH, and had not heard any of their material, but barman James was raving to me about them and how good they were the last time they played there. Given that the guys who work the bar at Ding Dong get to hear far more music than a regular punter, that was high praise indeed, and based on what I saw last night I certainly concur. The rhythm section is incredibly tight and locked down, which allows the two guitarists to really shine, swapping leads and support as the need arises. While System of a Down are an obvious influence, they are bringing in influences from different areas, something which is readily apparent in the vocals. Singer Daniel Carleton not only is a commanding and forceful presence on stage, but he has an incredibly powerful and emotional baritone, which he uses to great effect when the time is right, yet he also goes incredibly harsh and provides death growls. With both guitarists and drummer Ben Bakker also providing vocals (the line-up is completed by bassist Ben Pegman), combining this with complex riffs and passages, there is a lot to take in.

They mix and move through different metal genres, so just when one thinks there is some mathcore it switches into power metal, before hitting some technical death strides. This is one of the real joys of their music for me, the way they have refused to sit just within one sub-genre and go where they feel the music is taking them. I have often said it is hard to pigeonhole music, as music is not a pigeon, and while someone could say that Downfall of Humanity are a Metal band, they are covering a whole range of styles within that. Their version of Toxicity was very good indeed, but interestingly it did not stand out from the rest of the material within the set, which shows the level at which they are operating. The crowd were now really buzzing with loads of metalheads down the front, and I was certainly disappointed when their set came to an end. Apparently, they were supposed to be back in the studio this week working on the EP, having had studio sessions cancelled in the past due to lockdown, and they were not happy that it had just happened again, but when that finally appears it is something which will be well worth hearing indeed.

Primacy have been waiting for this gig for way too long, but if one thought they would be nervous about playing their first show in nearly 18 months it certainly did not show. When I reviewed the album, I said it was “something which really grooves along yet is always heavy and manages to hit that sweet spot between out and out aggression and commerciality”, but what I had not picked up on was just how much this band is driven from the back. Will Stairmand attacks his kit like a man possessed, yet is always in full control, combining with Sadeer Kattan to create an incredibly powerful and stable rhythm section. While both Primacy and DOH have twin guitars, their approaches are quite different with Primacy much more of an alternative metal band, creating slabs of riffs as opposed to tremendous intricacy. I must make a special mention of guitarist Adrian Brausch, as it is way too long since I saw a Flying V on stage, and just the sight of it made me smile even before he struck a note, while on the other side was Jared Tobin who played with a smile on his face all night as he was having a blast. Rhys Saran is both vocally and visually quite different to Daniel, yet he also very much remains the focal point, sometimes just standing straight and staring into the crowd, and others really moving and getting into the sound. There is a huge underlying groove to everything they do, and the crowd were by now incredibly animated. One can understand why they and DOH have gigged together so much in the past, as while they are very different in their musical approach, they have complementary styles, and both really get the crowd going.

When they upped the tempo during the set on Ten Years, the crowd reacted with them, and it was certainly when they ripped it up that the crowd got even more animated. But they also fully understand the need for dynamics and Shade Black showed a very different style to the band with Adrian creating a soundscape for a song which was a real builder. They actually finished their set right on the allotted time, which was a real first for me at Ding Dong, and Will was taking the cymbals off as soon as it was over. However, the crowd were not going to let that happen and shouted for more, which led to some consternation with the band who obviously were not expecting it. Ryan asked soundman Dave if they could do one more, Will was convinced to put the cymbals back on, and they ended the night with yet another belter.

Let us hope this lockdown does not last too long and that we can again get back to near normality, as yet again tonight Ding Dong hosted some great bands which I look forward to catching again when this is all over.


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