23 Sep 2018
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Devilskin - Gig Review: Devilskin @ Altitude, Hamilton

14 Sep 2018 // A review by Alex Moulton

Two hours before the doors officially opened, fans were lining up outside of Hamilton’s Altitude Bar. Some already waiting for the 8pm doors opening, but most there for the VIP experience; getting into the venue early and receiving VIP lanyards, posters and a meet and greet with the band. The GA punters patiently lined up outside in the bitter wind as they awaited their chance to enter. Eventually, 8pm came around and the doors opened to a flood of fans that headed straight for the merchandise stand before moving upstairs to the front of stage.

The medium size stage looked packed with equipment, having two full drum kits and several other drum additions, alongside a great gathering of amps and lighting equipment. The crowd quickly noticed the large right-angled diamonds attached to the lighting rigs, and the gas cylinders to the side of stage. Needless to say, anticipation was high.

First act for the night came from Auckland rock four-piece Coridian. A staple of North Island rock tours in the last year, they are consistently expanding their fan base with every performance. Kicking off the final weekend of the 2018 Devilskin NZ Tour, they jumped straight into Nonetheless. Exhibiting the energy that they have become known for, vocalist Dity Maharaj was jumping and kicking his way around the stage, having no issue with the cramped space that they were working with. Vocal melodies on point, Dity hit the high notes and held the long notes superbly, and the audience ate it all up. Nearly a full year since the release of their last EP Caldera, Coridian have been working on new material and half of their set consisted of these newer tracks. Dunes, Better Off, Good For Nothing, and Seed Pt 2. The new tracks showcasing a boost in confidence in the musicians, especially in the case of drummer Kris Raven, with some vibrant drum rolls in Dunes, and some high impact tom work in Good For Nothing.

With the exception of guitarist Mike Raven accidentally unplugging himself during a track, the set went off without a hitch, and a multitude of people that were strangers to Coridian were converted to fans before my eyes. Even with the tracks already released, it’s encouraging to hear changes to the tracks and additional embellishments in the guitar riffs and such. Coridian are always looking to improve; it’s one of the characteristics of the band that will take them far if they persist.

Written By Wolves were the final supporting act for the night, and as someone that has seen their act multiple times, there were two concerns. Firstly, Written By Wolves aren’t necessarily the heaviest band, generally situated more towards the electronic side of the rock spectrum. Secondly, Written By Wolves have always had rather flamboyant lighting displays and other highly visual aspects to their sets, which would likely be missing as they are not the headline act. That being said, the crowd were in a great mood, and more than happy to give the benefit of the doubt to any band that is deemed appropriate enough to join Devilskin for the entirety of the tour.

As the lights faded to black, Davie Wong, Bahador Borhani, Karl Woodhams, and Oli Lyons took up their positions on stage and started their dueling drums intro. Always an impressive spectacle to watch, they work in unison and create a technically intricate display that has a strong impact on the audience. As vocalist Michael Murphy enters the stage and starts ripping into Not Afraid To Die, a female portion of the crowd at the front of stage erupted into squeals and screams as he leaned over to get close to the audience. One of the most lively bands in New Zealand at the moment, Written By Wolves are not content to pogo dance themselves, they spend their whole set trying to get the crowd joining in, and from while initially hesitant, by the end of their 2018 single Follow Me, much of the crowd is head banging, jumping up and down, and clapping along.

Behind the drum kit was the large central diamond screen with “written by wolves” emblazoned across it, but the remaining 4 small screens remained dark, and the gas cannons stayed silent throughout the set. Even without their usual visual aids, they performed a high-energy set that had many metalheads moving to the rhythm. Their set consisted of eight songs (same as the first act Coridian), and they played a selection of new, old and covers, pulling out their mini-track tribute to Chester Bennington with One Step Closer, and pulling out their new single Oxygen. A solid performance that has no negative aspects worth writing home about. The visual aspects were not needed for a great performance, and they proved their adaptability to the audience, choosing to end their set with a cover song to bridge their set and Devilskin’s. Not by ending with their biggest hit as most bands would do, instead choosing to play Metallica’s Master Of Puppets. Not surprisingly, the crowd went nuts, and were nearly out-singing Michael on the mic.

After a changeover of gear, Devilskin took to the stage and let slip the dogs of war. The bass reverberated through the venue as Paul Martin brandished his bass at the front of stage, Nic Martin stood arms outstretched, silhouetted against the screen behind him, and Nail Vincent stood stoically opposing Martin on the other side of the stage. The crowd erupted into cheers as vocalist Jennie Skulander took to the stage and started to sing Limbs. Starting their 17-song set, the band looked rested and eager, and Jennie showed no signs of and signs of sickness that was plaguing her pre-tour.

The crowd jostled and attempted to create mosh pits with every song, with the central portion spinning around during Elvis Presley Circle Pit. All five of the screens that surrounded the stage would switch from image to image, cycling footage, and logos. Very effective at creating a visually interesting show, since the venue lacked any form of front lighting. The imagery was well-coordinated with such examples are displaying the Street Team logo during Voices, the “Little Devils” Street Team anthem. Performing a mix of hits from both We Rise and Be Like The River albums, as well as showcasing a few new tracks. A crowd favourite of the new tracks would be the latest single Endo, which has a strong Mars Volta/At The Drive-In influence.

Jennie’s vocal performances are improving with each consequent tour, holding notes for ever-increasing lengths of time, and hitting higher and high notes expanding her range. Throughout the set, the energy never dissipated; while the crowd slowed and rested during the slower tracks like Fade, they got straight back into it in the next track. The excitement and vitality never dropped, and even increased as they came towards the latter end of the set, rarking up with Dirt and Start A Revolution. The lights dimmed, and the band didn’t even get a chance to leave the stage before the crowd began chanting for an encore, and is to be expected, Devilskin obliged. Cranking out an additional 3 tracks in the encore, they performed arguably their most popular radio-unfriendly tracks Vessel and Violation, before closing the night off with Little Pills and a “selfie” with the crowd.


Review written by Alex Moulton.
Photos courtesy of Alex Moulton and Chris Morgan.

 

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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