Mastodon, Gojira, Kvelertak Live @ Billboard, Melbourne, Australia

February 28, 2012

I always find shooting multiple acts on a bill to be quite a challenge as by the time the main headliner hits the stage, your energy levels are nearly non-existent and concentration levels begin to wane.

This probably explains why I haven’t dared shoot a festival yet. But soon… soon I will tackle that beast…

Tonight’s bill featured three superb acts as part of the Soundwave Sidewave gigs. Mastodon, Gojira and Kvelertak proved to be a veritable feast of the finest international Metal representing the USA, France and Norway.

The Billboard show tonight was long sold out so I was more than expecting a healthy, rowdy and vocal crowd in full swing.

Upon arriving at the venue a little after 8pm, a dreary overcast and extremely wet and humid Melbourne did not deter a line of people stretching all the way around Billboard and into the lane way behind it from waiting in line to get in. I kinda got a kick by walking straight to the front of the line, flashing some credentials and being let in straight away. Besides, we’re almost on a first name basis with some of the bouncers. We’ve shared many a pit together!

Monday night, three kick ass bands and a sellout crowd champing at the bit to get inside! You gotta love Melbourne!

Norway’s Kvelertak took hold of the stage and I was highly anticipating seeing these guys since discovering their self-titled album last year and proceeding to play it to death for all and sundry. If you haven’t got their debut release and are a fan of either Satyricon or the fabled Turbonegro, then you are missing out. Kvelertak have an uncanny knack of taking the best parts of the aforementioned bands and combining them into this high energy, punk flavoured cacophony that is both raucous and catchy at the same time. You won’t understand a single, solitary lyric as they sing in Norwegian but they are just a phenomenal band and destined to greater things down the pipe. I was absolutely delighted to catch them this early in their career and they were a ton of fun to photograph as well maniacally taking ownership of the Billboard stage and delivering a fast, blistering set to a receptive mouth aghast audience!

Kvelertak (Photo By John Raptis)

Gojira were up next. I can safely say, all that I knew about these guys was that they hail from France and they favour a more technical brand of Metal that some have labelled ‘art-metal’. Take from that what you will. Safe to say, I wasn’t expecting much and I was gonna do my job and photograph them as had been instructed and that would be pretty much it.

From the minute they took to the stage, I was, how they say in the classics… blown away! They sounded phenomenal and so overwhelmingly powerful, intricate and mechanical in their brutality and melody!

A perfect marriage of Metal and technical style. I was too busy making mental notes of ‘dude, go home and listen to their entire fucking discography ‘cos these guys are something to behold’. I loved them. Everything about them just wrapped itself in the sinews of my mind.

This is a band I will enjoy discovering aurally for the first time. Now I sure as hell know what the fuss is about!

Photographically, they were hard to shoot. The ever-present white floodlights from behind made for an overwhelmingly bright lit stage and a lot of my shots failed me tonight but you do what you gotta do and I did manage a couple of decent shots of the lads.

This was the second time I had seen Mastodon in their sky-rocketing career thus far. I saw them open for Slayer a few years ago here in Melbourne and I found them a little disappointing that night owing to a woeful mix. I knew they were much better than that and I do consider myself a fan of the band having bought every one of their releases on debut.

Mastodon (Photo By John Raptis)

By the time the band hit the stage, the photo-pit was the busiest I have ever been a part of. It seemed like there were 20 photographers present so it was extremely hard to move from end to end. With a three song limit, I planned to shoot stage-left for one song, centre-stage for the next and stage-right for the last. That way I could get as many angles as possible.

Mastodon are a unique band. No one really sounds like them and they pull out some amazingly crafted riffs and lyrics with melodies that are so out-of-this world and original. They are almost hauntingly beautiful in one instance and in the next they have their collective heel pressing against your neck as they slit your throat with raw power, energy and all-out Heavy Fuckn Metal! Their new album, ‘The Hunter’ is their best yet and it was great to hear it feature so prominently tonight. I enjoyed every single second of them tonight and have come to the realisation that they have indeed, kicked it up a notch and are now mixing it up with the big boys of Metal. Scary to think that they are only going to get bigger and better.

All in all, an amazing night of some of the finest in the Metal genre! Great bands! Great venue! An even better crowd and a totally classic gig!

Mastodon, Gojira, Kvelertak Live @ Billboard, Melbourne, Australia

Metal Obsession
Thank you to the gang from Metal Obsession for the passes tonight! Always a pleasure shooting for you!

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