“Slum Wizard” Album Launch
Transit Bar Canberra (28 July 2017)
Photo credits left to right: Ben Caluzzi, Sophia Photography, Ben Caluzzi, Andrew Brown (we think).
Hallucinatorium are a local Canberra four piece stoner act tuned down to produce an impossibly deep drone. Contrast this with the almost jazz like vocal of Jess High and you’ve got the makings of a pretty interesting sound. Bass player Charlie Bradshaw shares some of the vocal duties and the complementary styles play off each other nicely. High’s presence in particular brings something to the band that a lot of stoner acts seem to lack. It’s a sense of showmanship, an instinct for what the music needs visually to bring it home. As a band they’re clearly still developing their stagecraft and there is a sense that with some time things might tighten up. Sonically though, the individual elements are outstanding. Duncan Stuart’s guitar work is exemplary, finding that subterranean pitch to shake the building’s foundations. The gap is in their ability to function as a unit. In this case it sometimes felt like some very talented musicians playing separate shows on the same stage. Hallucinatorium are, however, in my view, an act to watch.
There were three other acts on the bill, first being Marlon Bando. They are a three piece punk act, also clearly in the very early stages of their development. Their sound is all feedback and aggression and their onstage personae owe a lot to the early frenetic stylings of Nirvana. The absence of a bass player makes for a unique sound. As a band they have a long way to go, but their might be a spark of something there.
Next up were Wesley and the Crushers, with a somewhat more crowdpleasing sound. Their frontman seemed to be rocking some vaudevillian, pantomime version of a Dickensian villain which hadn’t quite been refined yet. Vocally, there was not a lot of depth, but there was some warmth to singer Phizz Calligeros’ tone. Lead guitarist Goo Calligeros was, without doubt, the most talented musician to grace the stage all night. His sense of riffage was extraordinary and the tone he managed to extract created something pretty fucking special. Some squealing lead breaks combined with 60s style psych-blues influence, particularly on their final track created a spacey jam that could’ve come straight out of ’68. Again, the band’s stagecraft leaves a bit to be desired but there is a solid foundation. Doing 80 in a 60 zone is probably the highlight of the set and they are another band I’d like to see develop their show.
Final support came from three piece doom/sludge act Monoceros, a band whose last jaunt at Transit was as part of the Doomsday fest with Witchskull and Acid King. Tonight maybe lacked some of the coherence of their previous performances, but some deeply discordant moments spliced in with stoner drone make for an unsettling set. If their aim was to challenge their audience I suspect for the most part they succeeded. By the end of the show things tightened up to where Monoceros produced a near-perfect mesmerising aural doominess.
Tonight feels like an insight into the development of the next generation of the genre, still finding its feet but ultimately full of promise and keeping metal relevant.