REVIEW: Dead Letter Circus, Fair To Midland, Twelve Foot Ninja

Words by David Young

Check out our photo gallery from the show.

Melbourne five-piece Twelve Foot Ninja are not fans of pigeon-holes when it comes to their music. As a matter of fact, were any of those feathered fiends to even attempt to work their way into a narrow genre hole, the band would probably bite its head off. With just as many sidesteps into flamenco territory as there was departures into industrial-synth churning, it’s safe to say that there was nary a dull moment within their brief yet hugely intriguing set. Although a sizable crowd had gathered to see what the band had to offer, the room packed out even more by the time American visitors Fair to Midland took to the stage. The Texan prog-rockers had a slew of excited punters that had turned up just to see them, and said punters were not left disappointed. Although vocalist Darroh Sudderth was somewhat restrained (having just dislocated his finger at a Melbourne show), he still oozed energy and quickly sweated up a storm, zig-zagging in-between his fellow bandmates. A highlight was “Dance of the Manatee,” which finally managed to drag the indifferent punters over the line and the diehards up the front right into some sort of paradise, with endless whipping of long hair and booming singalongs. The Yanks are alright, says Wollongong.

The fact that Dead Letter Circus are at a point in their still-young career that they can comfortably fill out most medium-to-large rooms in the country is one thing. The fact they bring themselves back to relatively intimate surrounds such as The Patch is another thing entirely. It suggests they still have a strong bond with their fanbase and wish to maintain it through these sweaty, high-octane shows – if only to prove that they’re not above playing a raucous regional pub. Interestingly, they still played with all the professionalism one has come to expect from the band since the release of This is the Warning – which certainly isn’t to say that it was contrived or routine. Rather, it exuded confidence and a strength in performance that can only come with years of experience.

The staples all flew by like a highlight reel – “Big,” “Disconnect and Apply,” “The Mile,” “Lines” etc. – and yet it never came across as forced or lacking in energy. Despite some of these songs being a part of the band since its inception, there’s still such a joy of hearing an en-masse refrain of “Take away these lines” or “See you at work on Monday” with all the enthusiasm and excitement that came the first time you screamed along to it. A new track, “Wake Up,” also showcased a much more expansive and heavy sound that is set to be on their upcoming sophomore album. Only time will really tell if the bigger sound necessarily equates to being a better one.

As “Next in Line” wrapped things up, one couldn’t help but appreciate how far Dead Letter Circus have come – bringing out international supports, selling out shows and so on – and yet how far they still may go. This is the Warning and its subsequent supporting tours asserted DLC’s dominance atop of the current breed of Australian heavy rock. As long as they keep up performances with the quality of tonight’s, they’ll have nothing to worry about.

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