The Ocean Collective Progfest Sideshow, Adelaide, Jan30

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The Ocean Collective Progfest Sideshow, Adelaide,

 

33031150298_916c9abd83_zIt’s been about eighteen months since I last saw the Ocean play live. This is a band with ‘collective’ tagged into the title and across the incarnations there are eighty plus associates. Last time I saw them there was a cellist in two but whatever goes. Before we dive into The Ocean, let’s talk about the supports.

Melbourne band Toehider appeared as a three piece playing all sorts and are eclectic as they are impressive. Guitarist and lead singer Michael Mills is Toehider and has a set of pipes that cover everything from the growl to the wail. It’s impressive. Also he’s not a man who is short on ideas, thinking back to the 12EPs in 12 month project. Putting together a setlist must be a tough one but the crowd was up for it and the whole set was immense. Kudos to the man in the front row with short shorts, Toehider T-shirt and matching sweatbands. You can dance buddy.

Next up were Chaos Divine who have always been a light/dark prog band but on the night produced a set that showed off new material that was decidedly darker. It went down well. What left many bemused, and me wandering through the throng back to the bar, was when the video screen started playing the African savannah complete with a David Attenborough voice over. I’m not sure what was more concerning the fact that the Perth band played Africa by Toto or the fact that the first three rows knew all the words. Great show on the night. ‘Soldiers’ from the Colliding Skies album was the song of the night for me and superb to have them back in town.

Then it’s time for the lottery. We know that The Ocean Collective are going to be immense but who’s in the team and how many are going to be on the stage? What I can tell you is that this band are probably the band to see in this genre. They play a cinematic type of music, like they are scoring a film in their own minds. It is a beautiful landscape that they conjure up but it’s also a brutal assault to all of the senses. It is an all-out attack. The crowd are losing it and three songs in and Loic Rossetti hand the mic to an audience member. The band plays on and he appears on the empty balcony high above the crowd. He climbs over the balcony fence and the mic is passed to him, passed hand to hand and then one on another’s shoulders. He pauses to catch up with the band and then, sitting on the high balcony rail, he sings the next verse. As an audience we have the band behind us playing the soundtrack and the show above us. The verse done, Loic drops the mic, twists and falls backward into the crowd. Eager arms are raised and he is passed back on a sea of hands. The audience clambers over the mic cord and in a tangle of phones, cameras, arms and legs the place erupts. The band goes up and as the song finishes and the place goes nuts. That was a moment where the gig went from Friday night to never forget.

The Ocean are difficult to describe. The label of post-metal is a monumental understatement. It’s art. It’s reflective and contemplative. It’s an aural mugging. Gondwana was the song of the night for me but it is a really tough call. That was one of the gigs that just sticks in the memory. If The Ocean defines progressive metal then it’s in great hands. Roll on next Progfest.

The latest The Ocean album is Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic and we will put up its review next. The great news is that there is an instrumental version and it is sublime!

Reviewer – Craig Grant

The Ocean Collective € Progfest Sideshow, Adelaide, Australia

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