Doomsday Festival - ANU Bar, Canberra 13/10/12

A surprise home win - but where was the crowd to witness it?


When the ANU Bar is full, and the bands are rocking, there are few venues in Canberra that can touch it’s mixture of iconic historical status and intimate small club atmosphere. When it’s empty, however, you can risk having your soul destroyed simply by entering the joint. And tonight, on a typical Canberra Saturday night, circumstances have tipped the scales in favour of the latter scenario.

Blame it on anything you like – the threatening weather, a Rugby League international on the telly, the lack of anything resembling decent advertising, a combination of all three perhaps – but the turnout tonight when Metal as Fuck arrives on site is woeful, with what can only be described as a handful of punters being on hand to witness an interesting amuse-bouche from Looking Glass alumnus Marcus De Pasquale. As it goes De Pasquale turns in the most interesting set of the night, purely because it’s not a set comprised entirely of heavy doom. His fleet fingered acoustic offerings set the ears up nicely for what’s to come, but we can’t say it enough – it’s a tragedy there weren’t more folk on hand to soak up the man’s undeniable talent.

That’s not to say the rest of the evenings’s entertainment was dull – far from it. However programming a set of bands all bent on giving us their take on the doom template (the clue is in the name of the festival, ladeez an’ gentz, and not since emceeing at the ‘Boorish Englishmen Loving the Sound of Their Own Voices’ evening in Warracknabeal a couple of years ago have I witnessed a group of artists so hell bent on doing what it says on the tin) does lend itself to a certain amount of ear fatigue as the evening wears on, even though every band commendably give everything they have to those dedicated enough to have turned up.

So, this saminess may be a bit problematic, but its happiness incarnate we are to report that, on the night, Canberra’s own Law of the Tongue are first amongst equals. Their muscular brand of sludge, stoner and doom cuts through the room like a baseball bat through the face of an over-tenacious shopkeeper defending his week’s takings, the effect on our ears being somewhat more pleasing than on that man’s features it has to be said. It’s still early days comparatively for this mob, but initial findings say that Brad, DD, Kim and Ben have a bright future ahead of them. Not to say a loud one.

Sadly space prevents us from looking too closely into the rest of the underbill, save to mention that Fattura Della Morte, despite the unsettlingly hipsterish ginger beard/check shirt juxtaposition of singer Benny, almost rival the local heroes  in terms of sheer unforgiving heaviness; But it’s getting late, gratifyingly a few more dishevelled beards have found their way to the venue (though not, it seems, to the merch stand, which remains deserted all night despite some tasty looking shirts from the headliners retailing to you, squire, at just fifteen dollars.), and it’s time for those healiners I just mentioned: The Atomic Bitchwax.

It’s easy to dismiss TAB as another of those hipster prog metal bands that seem to be everywhere you look these days, even though they predate the likes of Mastodon et all by the best part of a decade, and they are certainly the most accessible band on offer to any untrained ears that might have wandered in by mistake this evening, despite sensibly concentrating on the heavier end of their oeuvre. But they always deliver- especially live - tonight being no different, and it’s a happy bunch of doomsters that make their way home at the end of the band’s set and indeed, Doomsday 2012.