Meshuggah, Devin Townsend Project, Dredg at The Factory, Sydney 28/2/12

Devin Townsend, Meshuggah and Dredg brought balls to the burbs last night in a storming Soundwave sideshow.

My ears are still ringing as I write this, so you know it’s been a good one. Sadly I missed most of Dredg. Friends and beer, always very key components of any gig, contrived to delay proceedings and I only caught the end of their set. It’s a shame, because they have a great sound and from what I did see they’re tight as a gnat’s chuff on stage and it looked to have been a good set, if the crowd reaction was anything to go by.

This was my first visit to The Factory in Marrickville. I was dubious of a new venue, but hopeful, and I wasn’t disappointed. The sound was outstanding, from a brand new PA. There’s a bar downstairs and a bar at the back of the room, which is always a good sign. With a capacity of around a thousand, it’s a decent size without being a barn, and by the end of the Dredg set it must have been close to full.

While we waited for Devin, a video started playing up behind the stage. Ziltoid TV! Great clips from the net interspersed with Ziltoid himself in classic handpuppet form made for a very entertaining half-hour of cutesy, crazy, madcappery between bands. Then the Devin Townsend Project hit the stage.

I’m a total fanboy for Hevy Devy, and don’t mind admitting it, so I was hoping for good things. And I got them. They opened with Truth from Infinity and set an immediate vibe. The sound was massive and I became a solid fan of The Factory as a venue. I hope they keep it up.

The set covered a massive amount of the DTP discography after Truth, including Deadhead from Accelerated Evolution, then By Your Command from Ziltoid, as demanded from the video screen. Tracks from Deconstruction featured heavily and they finished with Vampira from Synchestra. It was a powerful and entertaining showcase of everything the Devin Townsend Project have to offer.

The video-matching and Ziltoid TV throughout was incredible. At one point Dev was singing perfectly in sync with himself on the screen. It was a show in the full sense of the word and the only complaint I have about it is that it was over too fucking soon! Oh, and he didn’t play Ki, but that’s just a personal thing.

So how do you follow that? Well, what about the 8-string detuned guitar slaying of Swedish metal monsters, Meshuggah? As I understand it, Dev and Meshuggah are alternating the headlining spots for these sideshows, and I wondered how it would go with the bands in that order. I had a feeling that more people would be there for Dev and that seemed to be true when the crowd was visibly thinner as Mehuggah took the stage. That was at least in part because Devin was signing stuff right outside and the line was down the stairs and across the bar! I did enjoy one moment of that before I went back inside, when Dev was asked to sign a dude’s chest. Equal opportunities for all. Dev was graceful in acquiescence.

Meshuggah frontman, Jens Kidman, seemed a bit pissed off as he took the stage, presumably from the thinned crowd. He gestured for the people to buck up a bit and they gamely cheered and threw some horns his way. But all it took was the opening riffs of Rational Gaze from Nothing and the crowd was on board.

Seriously, is there a band out there with a deeper, heavier guitar tone than Meshuggah? Don’t write in, that’s a rhetorical question. The volume in the venue kept going up and the band went on into Pravus from ObZen and our bones began to turn to calcium paste from the low frequency awesomeness of it all.

Meshuggah played a bit across their released work as well, but mainly stayed with ObZen, also playing Bleed and Lethargica. I’ve been getting a listen to the new one, Koloss, (due out in March, which another fine writer here will review for you) and it’s a shame they didn’t play anything from that. (At least, I’m pretty sure they didn’t – my brain was a pulped mess by this point of the evening, so I could be wrong!)

Meshuggah are as tight as you’d expect from such veterans of the scene, and it topped off a night of three bands who really deserve their reputations. All three are right on top of their game and put on a fantastic show. I would happily go and watch that same gig again tonight. And tomorrow night. Fuck it, I’d happily experience a night like that any chance I get.

If I have any complaint, it’s only that Meshuggah playing after Devin Townsend Project had a detrimental effect on crowd numbers and that shifted the vibe just a bit. Egos aside, I reckon the gig would work better the other way around, though in some ways it’s hard to imagine anything following the slung under sheer heaviness of the ‘Shug. But if anyone could do it, it’s Hevy Devy, right? However you look at it, a stellar night.