Dark Mofo 2022 review. Behold the Darkness, for it is great!!. Kim Gordon, Borderlands 1, Triumph of Death, Spiritualized and Cate Le Bon.

 

Dark Mofo 2022 review. Behold the Darkness, for it is great!!. Kim Gordon, Borderlands 1, Triumph of Death, Spiritualized and Cate Le Bon.

Well, what a joy to be back at Australia's best arts/music festival. Did it deliver? of course in bucketloads and was everything perfect; well just like in life; no!. But if you particularly take away the shackles of the last few years with COVID-19/lockdowns/homeschooling etc; it was a great break from normality. The crew at Dark Mofo are very much dedicated to running professional events and giving you way more than you expect. I was at this festival for four days and loved it. 

Night 1-Borderlands 1 and Triumph of Death(at Hymns to the Dead)

Borderlands 1

This writer is a huge fan of weird arse music, noise and quirky electronica as well as being an utter metalhead/hardcore punk devotee. Borderlands always is that perfectly uncanny mix of art meets audio. Mac 2 is a huge room/venue and the sound system seems more suited to the style of electronica or arty music than traditional band fare. Just as in previous years, it is always a race for time on the first night-taking time to stuff your face at the glorious cuisine of the Winter Feast and go to your first event.

I missed the first two performers but came just in time to hear/see/feel Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, an artist that is not genre definable-he utilises vocal and modular synths to create looped and warped electronic music, which is composed almost like an improv; but with intelligent placement of everything. He warms you and confuses you with rhythmic twists of synth leads and vocal melancholia. It all seems emotive, tranquil and creative as hell, this was one where he utilised a plant as a midi source; no seriously and it was as cosmic sounding as expected. He really is a wizard and if you haven't explored his works I implore you to. He is also a huge fan of hardcore punk and its tangents as well as playing in punk/alternative acts. The raucous approach does seem super chaotic, yet well structured and constructed. This like all the acts on this particular night had incredible light installations/ video work that really added to the event, the colours and twists and turns via a background video made for the perfect collaboration for the attendee. 

Next up was Kim Gordon and her highly skilled band mates-just guitar x2 and bass plus tons of pedals for looping and effects and a film was running during their magnificent set; but I haven't been unable to locate the details, unfortunately. Kim and her bands were on red hot form with the delivery of wild offbeat feedback, and distortion and this is definitely a throwback to Kim's early noise beginnings. This was arty, wild and mesmerizing. So much joy was generated from a three-piece intent of messing with all your senses. This set and their performance justify a full album of this work. This was a great early highlight of my stay at Dark Mofo 22. 




Vladislav Delay is a hard-edged and deeply experimental electronica artist with bite. The music is exceptionally hard to categorise but definitely dips in and out of ambient, minimalist techno, dub and high tempo distortion-based glitchy noise. This set pummels as hard as the harshest death metal and blew my mind, even though I am familiar with some of these more well-known releases. 



This was lovingly parred with the visual artist AGF who creates audio sculptures; yes what a concept and I encourage you to check her work out-it was warped and coded visuals that not only matched the music but went on a glorious tangent. The set went from grim ambient rest periods to hellish noise-focused techno. I could have watched this set for another 2 hours, avant-garde magic in the form of electronica. Borderlands always set very high standards each year and this is delivered in every way. I was blown away by this magnificent showcase of finely curated majestic art.

(Photo Credits: for Borderlands 1-Remi Chauvin (also the Burning Owl pic at the start of this review)

Hymns To The Dead, well Triumph Of Death.


(Photo Credit: Jason Vassallo)


As I was previously at the Borderlands 1 event, I raced over to see the mighty Triumph of Death.
This is Tom G. Warrior's Hellhammer tribute band. And fuck me, this band didn't disappoint. The band is tight as hell, all amazing players and even though they have only played like ten or so gigs this is a pinpoint accurate professional performance of the highest standards. Man, it was so solid from start to end and was metal as fuck. The Odeon is definitely Hobart's best rock venue it has killer sound and every position even upstairs is top class.


(Photo Credit: Jason Vassallo)

 The band delivered 10-11 tracks consisting of Hellhammer and one early Celtic Frost song. It was quite the dream to imagine ever seeing these songs live and Tom's vocals were on point and strong as hell. Highlights were-Massacra, Messiah, Aggressor and Triumph Of Death. My friends and I had a laugh trying to pick which tracks were more Motorheadish or did this band influence them; who knows. But this was so much more than a cover band debacle; this was the songs performed properly and in the true spirit of metal. If you missed this gig, shame on you.

Night 2

Spiritualized


(Photo Credit: Remi Chauvin)

Well, it was back to the very widespread space that is Mac 2 and it was time for J.Spaceman to deliver his tripped-out sermons. This was a full stage lineup, including backup singers and Jason as he has done for the last few years performed seated from a chair(weird vibe, but he still provides total entertainment, despite zero crowd acknowledgement or chat). Hey Jane was a cracking opener, particularly as it was loud as hell and turned into a wigged out/freaky riff-fest at the end. Impressive and epic. The rest of the set was a solid mix of the last three albums with a few classics from the other albums. Most importantly we got Come Together from Ladies and Gentleman... and that was all I wanted(well ok maybe a few more from that, but fuck that purist rant). The set worked effectively, but Sail on Through did drag somewhat tbh. But that's being fussy, the band has obviously performed so many times that the delivery is flawless and crisp. This is an epic band to chill to and more of an experience that an engaging performance. I have always wanted to see this band and I must say I was impressed. Other tracks that stood out were: Shine a Light which was as blissful as the recorded version of this classic, Damaged was absolute magic and proves that the newer tracks are as epic as the older gems. The Morning After is a dynamic track that sounds as old as hell but delivers all the skillsets of this great artist.
This gig was one emotive experience and a wicked way to chill out on day Two of this festival.

Post gig me and some friends hit up the Evolve whiskey bar at Macq 01 Hotel nearby, highly recommend that place for a post-gig drink and experience.

Night 3


Kim Gordon

Nice to be back at the Odeon Theatre, particularly as it was a 5-minute walk from my hotel.
I was well-rested after some sightseeing and a nap and made the wise choice of choosing Kim Gordon over a huge metal event; for many reasons. The biggest is that, despite being a late bloomer to the legendary Sonic Youth, I have always dug her vocals and her whole dedication to her craft. And she is so fucking multitalented; if you are not convinced watch her videos on various subjects such as painting, no-wave music or fashion. She is an icon in so many spheres for a fucking reason. And her many musical collaborations have been excellent as well as the exquisite solo record from 2019, No Home Record which is as wide-berthed and intriguing as her previous band's works. It is a sharp, clever and rocking beast of an album and I so wanted to see its translation live. 

(Photo Credit Jesse Hunniford )

Kim has a sensational band and two of those members played for Kim's noise set on Thursday. Add an equally competent drummer for this gig and you have a tight as hell and mesmerizing band. The set consisted of the whole debut album, plus a new track and one cover. There was a background video of a vehicle travelling thru suburban America and it was like every part of this gig worked so well. This stunning performance was a perfect mix of art, post-punk, groove, no wave and riffs. Each band member vibes off each other the whole show and Kim is an amazing performer walking that classic line between sex symbol, angry artist and accomplished muso. The set, just like the album steps into many genres and this eclectic mix works stunning as a live performance. Her vocals were magic and there is a definite aim to entertain as the band just seem genuine and purposeful. Highlights were: Air B'nB-just a raucous tune that is an instant earworm, Murdered Out which is a seismic mix of post-punk and industrial vibes, Get Yr Life Back which drips art cool and the new track Grass Jeans which was a magnificent closing track. 

I really look forward to seeing this band again and think that Dark Mofo if time permitted and she was agreeable, she would have been an immaculate guest for a Q and A on all things Sonic Youth, art and otherwise. A missed opportunity I think. But alas, I saw her perform two incredible sets at the festival and that is solid gold!.

Night 4 


Cate Le Bon

This was a lovely mid-afternoon gig at the Odeon Theatre, upstairs and seated in the same seat as the previous day as luck would have it. Cate Le Bon is a welsh indie gem that has six killer albums and mixes the quirky with the melodic and harmonious. This was a lengthy set of 16 songs with the focus on both the Pompeii and Reward albums; so you got lovely indie tracks mixed with post-punk and also the esoteric 80's niche style (but in a great way as shown on the new fantastic album). 

Cate (like Kim Gordon) has a superb band playing with her. And how it shows as opposed to a random bunch of musos simply doing a job. This band was dynamic and the smooth flow was a treat to witness. Dirt on the Bed is a stunning way to open a set; with a brooding and subtle tone that is so entrancing. Then it's full-on cheese and sleaze of the groovy French Boys and already you realise this gig is going to be a dazzling one. Then you just have so many highlights; Moderation was sublime and as perfect as the recorded version, Daylight Matters and Pompeii are two very different songs that both showcase the vocal masterclass of Cate. Running Away and Cry Me Old Trouble just drip in all the glory of 80's vivid excess. But Cate never relies on gimmicky tangents, every track is worthwhile and thoroughly genuine. My faves were played: the punky genius of Mother's Mother's Magazines and equally off-the-wall Magnificent Gestures, the Bowie-styled poptastic gem of Harbour, and the offbeat prized prizes that are The Light and Home to You. And of course, the brilliant closer Are You With Me Now?. The music is remarkable, her vocals are stunning and the live show was awe-inspiring.


                                  (Photo Credit for both Pics-Jesse Hunniford)

Frankly, an amazing performance and you really need to see Cate Le Bon live at any opportunity!
This was lively, intelligent and entertaining as hell. Fantastic to see the albums represented so well on the stage. Sublime gig!!!.

Other thoughts/Musings:

-the sickening sea of people regularly filming stuff really was a huge difference to the festival compared to 2 years ago, whilst impossible to police-some signs or social media posts discouraging people to take endless video/photo footage and enjoy the show would be a bonus. This was a huge change in vibe, I mean FFS The Burning was an incredible and emotive experience, but people were more focused on filming the event...WTF???

-more Q and A type events with key artists, this would be amazing with the right hosts and venue

-Winterfeast is amazing, but some of the prices are a bit OTT; but I understand the context of price rises post-Covid 19 pandemic

-bring back the wild walks in the dark type events, I miss these

-the live music events at MONA were a huge bonus

-the sheer variety of acts and total dedication to proper artist curation is so strong and this maintains the ethos and focus of Dark Mofo. This warms my heart!!

-Dark Mofo needs more punk and industrial bands next year!!!

Cannot wait for Dark Mofo 2023!.








            




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