COG leaves Byron Bay hot and sweaty
It was a warm and balmy night in Byron Bay as the sounds of buskers and early evening diners poured out onto the busy streets.
The town was abuzz watched over by majestic palm trees while the salty coastal breeze was just able to snake its way into the vibrant alleys filled with the smells of cooking food.
With a sold out crowd at The Northern things were looking good for a killer vibe for COG's Byron Bay gig and sure enough as the hour approached more and more Cog shirts could be seen on Johnston Street near the pub.
The Back Room at the Northern is a fantastic venue that has played host to some of the best acts around and as punters filed into the space a classic rock tune was playing over the speakers.
And in a sudden start Osaka Punch were on stage and playing.
With little fanfare they had jumped out on stage and started their set, with the crowd quickly moving forward to the front showing their familiarity with the songs and the band themselves.
Jack Muzak was sporting a gold sequin jacket and you could just tell the show was going to be different.
The bands heavy grooves and smooth pop sensibilities were immediately evident and drummer Dane quickly became someone to watch as he navigated intricate grooves like a ninja assassin moving through a laser minefield on floor twenty of Mafia bosses secret lair.
Reggie and Chrispy pretty much took centre stage for the first four songs primarily for their biceps and hair as much as for their progressive, syncopated groove melodies that drove each song forward.
Jack quickly stole back the limelight as he ran between centre stage and his keyboards, and the set took on a mix between a very charismatic comedy routine mixed with zaney one liners and tongue in-cheek references to songs and stage antics, while at the same time performing some face melting musicianship.
It is no wonder the band cites Meshuggah, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Tomahawk as influencers.
A beatbox/rap/throwdown mid-set kept things fresh and unpredictable.
Opening with 'How We Operate', and moving onto 'Served with Mustard' from the 'Death Monster Super Squad' recording the band jumped into 'Hall of Shame'.
It was great to see 'Stonk' in the set and Jack creeping round stage like... well... a creep, especially when he peered over the drumkit.
Not sure how Dane manages to stay focused on all the off timings.
But 'Stonk' with its repartee on our modern condition as a society and our tendency to be just as scary as any other animal was lots of fun.
The explanation for 'Battleworm' was very elaborate with expert hand gesture showing exactly what a battleworm looks like.
It was awesome live with its heavy prog infused melodies and groove beats bringing a fun playful heavy vibe that has echoes of the technicality of even Opeth in there.
Closing with Electric Jam on Boogie it was now time for the mighty COG to take the stage.
Starting with the epic, nostalgic and ambient guitar line from the song 'Doors' the crowd started to push in a little closer as the beautiful dynamic vocal range of Flynn Gower stretched across the Byron venue and immediately changing the mood.
It was an intriguing start because you could almost feel the aching of the audience yearning for the drums and bass to kick in and the unleashing of the epic groove in the middle of the song.
And when it did you just knew that this was going to be a special gig.
Within seconds waves of heat were coming over the barrier as the audience fully gave themselves over to the gig.
Flynn's palm-muting driving the song forward, while the rhythm section pumped through.
COG have never been better, stronger, tighter, or more inspirational.
Reminding us of the depth behind each of the lyrics, the band moved onto the politically charge song 'Are you Interested?' - a much needed reminder to remain vigilant in the face of governments and corporations as we enter an ever more politically turbulent landscape.
The upbeat groove in the song getting everyone moving, and leading into "What If?".
It was great to watch Flynn and Luke rocking out at the end of the song where the really meaty and chunky post grunge riffs hit home.
With Flynn thanking the audience and passing on his genuine gratitude to still be sharing the experience of music with such a supportive crowd, the band jumped into the new song 'Altered States', released in April last year, and the rocky, punchy song 'Resonate', with Lucius showing off some tasteful and eloquent drumming.
Audiences were treated to another new song 'The Middle' with everyone thoroughly enjoying the vibe, and everyone in the room moving, and all eyes on stage.
The stunning lighting and perfect sound mix another testament to how much effort goes into each COG show.
The meticulous focus on detail is a testament to the whole vision the band are looking to create.
With 'Run', and 'The Spine' placed in the middle one could be mistaken for thinking it was the loudest sing along of the night but that was still to come.
The only slight casualty of the evening was when they played the latest song that is fresh off the rank.
'Drawn Together' is incredibly fresh and Byron were treated to an exclusive first time performance of the song.
A slight guitar technical malfunction meant there was a small moment where the full impact of the song kicking in didn't have the heavy tones, but overall many wouldn't have even noticed with multiple layers of sound all entwining to create a symphonic and operatic vibe to the song.
The issue was quickly resolved, and everything was back on track, and the audience now able to hear intricate melody in Flynn's guitar lead in the verse.
'My Enemy' got the loudest sing along of the night with every single person in the room screaming out the lyrics and a nice pit forming at the front of stage.
'Birds of Feather' was dedicated to their mum, who was watching from behind the sound desk, and the band closed the set with a huge almighty powerful and emotionally charged energy and atmosphere.
There wasn't a dry shirt in the house, or a punter without a smile.
A stunning gig, with exceptional sound and lighting, a great selection of songs and an intimate insight into the ever evolving sound of the mighty COG.
COG continue to reaffirm their place as one of Australia's best bands, their musicianship and technical prowess only increasing every year.
Let's hope we continue to be gifted with their musical genius and powerful performances for many years to come.