The infrequently-updated site blog, featuring a range of content including show reviews, musical musings and off-color ramblings on other varied topics.
Rites of Passage Tattoo Festival
October 14-16, 2016
Traditionally, a rite of passage is a celebration of the passage, which occurs when an individual leaves one group or sphere to enter another. It is based on the assumption that civilizations are arranged on a scale, implying that the lower levels represent the simplest level of development and that social groups in such a society likewise have magico-religious foundations.
Many groups in modern industrial society practice customs that can be traced to an earlier sacred phase. Passage between these groups requires a ceremony, or ritual hence rite of passage.
In the first phase, people usually withdraw from their current status and prepare to move from one place or status to another. During this phase of separation there is often a detachment or "cutting away" from the former self, which is signified in symbolic actions and rituals, e.g. the cutting of the hair for a person who has just joined the army.
Or a tattoo.
He or she is "cutting away" the former self: the civilian.
While it is questionable if getting a tattoo these days is based on such a spiritual superstructure, as was once was considered taboo and scrutinized has become recognized and mainstream, especially with the realm of tattooing having become the most active arena in the world for the commissioning or original artworks, Australia’s biggest tattoo festival celebrates exactly that: The Rites of Passage Tattoo Festival, which has been running in Melbourne for the last 5 years, aims to bring back what the meaning of tattooing and other forms of body modification, e.g. piercing and branding, means for the individual.
The festival prides itself on the celebration of creativity and connecting different individuals through body art to be a diverse and an all-inclusive event, built on a core value of ‘family’.
Over the course of 3 days, Rites of Passage featured more than 250 tattoo artists from around the globe including Nikko Hurtado of Anchor Collective fame, who specialized in human portrature, Aniela Frudum from Sweden, and a range of Australian artists (Khan, Mystik Tattoos, Jake Danielson, Khail Aitken, Andrew Smith among others) showcasing their work and the professionalism of the industry.
Rites of Passage also featured live entertainment, Moto X Freestyle action featuring Australia’s most prominent motocross team Freestyle Kings, Battle of the Bands, local food trucks, competitions for upcoming talent, industry tattoo skill seminars for budding and professional artists and art exhibitions curated by Rhys Gordon, who is heralded for his knowledge of Japanese tattoo culture and its mythology that is reflected in his work and who hosted a seminar on Australian tattoo history.
Rites of Passage Fest is the embodiment of the fact that attitudes towards and tattooing in itself have evolved significantly over the years, with artists from a variety of backgrounds, most prominently from the realm of fine art, enriching and pushing the envelope of what was thought to be possible with their ideas and consequently expanding the range of people who are now looking to get ink done or who are just intrigued to find out more about the process and the artists.
The team behind Rites of Passage has succeeded in designing an eclectic experience with an inclusive atmosphere, making it enjoyable event for all ages and something to save the date for in 2017.
Photos by KAVV
Kooza, Cirque du Soleil
October 6, 2016
Kooza first premiered in 2007 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada where circus conglomerate Cirque du Soleil, the largest theatrical producer on this earthround, was founded in 1983 as part of the 450th anniversary celebrations of Jacques Cariter’s voyage to Canada.
Defining “nouveau cirque” by combining circus styles from around the globe, animal free thrills, continuous live music, death defying stunts and its theatrical, character driven approach, Cirque du Soleil expanded rapidly through the 1990s and 2000s, going from one show to 19 shows in over 271 cities on about every continent except Antarctica.
Accessible, earnest, yet undeniably artful – these were Cirque’s trademark qualities.
It became a brand.
A brand with a myriad of incarnations.
As brands become bigger, financially successful and multi-faceted, extending its offerings whilst retaining vitality and relevance without compromising its artistic integrity can be a challenge.
Your humble narrator has had the pleasure of seeing Cirque du Soleil productions in different locations. Especially recent ones were hit and miss, especially when the shows derived from the realm of traditional circus traditions: it got bigger, flashier and at times over-poised and acrobatically underwhelming.
“When in doubt, go back to the basics” might be a worn out, clichéd phrase, but it certainly holds true for Cirque du Soleil’s Kooza, which sees a return to the trademark blue-and-yellow Big Top.
Kooza reflects Cirque du Soleil's return to more traditional circus arts with clowning and acrobatics: Inspired by the Sanskrit word “koza” – which means box, chest or treasure, the name KOOZA was chosen because one of the underlying concepts of the production is the idea of a “circus in a box” – only fitting that Kooza kicks off with the Trickster being unleashed like a jack-in-the-box to kick off the proceedings.
The return to the Grand Chapiteau creates an intimacy that is vital to foundation of the Cirque du Soleil experience: Kooza's stage is designed to evoke a public square that changes into a circus ring.
The sight lines offer views of up to 280 degrees which serves as the platform for an international cast of 50 acrobats, musicians, singers and actors presenting heart-stopping feats and clowneries to a seamless live soundtrack fusion of jazz, 1970s funk and Bollywood beats emanating from a dominating traveling tower dubbed the "bataclan."
The structure of the Grand Chapiteau is always in full view and all aspects of the performance are transparent - the fact that there is no effort made to disguise or conceal the performances helps to focus the attention on the artists and thus creates an environment where the danger of the acts is palpable.
The comic-book aesthetic of the more than 175 custom-made, intricate costumes complements the scenographic set design with its focus on archetypes and universal characters, drawing on a wide variety of sources of inspiration: Paintings of Gustav Klimt, Indian and Eastern European touches, Mad Max and timetravel movies laced with winks towards the Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland.
Kooza delivers on every level with its ten acrobatic acts, which are supplemented by minor burlesque acts that develop the storyline:
Be it the house troupe creating human towers Nutcracker-style inspired by the Inuit game of “Blanket Toss,” jaw dropping feats of contortion creating a tableaux of sculptural beauty, an aerial hoop act, a pas de deux waltzing on a unicycle, fencing and other stunts on the high wire that most of us would have trouble with performing on the ground, the artist powered wheel of death or the teeterboard catapulting artists into lofty heights where they perform quintuple twisted summersaults with stilts strapped to their legs– with each act Kooza combines thrilling acrobatic performance with infectious fun and genuinely warm and funny undertones.
Kooza is engaging, charming and gradually upping the ante throughout the show.
A true return to form focusing on human performance in its rawest, most frail yet glamorous and awe-inspiring state.
If Cirque du Soleil’s mission was to invoke the imagination, provoke the senses and evoke the emotions of the spectators, Kooza as a colourful mélange and tribute to the core values of the golden days of the circus - accomplishes it.
Kooza does not only have the “wow factor” but firmly establishes Cirque du Soleil as the “wow factory”: This is Cirque at its best - an immersive, thrilling and entertaining night out.
Photos courtesy of Cirque du Soleil
KOOZA by Cirque du Soleil will conclude its Sydney season on November 13. Following Sydney, the tour moves to Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth.
Newtown Social Club
September 29, 2016
Do not let the name deter you: You want to see Totally Unicorn in all of their unbridled beauty before they blow up and no longer grace the confines of small clubs with their sweaty, nude, booze-soaked presence.
It has been a while since I’ve been to a fun hardcore punk show that left everyone with a smile on their faces, singing along to Toto’s “Africa.”
Totally Unicorn’s recently released full-length album Dream Life draws influences from the likes of Converge, Dillinger Escape Plan, Botch, Cave In and the likes.
What reads on paper like a diligent mathcore band, is an entirely different beast in a live scenario -- a beast with a spiraling, large, pointed horn projecting from its forehead at that.
Some say there is a difference between grotesque and antic.
It might be a fine line but Totally Unicorn not only walks but inhabits it when it comes to their live performance: Take the best parts of early Fucked Up’s crowd engagement, i.e. front man buried in the pit -- clothes optional -- add ample measures of alcohol and medication generated oomph and hilarity, garnish with balloons, sprinkle with the trademark Australian pisstaking and stir with the barrel of a confetti canon.
Voilà! A fascinating, seriously fun and uncontrived live show that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Totally Unicorn is an example par excellence for the fact that being technically gifted and musically spot on, the ability to effortlessly bring the party and defying stereotypes do not have to be mutually exclusive.
Photos by T
Sounds of the Suburbs Festival
September 25, 2016
Cronulla, the “place of the pink seashells," is a beachside suburb, about 30 kilometers south of the Sydney central business district in the Sutherland Shire, an area serving as the backdrop for the classic 1981 coming of age movie Puberty Blues, for which a big part of today’s laid-back, beachy crowd would have been the perfect cast – given that Sounds of the Suburbs festival is aimed at Sydney’s beautiful young things, people aged 18 to 24.
Squeezed into the Wilbar laneway behind the Space 44 gallery, which quintessentially turned a house into a live music and arts venue, and the Mexican restaurant/bar El Sol, the fourth installment of the boutique-y yet burgeoning Sounds of the Suburbs festival was held.
Sounds of the Suburbs is a laneway festival packed with Sydney’s newest and brightest of the indie variety, the odd touring band, Mexican food and culture located deep in the southern suburbs of Sydney. Summa summarum: All the key ingredients for a great DIY festival.
The 2016 all-day indie bill incarnated on multiple stages, one of which open for anyone bringing a device and plug whatever they wanted in, were supplemented by an art room displaying works from local creatively inclined folks, as well as Mexican food from El Sol and Italian wood-fired pizza.
Unfortunately only Budweiser was served on the beer front and while one was salivating at the prime selection of tequilas at display in the back of El Sol’s bar, only sangria and rum was served. Sacre bleu!
With DZ Deathrays (fresh off from an immensely successful Australian tour with Violent Soho), surf-inspired Guantanamo Baywatch, Peter Bibby, Alex Lahey, Verge Collection, Big White, Wild Honey, James Crooks, Tees, Pist Idiots, Baxter, Wash, Amyl And The Sniffers, Heads Of Charm, Red Wine Roses, The Cloacas, The Moving Stills, MVRKS, Mini Skirt, Uplifting Bell Ends and Stay At Home Mum this year’s incarnation of the festival lineup was not only eclectic, but even if you’re unaware of the protagonists, the names alone made you want to check them out.
For the most part, the bands gracing the main stage played fast paced, condensed sets, the lion’s share with an electric combination of lo-fi riffs coupled with energetic, offbeat stage presence, which did not fail to elicit boisterous and at time reckless responses from the willing, sold-out crowd.
Inside Space 44, in a more intimate environment bands like Wild Honey channeled their alchemy
Sounds of the Suburbs is a unique festival that has not merely found but created its very own and unique niche.
Having progressively gotten bigger and better with each year, one would not be surprised if it would evolve to a mainstream fest.
Photos by KAVV
Apocalyptica, We Lost the Sea
Rumor has it that Ritchie Blackmore tried to get into mastering the cello, the attention-getter among instruments – try to ignore a woman lugging one around, at some point of his career.
He came to the conclusion that one has to dedicate one’s whole life to it, after which he went back to playing guitar and turning it up a bit louder.
In classical music the bowed string instrument is often considered to be one of the less interesting instruments, eclipsed by the piano and the violin, because it tends to be used for drawn-out notes to give a melancholic tone.
Apocalyptica are a classically trained cello metal band and have mastered the art of exploring the range of the cello, showcasing how diverse and powerful it can be – playing it as low as the double bass and a high as the violin, along with making it sound like the human voice.
Apocalyptica started 20 years ago with an album solely consisting of Metallica covers played on cellos. Twenty years on, eight studio albums with compositions of their own along with collaboration with the likes to Ville Valo of HIM, Corey Taylor of Slipknot fame and Cristina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil later, they descended upon Sydney as part of their “Shadowmaker” tour.
The set list consisted of a mix of originals and crowd pleasing cover songs, including heavy hitters by Metallica and Sepultura, interspersed by a segment with their current touring singer, Frankie Perez, which was the most conventional part of their performance.
Bringing together fans from heavy and more traditional musical spheres, the multi-faceted range Apocalyptica draws from makes them a very powerful and fun live act to see, keeping the audience on its toes as they seamlessly slide from Wagnerian tributes via somber moments to their various collaborations/covers, which elicit reactions and participation from the audience that you normally would only expect from hard rock acts with more traditional instrumentation. A great evening for anyone into heavy and classical music.
The evening was opened by We Lost the Sea, a great post-metal instrumental band from Sydney.
For some, music is nothing but a mundane distraction of background noise.
For others music can serve as a tool of survival and bring hope to otherwise hopeless situations.
Life is complex. The emotions it evokes even more so. Music can provide solace.
We Lost the Sea gives consolation by wonderfully executing lengthy, hefty instrumental songs with towering guitar arrangements that create an active, immersive and cathartic listening experience.
A band to look out for.
Photos by KAVV
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The Men 7th St Entry Minneapolis, MN June 12, 2013 On just the third night of their North American tour, Brooklyn-based band The Men landed in Minneapolis for a packed-in ... read more
(This review contains copious spoilers: if you intend to read the novel yourself, proceed with caution. We're posting it as a blog since it's not strictly music-related, despite being written by ... read more
Tegan and Sara were appreciated by Albany, NY last month when they came to the Upstate Concert Hall, the first time they've visited since the duo released So Jealous, which ... read more
Anthrax, Exodus, High On Fire, Municipal Waste, Holy Grail First Avenue Minneapolis, MN April 4th, 2013 Continuing their recent-ish trend of performing classic albums in their entirety, Anthrax rolled into ... read more
In the days following Adam Yauch’s passing in May of last year, many of us nostalgia-stricken fans were searching for words to express how deeply saddened we were by not ... read more
February 28th, 2013 As I write this, I am overlooking the Sea of Cortez on the Baja Peninsula from the balcony of my room at a vacation resort outside of ... read more
This hip-hop train just keeps on rolling. And although I would like to think I’m fully on board, it feels more like I’m running beside it, trying to keep up, ... read more
Well, here we are, a whole month into the New Year, and as usual January was spent catching up on all the music I slept on last year. Normally the ... read more
The tiny Black Heart in Camden holds court to an evening of droned out sludge, traditional heavy doom, and more English black metal than you can shake a stick at ... read more
The Unicorn is suffering from a severe lack of air con tonight, the tension in the air made all the palpable by the insane levels of heat and the anticipation ... read more
The view that Scene Point Blank has been afforded for tonight’s performance is beautiful, and the sea of heads below on the floor is all the more astonishing seen from ... read more
Minus the Bear and Cursive have been on tour for the past few months in support of their 2012 releases. Minus the Bear put out Infinity Overhead in August, while ... read more
Murder by Death have just begun to tour for their new album, Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon, by supporting pop-punk troop, Say Anything. It's an interesting combo and Murder by Death ... read more
It's rare that you attend a show that feels like it has the weight of history riding on it, but seeing At The Drive-In play what is likely to be ... read more
Fun. are back on the road selling out shows again. This time however, they didn't just sell out one show, but 3 nights at the illustrious Wiltern Theater in Los ... read more
Murder by Death are preparing the release of their 6th studio album, Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon, while celebrating the 10-year anniversary of their first LP, Like The Exorcist, but More ... read more
Well, it's high time that progressive music got a good, high-ish-profile awards show, and now, thanks to Prog Magazine, we have one. The bad news is that it stlil shows ... read more
Japandroids 7th St. Entry Minneapolis, MN July 7, 2012 When a touring band starts their set by saying, “It feels like we’re back home, Minneapolis”, the natural instinct is to go ... read more
LeBron James is Four Titles and a Rape Allegation Away From Becoming Kobe Bryant: How the Miami Heat Winning is Bad for Basketball Now I know that we here at ... read more
Royal Headache, The Arrivals, Condominium Triple Rock Social Club Minneapolis, MN June 9, 2012 It was with some intrigue and, admittedly, mostly trepidation that I made my way to ... read more
Hot Water Music just released their new album, Exister, and recently spent a couple nights in So-Cal to warm up the new songs before they head out to Europe this ... read more
There are a few cultural constants we all come to understand depending on where we come from, and growing up in Vermont is no exception. Amongst other things, many develop ... read more
Once again, fun. are on the road and Scene Point Blank was there to catch another great show. The band's playing the clubs in support of their sophomore record, Some ... read more
I had the pleasure of attending the 5th annual Musink Fest in Costa Mesa, CA--a festival blending live music and an appreciation for tattoo art--hosted by LA Ink star, Kat ... read more
Cursive recently began touring in support of their 7th studio album, I Am Gemini. I had the privilege of catching their show in Pomona, CA where they played a great ... read more
I know we don't usually review websites here at Scene Point Blank, but we just couldn't help ourselves after our editor in chief Loren received the following request: Hi,I'm Pheiné, ... read more
The piece ended rather suddenly, almost completely without warning. The conductor held his position for a moment, then slowly brought his arms down. The theater erupted with applause as the ... read more
Saves the Day and Bayside decided to team up this Fall to deliver a thrilling show fans of either could appreciate. Joining them on the tour are I Am ... read more
The World/Inferno Friendship Society recently started their US tour supporting their new album, The Anarchy and The Ecstasy, with sci-fi-psychobilly (psy-fi?) band, The Phenomenauts. You could not ask for a ... read more
Last Thursday, The Purple Turtle in London's infamous Camden held what is likely to be the most fun headlining show I've seen this year. Cannabis Corpse, fresh off the back ... read more
Motley Crue and Poison live, Target Center, Mpls, MN, 6/24/11 The New York Dolls opened the show but I couldn’t tell you damn thing about them. The girlfriend and I literally ... read more
Read Midwest Hell Fest Wrapup-Day 1 here. Despite intermittent sleep, I wake up feeling fairly well rested. If memory serves correctly, I’m somewhere deep within the confines of enemy territory—Wisconsin. ... read more
After losing a year of my life behind the wheel, I finally arrive at my destination: Kimberly, Wisconsin. Upon walking into the hotel—and I use this term loosely—lobby, I am ... read more
After a long wait and two opening acts—the clock struck 9:30 and Fun took the stage, while the boys and girls cheered. Suddenly, the beautiful overture to “Be Calm” opens ... read more
200 bands, seemingly as many beers, and only three nights. Where do I begin my recap? My stomach is still shrunken from not eating right, and I continue to drink ... read more
Let me start off by saying that I love all three of these bands, and I have been looking forward to this show since I got confirmed to photograph it. ... read more
Portugal. the Man is a Portland, Oregon based experimental indie-rock band, fronted by native Alaskan John Gourley. If you haven’t heard the story about this up and coming group, Gourley’s ... read more
I don't know how many of you have heard of Moving Mountains. A band from Westchester, NY, they are fresh off a tour with Thursday, about to embark on a ... read more
I hit the 500 review mark last week with my Narrows review. That's a lot of reviews. Sometimes I get burnt out with all the stuff coming through, especially when ... read more
So I just got done watching the season finale of Scrubs. It was Zach Braff's final episode. His character is saying goodbye, but I think they gave it a nice ... read more
Two months ago I had high hopes for the Cleveland Browns. Now I am left with a fairly mediocre season. We shall see how the remainder plays out. I'm looking ... read more
Might as well has this here too, it's been three years since I wrote it. I think it still holds true. Space for rent. Your ad here. My name is ... read more
I forgot to post this prior to week one, but given the outcome of that game, maybe it was for the best. Anyway, the Browns season is underway and that ... read more
Over the weekend a band that was very dear to my heart announced their sudden breakup and played their final show. I first became acquainted with Life Long Tragedy over ... read more
I was yelled at again for writing this, and since I am applying for a job at a local newspaper, I don't really want this hanging over my head. Sorry ... read more
Last night my band played with Souvenir's Young America, City of Ships, and Monolith at Siren Records in Doylestown, PA; it was a fun time all the bands played real ... read more
If you didn't hear the news, Roy Scheider died this week at the age of 75. Jaws is one of my all-time favorite films. I am extremely sad. I fully ... read more
They could make me look not so good to certain people. Nobody read them anyways. read more
So, back when Cave In's Until Your Heart Stops dropped on the hardcore masses several years back, I had the chance of catching the band at Middlesex County Community College. ... read more
I broke out my CD for the Gehenna- The War of the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness and saw something that always made me smile. Allow me ... read more
Hello. Some of you might remember (or have participated in) my experiment over the summer collecting people's wishes on this page. I got over 160 entries and published them all ... read more
Imagine being in this kid's place... Interview w/ Henry Rollins read more
Even though it is just a joke, I'd still vote for Stephen Colbert for president before I'd vote for anyone else for running, outside of the longshots that have no ... read more
Dear Atreyu, Please stop. No seriously, please stop...now. - File has been removed. It was up for a month. It was the band's cover of Faith No More's "Epic." - ... read more
I woke up today at 5:30am to get my ass to the store to open it for what I figured would be another boring Sunday at work. Work has been ... read more
So the man that founded Factory Records and helped Joy Division become as huge as they did through hype died today. Not alot of people repect what Wilson did for ... read more
Yesterday during rush hour traffic on 35W the bridge than spans the mighty Mississippi fell. There was no earthquake. There was no terrorist attack. The bridge just buckled and toppled ... read more
Part 1: Mission Statement, Introduction, and first terribly nostalgic musing A number of years ago, a few friends of mine, myself, and people who would quickly become my friends used ... read more
Shook Ones, for the uninitiated, are a melodic hardcore band from Seattle, Washington. Their debut LP, Sixteen, had some serious Kid Dynamite aping going on, without a doubt, but it ... read more
Remember when the idea of Friday the 13th used to be scary? Maybe its because I am a grown adult, but there just does not seem to be any horror ... read more
You have no idea how wonderful it is to be finally typing these words. Not that my work is done: a SPB staffer's work is never done! But seriously: typing ... read more
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