Gig/Concert: Five Star Prison Cell
Venue: Bang Nightclub, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Date: 8 May 2010
In One Word: Frustrating
On record, Melbourne’s own Five Star Prison Cell are one of the most fascinatingly “technical” bands to inhabit the post-Dillinger (Escape Plan) metal scene. What this means live, simply put, is that they need some damn fine sound mixing to bring out the attention to detail in their music, and unfortunately tonight’s venue is unable to provide such assistance. Sure, the sound improves SLIGHTLY as one moves further back from the stage and the complete mire of noise thereabout, but both band and audience know all-too-well that things could (and have!) been so much better, and the enthusiasm/morale of both is damaged beyond any reasonable repair long before the show’s end.
Repeated pleas from band to sound desk to fix the shabby on-stage mix aren’t enough to stop the musicians from giving it their damnedest, though it is a bit like the awful spectacle of watching a sinking ship. Vocalist Adam Glynn, resplendently sarcastic in a t-shirt which reads “Mike Patton” on one side and “I Fucked Him” on the other (this is the same self-deprecating guy who, in former band Frankenbok, was honest enough about his influences to sing the lyric “don’t need no cunt to say I just wanna be Mike”), seems especially frustrated with the situation, but still does his best to invest his performance with at least a degree of the energy he usually exhibits on-stage. Bassist Cam Macdonald and guitarist Mark Holain go the extra yard to keep things intense, visibly “feeling” the music which we out front-of-house cannot really “hear”. Drummer Marc Whitworth is amazing in his athleticism as always, and perhaps comes off best on account of the complex rhythmic structures of the songs being the ONLY thing that remain aurally intact. Mr Glynn arguably comes off worst: On record he is undeniably one of the most talented vocalists around – the Patton comparisons may be a tad harsh, but they ARE somewhat fair – but when all those layers of vocal innovation are reduced to not only a single voice, but one that can be barely heard much less clearly “made out”, this particular live experience suffers accordingly.
Song-wise, they play only one song that I recognise as being from their first (and thus far, best) album, The Complete First Season – none other than ubiquitous fan-fave “Cola” – and a good few from the imminent third album, Matriarch, but any punters hoping to get a decent taste of the new record leave none the wiser. I strongly doubt that the band themselves can be blamed for tonight’s shitty sound, though one does question the band’s (or management or record label’s?) wisdom of doing a show as important as a cd launch in a venue full of nineteen year-old “emo kids”…the band themselves a little older, and surely more suited to an honest-to-God “metal” crowd than the mostly indifferent, and visibly confused, teenagers composing the back two-thirds of the audience. Trying to hawk their wares to the heavily FEMALE population herein seems especially in vane: Music for teeny-bopper chicks (yeah, you “emos” know the sad truth when ya hear it) this is not!
I look forward to hearing the new album with great anticipation, not because of the (highly dubious) airing they received tonight, but rather on the strength of how good their first two long-players were. And here’s hoping that the sound problems are ironed out for the rest of their current Australian tour, as both the band and their devoted fan-base definitely deserve better.
© Michael Bowser, Music Vice
Pictures of Five Star Prison Cell
Five Star Prison Cell – Myspace