I found myself in Observatory, once again, while this seems to be happening way too often, ROAR is one of the only places that showcases undiscovered or unknown bands. I was told to drop whatever plans I had made because this was a gig I did not want to miss. It was Student Night, entry was 30 bucks, booze was cheap, it was inevitable that Gandalf’s would be filled to its capacity with the resident ‘scene’ kids who partied to everything from 80’s rock ‘n roll to Rihanna and would probably never make the journey up the stairs to check out the live acts. However, upstairs hosted a surprisingly wide variety of society’s usual misfits dressed in black, covered in tattoos and proudly sporting face metal, your goths, emos, metal heads, chicks in insane heels and leopard print, if it’s weird and alternative it was most likely to be found in this dodgy Lord of the Rings themed venue.

As Barrecode took the stage I couldn’t help but find it kind of sweet that there was a bunch of middle aged men all old enough to be my dad rocking it out on stage. There is no shadow of a doubt that these guys are brilliant musicians and that they knew what they were doing, however, they should probably pass the torch on and leave playing ‘rock star’ to the new generation. No one really wants to watch middle aged men going through a midlife crisis. Naturally the music was pretty old school; from 80’s hair metal guitar solos to grungy Kurt Cobain influenced vocals. The entire concept was way too cliché, but the band was enjoying themselves and the crowd respected them for their effort.

The band that followed them was of new blood, All Guns Full Ammo (the name says it all) stepped on stage guns a blazing, bombs ticking and ready to explode. Crazy guitar riffs, and amazing drumming, much heavy stuff in comparison to the progressive stuff drummer Rob would play later with Black Moscow. The volcalist’s energetic presence and bluesy, rock n roll influenced vocals, along with the metal foundation laid down by the rest of the band made for an interesting sound that was difficult to ignore. It was not too heavy, and yet by no means too “sissy” to be discredited as a metal band.

Finally it was time for the headlining band to take the stage. As Verona Walls stepped on stage and started playing (without their vocalist) some insane looking dude started dance behind me, waving his arms around like a giant bird, it was only when the song started to progress and this guy jumped on stage, grabbing the microphone that I realised he was in fact the vocalist; a strange way to start a set but interesting enough to get the crowd’s full attention. From mooning the crowd, to ripping his underpants whilst still wearing it, clapping his hands like a seal and doing random impressions of peculiar characters, vocalist Marco shows signs of what may just be the beginning of a multiple personality disorder. Yet despite the Tom Foolery on the part of the vocalist, the music itself is extremely intellectual. The way in which the band weaves together the melodies and the rhythms, giving the audience an out of this world performance and experience exceeds the boundaries of all your expectations. This is music in the true sense, not to be heard but to be felt and experienced, much like the way in which local bands Isochronous and Lark seem to almost entrance their audience so does Verona Walls by capturing the audience and allowing them to experience the music a way in which most bands don’t.

Black Moscow had both the honour and the burden of having to play after Verona Walls, however, they managed to keep up with the standard that was set. One would never have never guessed that it was guitarist Marc’s third gig of the night nor drummer Rob’s second set at ROAR (All Guns Full Ammo being the first). There was a huge difference in their sound since the last time I saw them at Rock the River, their new material was a lot mellower compared to their older stuff, however, I was extremely impressed by vocalist Xavier who was finally using his unique vocal style to its full potential. As the set neared its close they played the song I’d been waiting for all night, Holon. Quite confident that I knew this one inside out, I prepared myself for some neck straining head banging only to find myself lost in the changes they’d made to the song, forcing me to stand back and actually take a good listen. To my surprise, a song I already thought was quite brilliant was made better. While all of these changes in their existing set and the addition of new material seem for the better, I hope the band doesn’t end up over thinking the music.

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