Gig Review - Haken + Archetypes + Kodiak Empire @ The Zoo, Brisbane

Headliner: Haken

Supports: Archetypes + Kodiak Empire

Venue: The Zoo, Brisbane

Date: 28th September 2017

Making my way into the Zoo on a sizzling Brisbane evening, I could feel the excitement in the air. Haken are a band loved by many progressive rock fans and this is their very first show not only in Brisbane, but in Australia, and at 8pm, the venue was already buzzing.

The Zoo recently underwent quite a transformation and looks and feels incredible. The heat inside proved to be a distraction all night and the main point of conversation as punters gravitated towards the back of the venue or made clusters under the fans. Nevertheless, the night proceeded to be an unforgettable one.

Kicking off the proceedings were locals Kodiak Empire – a band that has been making waves in the progressive rock scene, supporting giant names like COG, Orsome Welles, Caligula’s Horse and Mother’s cake. Their brand of prog is compelling and very ambitious. Guitarists Joseph Rabjohns and bassist Benjamin Shannon play off each other masterfully, with keyboardist Josh Engel adding old-school jazzy runs and licks that make this even more fun. The band plays around with dissonance often, with vocalist Bryce Carleton constantly surprising the listener with his choice of melodies. He proves to be an entertaining front man that reminds me of Ian Kenny in his early days. By the end of their set, the crowd is swaying along and gives them a loud send off. Kodiak Empire are certainly an acquired taste, but that’s what makes them exciting and I can’t wait to see what’s next for these up-and-comers.

Next up are Archetypes. Jokingly self-described as a mix of prog rock and Pete Murray, these guys are pretty exciting. Vocalist Jonah Hicks opens up the set with a blistering clean tenor that many would envy. Weaving their way in and out of progressive rock, Archetypes have the habit of breaking into simple and catchy choruses the audience greatly appreciates, cheering them on at every change. I can tell they’re having tonnes of fun on stage, albeit seeming a little nervous at first. Guitarist Marty King admits supporting Haken is a great moment for the band and for himself, and the smile never leaves his face for the duration of the set. There are many Archetypes fans here tonight, singing along and rocking out and the crowd erupts in applause as the band close. If you prefer a more melodic approach to progressive rock, Archetypes are for you.

As the night reaches boiling point, both temperature and excitement wise, The Zoo is full and there is a feeling of anticipation in the air. After about 30 minutes, the lights dim and Haken take the stage.

I spent a lot of time thinking about how I could write about their performance without using words like ‘incredible’ and ‘amazing’ too many times. From the moment they took the stage, to the moment they exited, Haken held the audience in their grip with such power and elegance that it was difficult to even leave to get a drink or use the restroom. 

Haken are truly mesmerising. The sound is perfect, their presence transfixing, and their performance incredibly tight and fluent. I can’t help but think these guys are superhuman. The poise and calmness they play their instruments with is nothing short of baffling and awe-inspiring. The band flew into Australia this very day, but there is no lack of energy whatsoever. Singer Ross Jennings jumps into the set eagerly, his voice soaring above the crowd. And what a voice it is. I can only describe him as flawless – his vocals never falter, his attention is firmly fixed on the crowd and he gives them everything. The famous glow-in-the-dark glasses come out for 1985 and there is a cheer so loud the Zoo’s floorboards shake under my feet. You can really tell fans are ecstatic to see Haken after waiting so many years for them to come here. Guitarist Charlie Griffiths has his gaze upon the crowd and I can tell he’s having the time of his life, in his own endearing way. Diego Tejeida is smiling the entire time, and has his centre stage moment when the keytar comes out, much to the crowd’s appreciation. Richard Henshall’s fingers are a blur as he fiddles away on his Strandberg. The band proceeds to play crowd favourite 'Cockroach King', which is met with hands in the air. Ross Jennings thanks both the support bands and remarks ’My shirt has never been this wet, ever’. Ray Hearne and Conner Green are two parts of a whole, with the rhythm section fused together into one massive driving force. Next up is 'The Endless Knot', at the end of which Jennings steps onto the podium with open arms as bass and applause rumble through the venue. The crowd swiftly demands and encore and Haken deliver: a momentous conclusion to an hour and a half of world-class entertainment.

Many of us no doubt wished that this night would never end. Walking out of the Zoo, I couldn’t help but think I'd probably never seen a show this good. I felt inspired, elated, and happy. It is so very rare for a band to pull your heart strings in such a way, but Haken are certainly one. Their Australian tour continues this week, and I urge you to get a ticket stat. An experience I will never forget. 

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