Headliner: Caligula's Horse
Supports: I built the sky + He Danced Ivy
Venue: The Triffid, Brisbane
Date: October 7th 2017
Photography: Alexander Nisiriou
Caligula’s Horse are the band on everyone’s lips right now. With their fourth album In Contact debuting at number 50 on the ARIA charts, followed by a national tour, they finally return home. Brisbane has been getting ready for the grand finale, and tonight I follow the crowd towards the venue, overhearing punters excitedly discussing what they’d like to hear tonight. There is something in the air.
As doors open, the Triffid is filling up nicely. This is such a great venue. The beer garden is buzzing. I move towards stage as the first band begins their set.
I’d heard of He Danced Ivy in the past but I had never seen them live. They introduced themselves, advised us they were going to play ‘a few friendly tunes’, and the next 30 minutes are a blur of awe-inspiring heavy rock bliss. He Danced Ivy belong on a festival stage. Vocalist Davey has such incredible charisma. He truly is a frontman extraordinaire - a Jeff Buckley with a Josh Homme confidence and the sass of Brian Molko. The band behind him is completely fearless. They look, sound, behave and perform like they’ve been doing this for ages, when in fact they only came together in 2014. With constant antics, jumping around and head banging, they’re also the stuff of dreams for any photographer. Their music is impossible to box into a genre, but if you like melodic heavy indie and alternative rock, these guys are for you. I came in early to see an opener, and I ended up watching a band that could easily be the headliner at any show. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a band have this much fun on stage, and it was infectious, as punters were dancing by the end of the first song. Superb.
Next up were I built the sky. I hear a lot of chatter among the audience about how excited they are to see them. The venue is quite full as their starting time rolls closer. At 9:30, the show begins. The band brings a more relaxed vibe as their melodically charged and soothing post rock spreads across the room. There are obvious comparisons to be drawn with sleepmakeswaves, but I built the sky have their own unique sound, and most punters are swaying along instantly. It feels like too drastic of a change of pace, but the band is well received. They are freakishly tight and produce quite an enormous sound for a three piece. I built the sky deliver world-class post rock, and I highly recommend them to fans of the genre.
In anticipation for the main event, a packed Triffid is buzzing with excitement and the crowd erupts as the stage darkens. What follows is an hour or so of pure joy.
Caligula’s Horse are in fine form tonight. At times the audience is so loud they eclipse the band behind cheering and applause. New additions Josh Griffin and Adrian Goleby have completely assimilated into the band and bring out a new kind of energy to the show. What’s more, it is difficult to imagine this band has been on tour for the last week or so: they hold nothing back.
"Will’s Song" is where the real party begins. Jim Grey’s smile never leaves his face and he quickly stage dives much to everyone’s delight. It’s a beautiful moment. He also thanks the audience for contributing to In Contact’s debut on the ARIA Charts. "The City Has No Empathy" is a treat for die hard fans and Jim thanks them for being there from the start.
"Firelight" gets the whole crowd jumping and singing along. "Dragonfly" and "Rust" are next, and being such dynamic and sparse epics, these tracks make one thing clear: Caligula’s Horse have such power over their audience, that they can soothe like warm milk one moment and start a mosh pit frenzy the next, all in the space of one song. Inciting a riot, and putting the kids to bed, papa Jim holds sway from the first minute to the last. Punters love it. People are dancing, chanting, crowd surfing, having the time of their lives.
"Songs For No One" is my personal favourite from In Contact and I have a very special quiet moment during the song. Followed by crowd pleasers "Into The White" and "Dark Hair" down, the band exits as the audience gets louder and louder, demanding an encore. Jim Grey comes back on stage with the ‘you all know it’s bullshit’. Instead of the band returning with him, he moves his mic stand to the front of stage, and proceeds to recite "Inertia And The Weapon Of The Wall." This is an evocative spoken word piece featured on In Contact and something many would assume wouldn’t work at a live show. But the audience goes dead silent and there is electricity in the air. I feel goosebumps creeping over my entire body. Jim Grey’s performance is transfixing. Punters scream back the last phrases of the poem. The band then jumps into "Bloom" followed by "Marigold", during which I built the sky come on stage to film and take photos. Jim Grey invites a fan on stage and he swiftly jumps back into the crowd. It’s a party the crowd erupts as Caligula’s Horse bow down and take their leave - a heartfelt ending to a clever set full of fan favourites and exquisite performances.
I have followed Caligula's Horse for nearly 8 years and I’ve watched them more times than I can remember. But what I saw tonight was a a band energised, elated, glowing: giving Brisbane fans a career defining performance. Caligula’s Horse are on the verge of worldwide success. And oh, how well deserved it is. As a fan, it was like being a part of a family gathering and the feeling in the room was a very peculiar and exhilarating happiness, the kind only a band this beloved can achieve. A night I will remember for many years to come - an utter triumph.
10 out of 10 performance.
Check out the incredible photos taken from the night by Alexander Nisiriou.