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Hardcore heroics



Mind-blowing: Megadeth's Chris Broderick. Mind-blowing: Megadeth's Chris Broderick.

SWEAT, good times and the slaughter of a T-Rex named Gor Gor - these were the elements that made the Perth leg of the inaugural No Sleep Til festival one of the most unforgettable music events of the year.

Bringing an eclectic mix of the best national and international acts from the 'heavier' realms to our western shores yesterday, the legions of black shirts braving the soaring temperatures were a true testament to the clearly great bevy of musicians roving their wares at Arena Joondalup, splitting the action across two stages.

Melburnians House Vs Hurricane filled the second slot on the main stage - coming out to the comical intro of 90s dance hit, Corona's Rhythm Of The Night, before launching into the more down-tuned notes they are accustomed to.

Sampling treats from their debut LP, Perspectives -released earlier this year - this sextet were all about the choreographed moves, handclaps and uplifting choruses marked by their trademark synth-laden hardcore.

Swedes Katatonia were a bit of an obscure choice for so early in the day, not drawing the expected numbers.

Masses of beautifully-coiffed locks swirled in unison from the duo of guitarists, Anders “Blakkheim” Nystrom and Per “Sodomizer” Eriksson, with the almost ethereal vocals stylings of frontman Jonas Renkse creating a stark contrast with the harsher flavours of prior acts.

Older tracks like Ghosts of the Sun, from 2003's Viva Emptiness, were spliced with the newer, less abrasive picks - a la Liberation (2009) - grounding a set based on tight musicianship rather than energy.

Pure adrenalin? Canadian traditional metal tyrants, 3 Inches of Blood, were defined by it.

Gracing Australia for the first time in their 10-year career, these Vancouver greats certainly made up for time lost - balls to the floor, guitars aimed high and pummelling into oblivion.

Kitted in their finest thrash attire, cut-off denim and patches to the teeth, their half-hour brought the atmosphere to fever pitch - vocalist Cam Pipes unleashing throaty wails on more controversial track Silent Killer off their latest effort, Here Awaits Thy Doom (2009).

These high-time vibes continued, as Me First and the Gimme Gimmes got playfully antagonistic back on the main stage.

Jolting with a smarmy grin through their rollicking, and re-invented classics like Grease favourite We Go Together and Dolly Parton's Jolene, the lads got a little bit more intimate with a solo ukulele version of Olivia Newton John's Xanadu.

Filled with the customary obscenities towards “Fat Mike” Burkett, frontman of NOFX, this quintet give as good as they get - often getting verbally down-and-dirty with the punters.

This set the perfect mood for Aussie snotty punk favourites, Frenzal Rhomb. It's been a while since we've seen the likes of Jay, Lindsay “The Doctor” McDougall and company hit our neck of the woods.

Almost four years, to be exact. But the boys were definitely back in town, with the Doc dressed in a fetching schoolboy outfit - resembling the likes of AC/DC's Angus Young.

Older assaults like Punch In The Face were welcomed in between Russell Crowe's Band and Forever Malcolm Young - mass sing-alongs aplenty with many pimping their incredibly poor taste “Fritzl Rhomb” shirts in a toast to the men who helped define their youth.

A newly-shaved Al Barr prowled the barrier, signalling the start for Irish-American Celtic hardcore giants Dropkick Murphy's. Proving the perfect ingredient for a particularly raucous evening, the 'live' factor of this seven-piece always blows the mind.

Jumping between the “shamrock and roll” blends of Citizen CIA, diverse instrumentalisation of The Fighting 69th and, of course, with voices raised high for Shipping Up To Boston - delivering a salute to the audience as they paved the way for the festival headliners.

But first, headless mutants, armless droogies, blood, gore and oversized phalluses spewing goo heralded GWAR - one of the absolute highlights of the No Sleep Til soiree.

It may have taken them 25 years, but Earth's only openly extraterrestrial outfit finally made it Down Under, sparing no expense on a very R-rated stage show that featured sodomy, decapitation and the death of their pet T-Rex Gor Gor at the hands of frontman Oderus Urungus, after a mishap where the dinosaur almost ate his head.

Celebrating their latest effort, Bloody Pit Of Horror, classics like Saddam A Go Go were not forgotten - with a spear and a Saddam-esque character engaged in some very lewd behaviour…as one can only imagine.

It is hard to believe it has been two decades since the seminal release of Megadeth's Rust In Peace.

The fourth studio album from one of the big four of American thrash - and considered among one of the most influential heavy metal albums of all time - it seemed only fitting that this occasion received its due reverence from both band and fan alike.

The band played the nine-song masterpiece from start-to-finish, each note a nod to the integrity of these titans.

“We're doing pretty good”, iconic frontman Dave Mustaine said, with a smirk, a taste of the only in-between song talk - with skeletal mascot Vic Rattlehead making an appearance before Dawn Patrol.

They ended on a high with the requisite additions of Symphony Of Destruction and Peace Sells, the sea of horns a seal of honour for a band that has changed the lives of so many. 

Click here to see the photo gallery

What: No Sleep Til
Where: Arena Joondalup
When: Sunday, December 12
Reviewed by: Jessica Willoughby
Photographed by: Mark Boyle

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