Converge & Genghis Tron @ The Corner Hotel, Melbourne (18/03/2010)
Genghis Tron sound like an unhappy computer virus that plays upon an audience as an infestation likened only to plague. Which is why it’s not hard to accept that sound may be an issue as it was the very thing they were playing against.
This was the first time that Genghis Tron has ever played Melbourne and it hopefully wasn’t to be the last. Board Up The House – the title track from their latest studio album – opened the night as a technically diverse and textually proficient psychedelic math-metal number, musically synonymous with the ideas Brian Eno thought were stupid in the height of a month-long acid binge.
They played seemingly ignorant of their sound troubles as if it’s a familiar live issue and looked to enjoy themselves as thoroughly as their accountant-like exteriors lead on. Through a 45-minute set consisting of jams also from Dead Mountain Mouth and the Cloak Of Love EP, including such tracks as Endless Teeth, Chapels, Arms, Asleep On The Forest Floor, and a cover of Bad Penny by Steve Albini’s Big Black, Genghis Tron conquered convincingly enough to satisfy their existing fan’s though possibly without converting those unfamiliar with their material.
Converge entered the stage relatively calmly, ostensibly to maximise the impact of the Jacob Bannon lead onslaught that soon prevailed. Suffering from poor sound Converge worked through material made up predominantly of their last two albums Axe To Fall and No Heroes, though not without dragging song’s like Concubine and Eagles Become Vultures from the classic albums Jane Doe and You Fail Me respectively.
Converge almost seem to play for a different audience live and support a belief that their most recent albums establish them as a studio-orientated band, with many of the song’s almost unplayable due to the studio genius of guitarist/producer Kurt “dig this amazing guitar tone” Ballou. All the passion and intention they play with occasionally fails to make up for the swarming layers of guitar and vocals that make their album’s hardcore masterpieces, though they should be applauded for ignoring the highly-accessible and well-saturated “backing-track” that would only compromise the originality and immediacy of their music. Despite seeming texturally deprived at times, they still manage to play live with the same originality and focus that makes their albums so great.
Over the hour they jumped between albums consistently and without fault or a pause to consider anything but the impact of what they were doing. Tracks like Axe To Fall, Reap What You Sow, Bare My Teeth, Dark Horse, and No Heroes were all delivered in quick succession; the band stopping only to re-tune and collect themselves while vocalist Jacob Bannon digressed on topics of failure and it’s motivation. His look is one you wouldn’t dare cross and his lyrics are directed at those who have done just that.
At Bannon’s suggestion, Converge are an outlet for revenge; a group of four inexorable personalities who condense life’s afflictions into fragmented bursts of musical aggression, each one ends only to allow the other to begin. It feeds the cycle of their presence and is held together only by the finest sub-atomic thread that closely tails self-combustion. Their skill is in avoiding the disastrous moment when it all falls into ruin at a catastrophic 230+bpm, something they have perfected over their 20-year career.
Unlikely choices such as the track Jane Doe and Locust Reign from The Poacher Diaries – a split EP made with Agoraphobic Nosebleed – closed the night abruptly after a single encore. Thankful were the crowd who’d given all the energy the band had demanded and left satisfied by the chaos of Converge. The show was swift and effective and perfectly captured the intensity of their songs, completely driven by the intention that makes them the most important hardcore band today.