Vampillia: they’re certainly no Bieber

Mar 07, 2015

The Freemason’s Hall on North Terrace was the perfect venue for last night’s performance by Osaka band Vampillia.

Built in 1925, the building is ornate, intricate and majestic – just like Vampillia. Unfortunately for the band, the venue was only about half full, which detracted from the atmosphere of the show.

First support act of the night was two of the members of The Red Paintings, most famous for their song “Mad World”, which featured on the soundtrack to movie Donnie Darko. Lead singer Trash McSweeney, dressed in a Russian-inspired Cassock outfit with an R2D2 backpack, was accompanied by violinist Alix Kol in a full Japanese kimono, and the two provided a powerful acoustic half-hour set.

They were followed by Melbourne post-rock act Fourteen Nights at Sea, whose style is a kind of slow-build, instrumental rock of the type.

Finally, Vampillia made their appearance. Then promptly disappeared again. The audience seemed bemused, until the lights again dimmed and a man with a painted black and white face, dressed only in Calvin Kline jocks, emerged to the strains of Justin Bieber’s “Baby”. He danced satirically for a few verses, and the message was clear – what you’re about to get will be the exact opposite of Bieber. And it was.

Consisting of three vocalists, twin guitars, twin violins, twin drums, bass, viola, piano and a DJ, Vampilla began with dominant piano and violin strains that steadily built to an anarchic crescendo. The female bleach-blonde opera singer added her beautiful vocals, only to be interrupted moments later by what appeared to be a giant shaggy dog running through the crowd and onto the stage. This turned out to be Vampillia’s lead male vocalist, whose hard-core metal – together with the classical instruments, operatic singing and intense guitars and drums – created “beautiful chaos”.

The performance didn’t quite match the Festival description of “a wonderfully bizarre avant-garde hybrid of classical music, heavy rock and punk”. Instead, Vampillia lean much closer to hard-core heavy metal which is lifted out of the ordinary by its interaction with classical music and opera. There was definitely spectacle, high energy and great entertainment, but it wasn’t what some may have been expecting.

Vampillia performed for one night only as part of the Adelaide Festival program.

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