Botch + We Lost The Sea @ The Triffid Brisbane [Live Review]

Review: Joshua Hobbins
Photography: Nate Rose

The Dillinger Escape Plan – check. Converge – check. Cave In – check. And now, after a 20 years hiatus, the almighty Botch! How fortunate we are to exist in a time that generated these life-changing artists, and that they were all able to make their way down under to share their craft with us.

The first time I met Sydney 6-piece instrumental band We Lost The Sea, they were playing a show in the 4ZZZ carpark in 2010. A lot has changed in the last 14 years, and tonight they had the honour of opening proceedings for this momentous show at The Triffid, and what an opening it was.

Walking on stage to the delay-laden opening of A Beautiful Collapse, from 2019’s Triumph & Disaster album, the crowd was eagerly making their way in and to the front. New drummer Alasdair Belling was playing only his 3rd show with the band tonight, after founding member and original skins man Nathaniel D’Ugo parted ways with the band last year. From the evidence shown tonight, he’s slotted in perfectly, and his rhythmic relationship with bassist Kieran Elliott was immediately on display as they ushered in the 3-pronged guitar attack of Mark Owen, Matt Harvey and Carl Whitbread, and keyboardist Mathew Kelly.

The band were in full flight tonight, soaring majestically through their 45-minute set. The intricacies of each section of Towers were felt and heard through the stellar mix, which lent the band a heaviness that’s hard to capture with such clarity. We were treated to a new song from the band’s forthcoming album, which, if tonight’s performance was any indication of what’s to come, signals another amazing addition to their already world-class catalogue.

I felt the positivity flowing not only through the riffs, but through the 6 members on stage, and I can’t wait to see the guys come back and do a full headline set. A brilliant start to this most excellent night.

You could feel the nervous energy building, a kind of shared anxiety, as Showroom Dummies by Señor Coconut plays. A lone stuffed cat, staring us down from atop the bass amp, overlooks the eager crowd before we are greeted from the stage by Dave Verellen(vocals), Brian Cook (bass and vocals), Dave Knudson (guitar) and Tim Latona (drums and keyboards).

The set kicks into overdrive from the first notes of To Our Friends in the Great White North. As a master manipulator of pedals, tone and presence, Cook and his thunderous bass tone rattled the Triffid and our bones for the entire set. Verellenprowled the stage, commanding us to follow him as he led us into an aural frenzy that did not let up for an hour. Knudson’s guitar teetered on the precipice of dissonance and distorted drone. Latona is simply a powerhouse behind the kit, and he perfectly showcased chops that have influenced so many great drummers the world over.
Verellenwas really interactive with the crowd the whole set. There was a funny back and forth all night, with Verellen laughing with us and claiming that Australia was winning in the heckle department vs. the rest of the world.

What was apparent throughout the set is how influential Botch have been on so many bands – it’s there to appreciate on record, but it’s in their live sound and stage presence that we can fully comprehend this notion. There are so many great ideas in each song, and the 4 members so perfectly meld these riffs and grooves and blasts and chugs together.

The pit was frantic the whole set, with the groove/swagger of 2022’s One Twenty-Two really getting the throng moving. Verellen then professed his love for The Triffid as a really important venue, whilst Cook lamented the closing of The Zoo, reminding us how lucky we are in Brisbane to have such great spaces for music/art.

After some back and forth bidding (it got to $80) on the cat atop Cook’s amp, we were treated to Hutton’s Great Heat Engine, from the seminal American Nervoso album. Dissonantly beautiful and tighter than a molecular knot, Knudson delivers some of the gnarliest, angular guitar tones, followed by walls of feedback leading to a huge, psych-fuzz ending. Goosebump moment – the crowd singing “It’s so quiet here” with Verellen.

After a very brief toilet break, we are treated to the amazing Afghamistam, with Cook taking over the vocals while his bass looped doomily underneath. Latona shows off his piano skills, and we revel in the dream-like state that’s been created. C Thomas Howell as the “Soul Man” then takes us on a journey from super dense, to super clean, and everything in between. The room goes silent as Cook’s 3 note refrain plays over and over. The crowd pleads with the band to not break up. Verellen informs us that the last song was influenced by religion coming into his life at the age of 10 and fucking him up.

Saint Matthew Returns to the Womb blasts us away, as Cook and Verellen share their vocal vitriol with us. A cathartic, chaotic, cacophonic close to a once-in-a-lifetime show.