As I approached the long queue of wet and excited party goers waiting outside Gilkison Dance Studio on Saturday night, an earie thought confronted me. The sudden onset of wind and rain seemed to symbolize the end of a remarkable era and as more exotic and freaky punters arrived, the spooky presence of St Mary’s Cathedral penetrated through the misty lights and offered a kind of spooky redemption from a close distance. The spirit of Halloween was definitely upon us and as we entered the historically listed venue for one final fling, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who reflected quietly upon the end of a well-known legacy….
Emerging from the ashes of an infamous local Goth and Industrial scene, Incursion Alternative Parties kicked off in early 2012 as a vision to reconstruct the memorable old school Saturday nights at “Sin”, where Perth misfits gathered and danced the night away to insanely dark electro and Industrial mixes by some of the best DJs of the alternative genre. It was a time when controversy and oppression surrounded even the greatest anti-establishment artists and modern-day witch hunts were a daily struggle for the small percentage of disenchanted youth who rejected the social trends of today’s society. Those who experienced the Perth Alternative Scene recall the daily fight against the mainstream and Gilkison Dance Studio provided that perfect refuge for a growing number of black uniformed outcasts who found their solace amongst the bass lines and smoke of the dance floor.
During the heights of these glory years, Gilkison Dance Studio became the leading venue for many alternative themed events including the annual Halloween events, where various club nights would host unforgettable parties that would rage well into the early hours of the morning. These successful parties attracted the so called ‘outcasts’ of society, who would dedicate hours of effort to produce their own incredible costume designs so they could express themselves freely without judgement from the outside world. These Halloween parties became a symbol of defiance and after many great years of resistance, the Public and their Authorities eventually got their own way and shut it all down… Well at least that was what they thought….
Blending the old days with the new, the lads from Incursion (Blair/Trent) and their highly dedicated team of performers and crew decided to resurrect the annual Halloween festivities at Gilkison Dance Studio over the last five years, bringing a whole new level of entertainment while maintaining a premium hotspot for all lovers of the alternative. As one can imagine, with all this history it was indeed very sad news earlier this year when Incursion announced that 2017 would be their final Halloween event and for many it was one last chance to live out the good old days one more time.
As I Stepped into the venue I was instantly drawn toward haunting original artwork and scary decorations that seem to be everywhere, transforming this multi-level venue into the seventh circle of hell. The effort and creativity involved in the construction of these parties has always been an Incursion signature stamp and as you walk down the stairs and descend into the basement, you really do feel like you’ve just committed your soul to its eternal damnation. Lining up at the bar for that first refreshing beverage, I caught my first glimpse of the dance floor where the party was just getting started and a sense of anticipation and excitement filled me. Darkness filled the entire room and as the local DJs began to pump the atmosphere with popular Industrial and alternative mixes, various forms of lighting seemed to pierce through the rising smoke and projected the silhouettes of terrifying creatures dancing and having fun on the dancefloor. Before long however, the final sound checks of the opening band could be heard in the upper floor known as the “Catacomb” and many of us raced back upstairs to check out the first live performance of the night.
The upstairs stage in the Catacomb has come a long way over the last few years and I was keen to see how the sound would manage All This Filth, a fitting local Metal band who dedicate their music to exposing the filth of humanity and scum of the earth. For the fans of Sepultura, Chimaira, Fear Factory or Slipknot, these guys are an outfit worth checking out. The small room was packed tightly and you could tell the crowd was itching for some serious distortion to appease the Metal Gods. Vocalist Brendan picked up the microphone without hesitation and announced the first song of the night “11 Past” which opened up with a massive roar and a sea of heads up the front began wind milling like crazy. I was impressed with how All This Filth have developed their sound since their conception in 2008, with a standout bass tone and two crunchy guitars tones which are complimented by a haunting ambience of live Keyboards and samples.
Brendon’s been doing what he loves for as long as I can remember and he just knows how to keep the crowd intrigued, introducing each song with so much energy and conviction as the crowd continued to shout for more. The riffs of their newest songs such as “Drowning” were very groovy with a catchy mosh worthy pace set by drummer Gordo. I loved the constant triplets throughout the mix and the crash of the china at each breakdown kept all our necks spinning in every direction. Many of the ATF favourites were played throughout their set including the popular track “Programmed to Suffer” and as they ended their set with the song “Deep we die” the crowd was clearly warmed up and ready for the party ahead. All This Filth were a perfect addition to the show and the professionalism shown by these local legends is unmatched.
Next on the bill was Our Last Enemy, a hugely successful Eastern States Electronica/Industrial band who have spent the last month touring our great country and landed the perfect opportunity to Perform at Incursion’s final Halloween event in Perth. The band introduced themselves to a lively crowd and fired up their performance with the track “Devour the Sun” and the room was instantly transformed into utter chaos. The lighting was synchronized perfectly thanks to Grant El Gatford and as their newest song “Spitfire” was announced, it felt as though the room was being sent through a journey of time and space. The atmospherics were incredible during certain parts of each song and while guitarist Wade shredded some of the best Industrial riffs I have heard, vocalist Oliver was true to his reputation for high energy stage antics and made the most of the small stage, jumping from one end to the other and almost balancing on the stage barriers while covered in blood.
Photographer Outback Bob could be seen every now and then in the pit, probably snapping some insane pictures while trying not to drown in a sea of tightly compressed bodies. The audience could not get enough of this band and as they smashed out some of their popular tracks such as “Wolves of Perigord” and “10,000 headless horses” I couldn’t help but smile at how well suited this band was for the style of event. The band ended their set to the sound of roaring applause and were quick to mention the reputation that Incursion had built across the country. With so much awesome entertainment on offer, it was difficult to disagree with them and their set ended once and for all with hugs and handshakes all round.
One thing I loved about Incursion was the desire to redefine boundaries of the alternative genre which included the introduction of some of the heaviest sounding metal bands across Australia. As such, the draw card for many Metal Heads at this event was the incredibly heavyweights Sanzu and the timing for this ear piercing 5 piece outfit could not have been better. For fans of Gojira, these guys have some of the grooviest and mind-blowing riffs on the market and it is impossible to pigeonhole the kind of sound they produce. Their set commenced like an explosion with the track “Old Orchid Floor” and before long we all knew we were set for a powerful and heavy adventure.
The alternation between the chunky chords of Jarrod and Mike and drummer Ben’s pounding drum patterns leaves you completely wasted and as their set progressed to the song “Those Who Sleep In the East”, my ears were pounding as the truly deep sound relentlessly attacked my inner thoughts until I was completely absorbed by the pure heaviness of it all. Many of the popular tracks from ‘Heavy Over The Home’ were played and vocalist Zac kept everything together with his well suited heavy roars/screams and at one point during their song “Ubiety” it seemed like he was harnessing the energy of thunder itself. As their set ended, it was safe to say that these genre defying Metal prodigies left a heavy mark on the event proceedings and I was proud to see them flying the Metal flag and showing the alternative crowd how it’s done.
As the live bands wrapped things up, the night was still pumping so we headed back down to the Basement to get the full Halloween experience and see what else was on offer. At this point, the dancefloor seemed to take on an energetic vibe of its own and as you look around there is so much happening all around you. Fire performers could be seen spinning balls of fire in perfect time with the music while DJs Volatile, Mith, Raz, Ada and Drastic dominated the speakers with some of the alternative classics of our time. In another corner, Cage Dancers gracefully syncronised their moves in perfect harmony with the music and flashing lights while endless groups of friendly party goers mingled and danced like old friends.
I actually decided to have a go at some dancing myself but being a Metal Head, I am not ashamed to admit that I probably failed miserably compared with some of the seasoned campaigners out there who were in the zone and just killing it. Luckily, the DJs catered for my kind and before long some of the old favourites from System of a Down, Korn, Rammstein and many others made their way into the mix. At one point, promoter Trent let me up into the DJ desk and I stood in awe at the entire scene below me as the crowd chanted and danced with every alternative anthem on the menu. After what seemed like an eternity, the evening finally came to a close with the appropriately themed song “Closing Time” and it is fair to say it was a very emotional goodbye from a loyal fanbase who had religiously attended the annual Halloween events at Gilkison Dance Studio over the last decade.
The Last Incursion – Halloween was an incredibly intimate experience with so much on offer for the senses and I think it will more than likely leave a gaping hole in the hearts of many Perth Punters for years to come. In so many ways it was a step above its predecessor and I can honestly say there was nothing else quite like it in Perth and I am deeply honoured for the opportunity to have been part of these monumental parties over the last few years.
To Trent, Blair and the Incursion Crew…. On behalf of Perth, we thank you for everything and we wish Incursion Alternative Parties all the very best for their future endeavors.
Until then, see you at the next gig \m/
Photos by Outback Bob Photography