Jessica Holton • 26 June 2012

The small room never had a moment in which magenta smoke was not billowing from the stage, setting the scene for the haunting performance that was to come. The heat of a drawn out bass chord lit the air in anticipation Kirin J Callinan to begin his Sydney leg of his WIIW tour. Kirin seemed timid at first, but that was soon disproved as his surgeon masked band began to play.

Reminiscent of a young Nick Cave with his ghoulish stage presence and baritone vocals, the synth pushed the limits to the crowd’s ears, but it seemed purposeful, almost testing how much the crowd was able to stand before they could break.

WIIW’ featured crashing bass and deep vocals, and it was trance-like and incredible to see the gothic mastermind at work. The theme of the set was darkness, this was best exhibited in the synth work that tumbled around the room in a tornado of sound. ‘She’ reached new heights of synth and the screeching – it was a form of masochistic torture that tip toed along the line between pleasure and pain.

Skittish drums appeared before the mood became subdued and minimal, almost spooky as Kirin clutched his guitar and sang sweet sorrow into the microphone.

Callinan had an interesting report with the crowd, almost apologizing to them as he told them of his pain that he had to take his jacket off before his intended time, because it was so hot. A regimented and kooky character, although you could read the vulnerability in his voice as soon as he began to sing, which was best shown with ‘Mary’. The music was ambient and created a wild atmosphere with such minimal elements.

The electronic drum was a stand out piece of the band and provided the right scary beats to compliment the set. Callinan reiterated that the set was meant to be all about precision. That is exactly what it was. There was a militant vibe, with regimented beats provided by Callinan’s band of soldiers. The only time that the band lost control was with the permission of Callinan. Only then did screeching guitar turn the venue into an earthquake, reflecting how raw the music could be.

‘Thighs’ was a stand out of the night with Kirin singing almost a capella with only the strumming of a guitar to keep him company. His voice became the true centerpiece of the set and it was impossible to not become enthralled with his fascinating vocal range.

Kirin gave the crowd a musical eulogy, a funeral of sounds – the music was something you would lose yourself in, only to wake up days later wondering where you had been.

Kirin J Callinan laid us all down on a carpet of black roses that night, and we willingly gave up our minds to the pure gothic genius of the man. Intense.