Vola and Voyager at The Garage in London
On a lowly September night, I was back in The Garage. An iconic London venue where I’ve previously seen Haken and… The Wurzels. Certainly a bit of contrast there. But today was a headline show from Vola with Voyager coming along for support.
Four Stroke Baron opened up the show as a three-piece with a short set. They were a fun opening act, but I’m not familiar with their music aside from their display this evening. I did respect their effort to tour with an MXR Talkbox pedal – although I was disappointed that it only got used on one song. Hopefully next time I catch them live they’ll get weirder with it!
Voyager were up next, and I’d not caught them live since their show at Space Rocks in 2018. It’s always great to see these Australians on this side of the planet, and this time they crafted together a killer set. Short, sweet, poppy, and heavy.
They’ve really upped their stage game since I last saw them live, bringing up an enhanced light show which allowed Daniel Estrin on lead vocals to wave around oversized glowsticks to really lean into that 80s aesthetic blend that the band pulls off oh so successfully. Makes for a huge difference from their show at the Camden Underworld in 2017 where they were faced with power failures because of incompatible voltages of international equipment. I love to see the professionalisation of their shows and that they’ve ironed out any technical issues to bring a BIG live show to an ever more eager audience.
Catching ‘Dreamer’ live was a real treat. For those not in the know, earlier this year Voyager competed to represent Australia in the Eurovision song contest with this track. Sadly they didn’t make the cut in the end, but existing fans of the band got a brand new banger to enjoy – and catching this performed in the flesh really made me question the musical tastes of those in charge of the Eurovision selection, but alas I guess not everyone enjoys this genre of music. And boohoo them.
And finally to headline, Vola.
The band’s 3rd album ‘Witness’ was released last year during the pandemic to a great reception from their fanbase. From a purely sheltered viewpoint from talking to friends, it really feels like this was the big breakout album for them that has accelerated their career. And rightfully so, because it is full of pure pop prog bangers.
Opening with a softer track ’24 Light-Years’, the crowd were ready to ‘Witness’ the band’s first headline London show since the before times. The band quickly followed this up with ‘Alien Shivers’ and ‘Napalm’, before jumping further back in their discography with ‘Stray the Skies’ from ‘Inmazes’.
As the night went on, they brought out all the fan favourites – hit single packed to the brim with heavy breakdowns like ‘Head Mounted Sideways’, as well as softer tracks – and even an acoustic rendition on ‘Enter’.
I was over the moon when they played my absolute favourite song ‘Smartfriend’. There’s something about the breakdown in that song that actives the neurons in my brain in such a way that floods dopamine throughout my body. That tied in with shoving some friends around in the pit really made it a special moment in the evening.
In fact, I was very firmly in the mosh pit for the majority of their set, and found it difficult to escape because so many of the band’s songs groove perfectly well for smashing one’s body around to really get some internal organ damage going on a Thursday night – and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
There was a great energy in the crowd that night, and the only way is up for Vola if they keep up with the momentum and energy of their last two releases, and continue putting on killer live shows such as this one.