Filed under: — Bravus @ 10:24 am

Cassie and I went to The Zoo in Brisbane last night to see Swiss folk metal band Eluveitie on their first Australian tour. It was a week night and we were both pretty tired, but we’re delighted we made the effort, because the show was amazing. If you get a chance to see this band live (and you like metal), do!

We’re going to do a joint review, in which I’ll share my impressions and Cassie will complement them with hers, but she’s a teacher and in class today, so this post probably won’t be completely finished until tomorrow.

David: First support was Brisbane melodic death metal band Before Nightfall. I really enjoyed these guys: super-tight band, loads of shredding. Probably the closest touchstone is Children of Bodom, but they’re in the genre of most of the other melodeath bands (who are not Opeth) like In Flames and Dark Tranquility. Twin-guitar harmonies and ripping solos, and a wide variety of songs with different tempos and styles, some massive mosh-alongs. Lead singer-guitarist1 has a screamy-growl like Alexi Laiho rather than the deep death growl, and while it works well for the style of music it ended up being a little monotone, particularly given that a lot of the songs had a lot of lyrics. Both the other guitarist and the bass player stepped up to a second mic to growl along deeper at some points, and more light and shade in the vocal style would have maybe complemented the music better and made for a more dynamic listening experience. Great energy and connection with the crowd, though, and in general a skilful, speedy, heavy band.

Cassie: This band was very good and I quite liked the music they played but the vocalist was hard for me to handle so I found it really hard to get into the music. I find that screamy vocalists are very off-putting and distract from how good the music was.

David: Second support band was New Zealand’s Alpine Fault, who are a symphonic power metal band in the Nightwish and Beyond Temptation vein. I’d expected to see a violin-playing female vocalist as well as the male vocalist, but the two roles were separated, with different women singing and playing violin. The songs were rich and complex, with mellower and heavier sections including some pounding rifferama. The band connected with the audience well, particularly the male vocalist, and watching the band was very enjoyable. There was one weak link, but I’ll let Cassie talk about that.

Cassie: This band was very good and they had almost everything going for them, except one thing. The female vocalist completely let them down for many different reasons:
1. She was dressed as a typical, club-going, party girl which did not fit the rest of the band or the genre of music at all. I know there is not much I can really say on this subject as I do not really look the part of a metal lover but I am not the one trying to act the part. A part of being on the stage like that is the spectacle of the show so you must be able to look the part.
2. Her singing was very weak and a bit pitchy, she was not nearly as powerful as the music that she supposedly being the front of.
3. Her presence was not very powerful either, she was awkward and difficult to watch as she was not able to grip the crowd as much as the female singer from Eluveitie. Her dancing was a bit clubby and not very metal, and her head-banging seemed forced as if she felt she had to do it rather than really feeling it from the music.

Minor editorial comment: in fairness, apparently she has only been in the band a fortnight, so she may improve with more road and rehearsal time.

David: Eluveitie were just astonishing. I know a couple of their albums quite well, which always helps, but Cassie didn’t know their music at all, and still loved them. I’ve been to a lot of great gigs – Queen (with Freddy), Pink Floyd, Opeth (3-4 times) and all the Big Four. Some shows just have a ‘this is something special’ vibe about them. Tool, a couple of weeks ago, was a very enjoyable show, but didn’t have that. This – a much smaller2 band in a much smaller venue – did. Very folky and very heavy – you’re left in no doubt that this is extreme metal – and a real sense of performance and occasion. Lead singer/growler has a heap of range, and does more of the screamy thing sometimes and a deeper growl others. Stops to play bagpipes or one of several tin whistles holstered on his mic stand frequently. The female vocalist and hurdygurdy player (!) does amazing rich, deep, powerful clean vocals and takes solos. The band normally has 8 members – two guitars, bass, drums, hurdygurdy, vocalist and one guy who does bagpipes and tin whistles, plus a violinist. The violinist was ill and not playing, and the music didn’t noticeably suffer, but the violinist from Alpine Fault joined them on stage for one song. The band has been on the road for more than a year, and this shows in their tightness and stagecraft. Just a compelling, engaging experience. Despite the fact that there was only about 15 feet between the stage and a staircase, they initiated an insane circle pit, and there was plenty of headbanging and pogoing along.

Cassie: This band was amazing!! As dad said this was the first I had really heard of them and I had no idea what to expect going in. The male vocalists did have some screaming, but he also had growling and singing, that is the variation that the first band was seriously missing in their vocalist.

I was sitting on a banister to watch this band for the first half of the show which was amazing, because I was able to see the entire band. I was asked to get down by the security, which was really sucky because after that point I saw nothing and was almost squashed by a circle pit.

David: The pit was pretty intense. At one point I stepped in front of Cassie to protect her. In most venues there’s space for the 5″2′ people to stand back from the pit, but there wasn’t much room. Not hostile at all, and I saw people being picked up and protected, although one guy looked like he got a foot broken by an accidental stomp.

Amazing show. If you get a chance to see them, do, and if we get another chance we’ll be back.

  1. This is an impressionistic review of the experience of the show, rather than a researched review in which I look up the names of band members, histories of the bands and so on…
  2. At least in terms of mainstream exposure – twice as many members, though!


Signs of the Coming Revolution

Filed under: — Bravus @ 3:06 pm

Here’s a great article: and I say ‘Viva la revolucion’!



There *is* a difference

Filed under: — Bravus @ 5:52 pm

… between the Abbott-led Coalition and the government on education policy. And it’s huge:



Parker Palmer’s ‘The Courage To Teach’ – Don’t teach without it

Filed under: — Bravus @ 5:05 pm

Currently re-reading ‘The Courage To Teach’… and it’s so freakin’ good!!!1! It says everything I feel and believe and want to say about teaching – my vocation – and so much more.

I want to quote the whole book on Facebook.

I would go so far as to say that, despite all our best efforts in teacher education programs, you’re not fully prepared to be a teacher until you’ve read this book.

I’m committing myself to re-read it once a year… and recommending it to everyone.

Not even gonna try to summarise here – just read it.


On Almost-Laissez-Faire Parenting

Filed under: — Bravus @ 2:42 pm

Alex sent me this excellent article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2013/may/04/leave-them-kids-alone-griffiths

The title and blurb are not quite right: the article suggests the opposite of ‘leaving them alone’ for babies and toddlers, in order to get them to a point where they can be independent (and left alone) later as they grow up.

Does sound pretty much like what we did in parenting – lots of affection, not a lot of control, and the explicit goal of making them self-reliant people.

Seems to have worked for us, though Cassie and Alex might want to comment. 😉


‘Austerity’ is based on false premises – and plain doesn’t work

Filed under: — Bravus @ 1:39 pm


Violence is easy, *empathy* is difficult

Filed under: — Bravus @ 1:34 pm

Very good article about Orson Scott Card: http://www.salon.com/2013/03/07/end_game_for_orson_scott_card_partner/

This para in particular struck me, though, and applies much more broadly than to Mr Card:

Democracy is empathy. It is being able to see the rest of society as people just like you are, whether they agree with you or not. It is about not ruling at the barrel of a gun, but explaining to others the way you feel, bringing them around by letting them inside. By getting them to feel what you feel, which is the very definition of empathy. There are those who think that the failure of the world to agree with them, and their embrace of violence as a solution, somehow makes them the strong ones and the world the weak ones. But violence is such an easy solution, the emotional coward’s way out of actually dealing with the existence of those who disagree as legitimate equals.

Like Eating? You Should Be Concerned About Climate

Filed under: — Bravus @ 1:31 pm

(although, really, most people reading this will get to eat – they might just pay more. It’ll be the global poor who starve…)

Report from the Guardian on the loss of arctic ice, which is occurring much faster than predicted1: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/earth-insight/2013/may/02/white-house-arctic-ice-death-spiral

OK, the words ‘death spiral’ in the title may be a touch hyperbolic…

  1. Tell us again how ‘climate change stopped in 1998’. I dare you.


[Open] Caution – Experimental…

Filed under: — Bravus @ 10:26 am

Last lecture for 7801EDN – Teaching and Learning in the Middle Years – today.

I decided to try to do a better job of ‘practicing what I preach’. Here’s a list of ‘signature middle years practices’ from one of the lecture PowerPoints earlier in the course:

  1. Higher order thinking strategies
  2. Integrated and interdisciplinary curricula
  3. Negotiated, relevant and challenging curricula
  4. Heterogeneous and flexible student grouping
  5. Cooperative learning and collaborative teaching
  6. Small learning communities and sustained individual attention in a safe and healthy schooling environment
  7. Strong teacher student relationships with extended contact with a smaller and consistent number of teachers
  8. Authentic and reflective assessment with high expectations
  9. Democratic leadership and shared governance
  10. Parental and community involvement in student learning

Given that many of the students are mature age students and parents themselves, the last one might be a stretch, though more community involvement would have been good.

Despite these aspirations, what have we been doing? Big lectures with PowerPoint in big lecture theatres. There are reasons for that, but I’m not sure they are good educational reasons. They have more to do with the traditions of universities, and with costs and scale and models…

Of course, these are adult learners, not adolescents, so it does make sense that there are some differences in the way we teach.

But for today at least, I’ve decided to eschew PowerPoint, and largely eschew lecturing. The hour and a half we have for the class session will be broken into three 25-minute segments, and students will be able to choose to focus on one of these topics in each session. Not the whole class, just all those interested in that topic will band together and discuss it for the 25 min. This means there will likely be several groups involved in different activities at the same time.

Each student will also be tasked with noting the most revelatory thing s/he hears or says in the 3 sessions, and we’ll randomly report back a few of those at the end (names in a hat at the beginning of the session for randomness).

It will be messy, potentially risky, and draw on the students’ knowledge as much as on mine, but hopefully also rich, engaging and educational… and modeling some of the things we hope our students will facilitate with their students.


Panem et Circenses

Filed under: — Bravus @ 10:18 am

‘Bread and circuses’ – it was the Roman poet Juvenal’s diagnosis of the malaise of Rome in about 100 AD. The emperors kept the people’s bellies full and kept them distracted with entertainment, and the people didn’t get engaged in the important affairs of the republic (or was it an empire by that time?)

Not for me to judge others, and I need to look in the mirror, as ever, to identify my own circuses, but it seems to me that if all your outrage is being used up on two girls who say ‘babe’ too often, you’re unlikely to have any left to notice that Tony Abbott’s policy platform is the full Reverse Robin Hood…