It’s an absolute pearler of a day in Canberra after an absolute shit fight of a week, terrible weather, the end of a flat-out week of work and I can think of nothing better than heading home and starting a chill weekend... NOT. It’s Friday and for the first time in a long while we have an international touring band on a weekend!! This is going to be a banger, I’ve been looking forward to it all week, well since i found out we got press passes! Tonight is going to be mega, especially with a stacked line up. Two locals and two internationals what more could you want. I head on down to The Basement for doors at 8 (gotta make sure I'm gonna get in right) for an 8:30 start, lets fucking do this.
You wouldn’t believe it, I can see the run sheet behind the sound desk. A closer inspection says that autumn are to take the stage at 8:30 and as the first notes fly out of the mighty in house P.A and I look down at the time and its bang on. The set kicks off strong, it’s been a while since I’ve seen these local boys play a show and there’s been some line up changes and people moving around and i have to say it seems like it’s for the best. A more well rounded 5 piece stronger sound with the newer front man, Angus Black as well as more well structured songs and a better although not fully polished stage presence was a solid star to the show as a steady stream of late comers start to come through the doors to make their way to the bar and adjoining pit.
Being the opener no matter how many times you’ve had that opening slot is always a tough gig. People just don’t want to move, but about half way through the set both the band and the crowd started to limber up and by the time that Ryan Downs (of local boys Panic Burst) took the stage for some guest vocals, the small group standing in the pit went off and thrashed away to the next two songs and fell to a soft drawn out outro to close the set. The energy in those last two songs on stage and off is that the lads should be aiming for, it would make a killer set. You always get back what you put in. One criticism I do have, those backing vocals boys... the passion is there that’s for sure, but that doesn’t always translate. I’m two beers deep and getting psyched for Honest Crooks who are about to step up to bat as the crowd starts to thicken out even more.
Fresh off the release of their new release 'SUFFER', Honest Crooks have been making the rounds in a big way. They explode on stage, the Crooks have put in the work and are commanding when they take the stage practically forcing everyone I the room to stop and take notice. It’s like a wall of sound smacking the crowd in the face shooting from the stage as boys kick off their set, the crowd is ready and so are THC, the shows about to take a step up and you can feel it in the air. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of seeing Honest Crooks live, it’s certainly an eye opener. I’ve said it before and ill say it again Jerry Chard has one of the most brutal voices of the Australian scene, and its backed by some of the heaviest riffs in their scene.
Both guitarists Calum Johnston and Brodie Graham are locked into each other and the rhythm section of Jesse Green and Lewy Glass are the same proving the best sound track to what I’m watching in front of the stage as the pit erupts when Jerry Chard drops one of the lowest growls heard all night and the breakdown kicks in. Low and slow is the way to go as the pit flails around and the only thing to step the energy up is when it all gets lower and slower. Front man Chard is just fun to watch and almost reminds me of CJ from Thy Art Is Murder with the stage moves, it certainly draws your eye as he rest of the band get to work throwing some brutal tracks in every ones face. I Have a feeling that Honest Crooks is only just getting started, keep an eye out for these boys as I’m sure they will be popping up a lot next year. As the set is about to round out Chard asks the crowd “You Mother Fuckers limbered up yet?!?! Kublia and Acacia Strain are gonna have some fun with you tonight!!” he wasn’t wrong
Kublia Kahn come out swinging for the fences, for anyone who has seen them before it’s what they are known for and what we have grown to love they are incredibly tight and sound fucking huge, the crowd is hyped on it and its obviously feeding the band. Kublia crush through the first few songs leaving nothing to chance and leaving it all out on the stage, and the crowd is feeding it straight back to them. I would just like to add the sound tonight has been amazing, clean and crisp. This is even more evident when Matt Honeycutt starts giving a speech between songs over the top of Nolan Ashley feed back to inspire the crowd and get everyone hyped and it’s certainly working. While I’m watching and listening to this I can’t help but realise this is exactly why I love this music, sending a positive message and creating an outlet for aggression and as if to read my mind Matt Honeycutt starts preaching what I’m thinking right before kicking into “Belligerent”.
This is a perfect example of a hardcore set, it’s almost stereotypical, but no one ever said that was a bad thing, as the set continues the crowd is going nuts in the pit people jumping all over each other only stopping when Honeycutt goes into another speech whether it’s about religion, treating others the way you want to be treated or any of the other positive messages he seemed to be sending out before kicking off into another banger of a track. Its blowing my mind how tight these guys are, as Honeycutt explains they are about to play 8 Years a track they had only played live twice, without missing a beat. The only dampener on this set had nothing to do with the band what so ever, when a small altercation breaks out in the last breakdown when two punters collide in the pit, thankfully after a small scuffle everyone else on the floor breaks it up and both parties leave it where it should be left, the pit.
Here we are the main event of the evening, The Acacia Strain. The room is as dark as it can be as the intro music plays all that can be seen are the figures of 5 people standing on stage and a handful of kids pacing back and forth ready to cause some carnage, unfortunately half the crowd are still outside smoking or at the bar, but by the time the first track is finished everyone is back inside and ready to hit it head on and at full speed, that goes for both the boys from The Acacia Strain and the crowd. TAS are heavy as all fuck, if you didn’t know that already you sure do now, but adding to the insane assault on everyone in attendance ears is the shroud of darkness the entire band is covered in by the dark lights on stage which is just adding to the full effect of the music. Vincent Bennett is an absolute machine and comes out killing the vocals with every scream that leaves his mouth, I guess that’s what happens when you the front man of one of America’s greatest deathcore outfits for 16 years. Oh and by the way if you’re a vocalist and aren’t doing your own cut up vocals by screaming full pelt into the microphone while waiving you head back and forth like a possessed Rottweiler, I don’t want to know about you anymore.
The entire band is insanely tight, the rhythm section of Kevin Boutot and Griffin Landa are on point which is hard to fathom with what’s happening in all these tracks, as well as both Devin Shidaker and Tom Smith killing it on either side of the stage. Kublia’s Matt Honeycutt also comes back out to make a killer guest spot, these two band on a tour together really is a great match for a tour. I think they also share the same ideals as Vincent has a between song speech about true friends and being able to ask for help as the kick into their next track, and Vincent controls the crowd with a single finger making a circle pit erupt. Anyone who has a chance to see The Acacia Strain at any time should jump at the chance. This is how a heavy show should be done every one take notes, what a killer night. Shout outs to all the bands that played and The Basement for being one of the only venues in Canberra still willing to put on live music.
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Kublai Khan The Acacia Strain