Headliner: Sienna Skies
Supports: Aburden, Resist the Thought, Isotopes, Days of Deceit, Cambridge
Date: 28 September 2019
Venue: Crowbar Sydney
Presented By: Vita Music Group
Photos: Nathaniel Burns
- Cambridge -
Starting off the night was Cambridge with a sound that was nothing short of a massive call-back to old school pop punk. Sonically, Cambridge were absolutely on point. The band delivered with a perfectly balanced, crisp sound; every member cutting through the mix with tight, in-the-pocket performances. Additional band-wide vocal harmonies simply served to be the icing on the cake and sounded fantastic. Front-man Brad Smith does the attitude of punk justice; with an energetic, animated performance where you can expect to see mic tossing (and catching, of course), mid-song banter and rocking out on the stage floor!
On the topic of stage presence however, most of the band were quite lacklustre in this facet unfortunately. Aside from some visually pleasing synchronised head banging, not enough was done to really grab the crowd’s attention, and a majority of concert-goers seemed to stand back in hesitation for most of Cambridge’s set. I gotta say however, drummer Scott Young looked ready to outright murder his kit at times throughout the set and that was pretty sick.
- Days of Deceit -
Days of Deceit were up next with a sound that was wildly heavy and expansive, albeit a little unbalanced. I couldn’t help but notice that the lead guitar overpowered the rhythm guitar, and as a result some of the potential groove seemed to be buried. Fortunately, frontman Jarrod Schilling’s performance was simply incredible in every single way; strong stage activity and perfectly punishing vocals made for a display that was both visually and vocally satisfying. His engagement with the audience between songs felt genuine and confident; emphasizing the undeniable importance of love and equality prior to ‘One Love’, and always staying inspired to pursue your passions prior to ‘K.I.D’, which closed the set.
Now whilst Days of Deceit’s tightness was incredible for the vast majority of their set, it seemed that in a few instances towards the end, things became a little bit sloppy rhythmically, the band falling slightly out of time with the drums on the odd occasion. The set also sometimes suffered additionally from a lack of stage cohesion, and members seemed to be in their own world at points. Their sound is dynamic, monolithic and satisfying, so there’s a wealth of potential moments for badass visual cues that would really work in Days of Deceit’s favour if implemented effectively.
- Isotopes -
Taking to Crowbar’s stage next were Isotopes, serving up a satisfying dynamic that pits punishing hardcore riffs and breakdowns against massive, anthemic melodies and instantly memorable hooks. Now this isn’t my first Gig Report write up with these guys, but to summarise, Isotopes have never ceased to knock it out of the park. Led by a confident frontman Justin ‘Millsy’ Miller, they are a force of both sound and genuinely great stage activity. Having filled in for an absent Aburden (for medical reasons) up in Brisbane just the night before, the quartet really had their work cut out for them, and although they pulled through to deliver a truly awesome set, there were a couple of small hiccups this time.
During the first couple of songs the bass seemed to be incredibly dominant, drowning out a lot of the other roles, especially guitars. It wasn’t too much of an issue for the majority of the set however, as this seemed to be adjusted quite quick. Towards the latter portions of Isotopes’ set, Miller’s clean vocal delivery seemed to weaken from time to time, barely cutting through the mix, strongly contrasting his harsh vocals, which were essentially flawless from start to finish. Now despite this, Isotopes were still wildly entertaining to watch. Band energy was through the roof and everyone was incredibly cohesive. Stage space awareness was perfection and the band knew when to interact with each other on appropriate cues; whether it be synchronised jumping, the occasional spin or just good old fashion head-banging! Much was done to hype the audience, and it definitely showed; everyone gathering to the front floor in hype as the set continued, and this was maintained until the end.
- Resist the Thought -
Let me preface by saying that Resist the Thought’s introduction tonight could only be described as something of a deathcore barrage on your perception of sound and heaviness. Don’t mistake this as an insinuation that everyone else tonight has not/will not delivered in comparison, but holy shit, would I hate having the task of sharing the stage with these guys and doing it justice! Front man Rhys Giles stood tall, emphasised with a stage light and platformed before an eager crowd ready to split the pit for some maniacal action. The quintet was alight with frenetic stage presence, sold all the more by Giles incredible stage presence and vocal performance; bearing an attitude that gave me some serious hints of a Randy Blythe inspiration, but cranked to 11. Every component of the sound was alive and vicious, their drums in particular were one of craziest, most intimidating sounds I think ever heard at a local live show. Resist the Though nail the sheer rhythmic intensity of deathcore, and with an abundance of blast beats, squeals and tremolo picking, this is heaviness in perfection.
- Aburden -
Arguably the most interesting and dynamic addition to the lineup was Melbourne’s Aburden, shaking things up with a deeply emotional flavour of Melodic Hardcore. It became abundantly clear from the start that this wasn’t going to be quite as sonically heavy as the previous few acts, frontman Mason Forster expressing facetiously “don’t be scared, we’re the softest band on tonight”. But honestly, for whatever heaviness wasn’t present in their sound, Aburden more than supplemented that with raw, gritty emotional intensity that choked your heart strings dead. Presenting a sound that was wide, dreamy and spacious, Aburden excelled in constructing a hypnotic atmosphere, and the occasional burst of pure heaviness served to add a certain duality to their performance, and I loved all of it. Forster OWNED the depth of emotion in every single moment; embracing character and personality alongside an impactful, mutant, half screamed/half spoken vocal performance; emphasising deep personal themes through simple, yet equally heartfelt lyrical phrases like “I’m sorry!” for example. His screams were honest, unhinged and truly powerful, instantly reminding me My Ticket Home’s frontman Nick Giumenti. Additionally, the inclusion of live keys further drove the spirit of Aburden, Forster maintaining his energy and character as he sat down to play from time to time. Guitarist Kyle Burrows’ clean vocals were fitting and memorable, the two vocalists bouncing off each other’s energy effectively, whether it be in unison, or more of a call and response moment. In summary, they mightn’t have been tonight’s heaviest act, not by far, but Aburden still blew me away for all the right reasons!
- Sienna Skies -
Curtains hung across Crowbar’s stage, an audience eagerly awaited Sienna Skies, full of hype and anticipation. As ‘Commence’, the intro track of "Truest of Colours" began to play through the speakers, shouts and applause erupted. The curtains began to clear the stage and a seven-piece Sienna Skies emerged from the stage-side stairs, entering with joyous grins as a nostalgic atmosphere filled the room before beginning the set with ‘Worth it?’. The collective seven of new and old members (including vocalist Steve Faull and keyboardist Matthew Wells) gloriously brought the stage to life, easily making themselves the most energised display I’ve ever witnessed at Crowbar! Performing "Truest of Colours" in full, as well as exploring a few key moments from albums "A Darker Shade of Truth", "Seasons" and "The Constant Climb"; Sienna Skies constantly delivered something that was truly breath-taking in every moment and every element. The band hit that perfect sweet spot wherein they’d managed to maintain their classic sound, whilst using the additional members to their sonic benefit. The dynamic between vocalists Steven Faull and Thomas Pirozzi in particular was simply beautiful, badass and perfectly intense. As the latter portion of their set drew onwards, bassist Josh Wade took the time between songs to recall key shows from their past, asking if anyone had seen them before at Hot Damn or the Blacktown Masonic Centre, no doubt to be met with a thunderous response from a room of nostalgic fans. Some massive set highlights included ’Breathe’, an acoustic track which Sienna Skies had never played prior to this tour, ’Daylight Through the Nighlife’, met with crowd clapping and chanting, ‘Sea of Smiles’, in which they invited their original drummer Luke Ziomek to help close the set, and what really needs to be said about their cover ‘Fireflies’ by Owl City?! Absolutely phenomenal set!