Photos by Dylan Martin
This was a performance to behold.
They don’t stack lineups like this often. Three of the biggest heavy acts from three separate continents on one bill, topped off by one of the most promising up and coming acts – it was bound to get wild.
Opening the night in ferocious style was Melbourne’s own Pagan. Following a huge 12 months that saw the four-piece release their debut album and take it around the world, they have cemented their spot on this stacked bill. Vocalist Nikki Brumen was an inimitable force out front. As she crawled and somersaulted her way around the stage, belting through their set, the rest of the band matched her energy with ease. Their self-described blackened rock’n’roll was the perfect warm-up for what was still to come.
For the uninitiated, what came next was completely unexpected. Entering to a light show rave soundtracked by an EDM breakdown, Japan heavy metallers Crossfaith had well and truly arrived. Their electronic-metal fusion is something that needs to be experienced live, and their transitions between headbang-inducing breakdowns and club-ready electronics had the quickly-growing crowd enthralled. “Do you like heavy music? What about electronic music?” asks vocalist Kenta Koie midway through their set – and if crowd reception was anything to go by, we’d guess they really like Crossfaith.
Bursting onto the stage with last year’s comeback single ‘On My Teeth’, Underoath wasted no time in ensuring the audience knew they’re here. All frontman Spencer Chamberlain had to do was raise his hand and a sea of arms shooted into the air in unison. Dipping into their catalogue to deliver fan favourites like ‘A Boy Brushed Red’ and ‘Writing On The Walls’ as well as a healthy dose of Erase Me material proved the perfect balance for this eager crowd. As a unit, Underoath are a sight to behold – tight, ferocious and explosive – and with every circle pit and wall of death that erupts, the crowd thanks them.
If the night ended here, most of the crowd would’ve left sweaty and reasonably satisfied. But then The Amity Affliction landed on stage to take things to a whole new level.
How do we decide if a band has “made it”? Is it their use of mid-set pyrotechnics? The ability to take a break for a drum solo and still hold an arena’s worth of attention? Is it the hundreds of phones held in the air, on record, at any minute? Because here Amity had all of that in spades.
But take away all those superficial observations, and what you’re left with is an arena full of hands in the air, of voices singing at the top of their lungs to songs that have soundtracked various stages of their lives. And a band who now – after years of grafting the local scene and smashing international stages – could not deserve it more. Seven albums deep and there aren’t many (if any) bands that can challenge Amity for the mantle of Australia’s biggest heavy band right now.
Storming onto the stage with ‘Drag The Lake’, it was clear The Amity Affliction meant business. In an arena this big, an Amity Affliction gig might not have ever felt more intimate or united. Every song punctuated by thundering singalongs, from oldies like ‘Anchors’ (“If you don’t sing along to this one, we’ll never play it again,” shouts frontman Joel Birch) to less roadworn singles like ‘Ivy’, ‘Don’t Lean On Me’ and ‘Pittsburgh’. And throughout it all, Birch couldn’t look more grateful if he tried.
During ‘D.I.E’, he jumped into the crowd to get amongst the action, and for emotional encore ‘All Fucked Up’ Birch encouraged punters to “hold onto their friends” – only growing the community and unity that has followed The Amity Affliction’s music for the last decade-plus.
Oh, and if you were wondering, their new single ‘All My Friends Are Dead’ absolutely rips live, so don’t expect The Amity Affliction to slow down any time soon.