HOT! HOT! HOT! HOT! The perfect way to begin proceedings in one of Melbourne’s classic days of heat, and what better venue than Rod Laver Arena. This iconic and august chamber ready to receive a BIG ASS crowd, and some BIG ASS celebrations of the Big Ass Tour.
The crowd are steadily flowing in, sweaty, willing and able to absorb the aural treasure to unfold before us. The Amity Affliction and A Day To Remember shirts adorn the primarily 20ish crowd, albeit somewhat stained with perspiration.
Hands Like Houses hailing from Canberra are first to open proceedings with their killer track I Am, received by the crowd with moshing aplenty.
The crowd, although not yet to the size expected, more than make up for numbers with enthusiasm overflowing, despite the temperature. This crowd amass in celebration, absolutely engaged from the outset, and clapping along to requests from the band.
Hands Like Houses hit the stage with as much energy as if headlining the event. Unrestrained and revelling in their role, the group remember to make mention of the unfortunate circumstances leading to their inclusion. With due reverence made to The Ghost Inside, Hands Like Houses are far from squandering this opportunity. The group enquire throught heir lead as to how many present have heard their music and easily, one third of the assembled launch their hands skyward. Glasshouse, a track from their upcoming release Dissonance, is met with a gleeful reception providing proof enough that their February release is eagerly anticipated. “Our job here tonight is to warm up the crowd so warm the fuck up and bounce, bounce, bounce”. The masses oblige willingly. Our kit master vigorously pounds the drums, just as energetically as our lead guitarist and bassist perform.
Perspectives was warmly received, while Introduce Species proved a crowd favorite with fist pumping right from the start. The impressive lighting and strobe flashes were equally as impressive for the band as for the crowd. Beware world because Hands Like Houses have a taste for this size arena and the sky is no longer the limit. ‘Melbourne is sick!!!’ is met with a roar before the band complete their appearance with New Romantics. Killer performance.
Jonny Boucher, the founder of Hope For The Day arrived on stage to present some welcome sentiments regarding suicide prevention and depression. Hopefully some assembled with their own demons will heed the call to unity, or even guide others to understanding and help. After all, even in the deepest pits of hopelessness, music and events like the Big Ass Tour provide ample evidence that life is indeed, worth living.
Motionless in White ease the ever mounting numbers into their set with a gentle keyboard and strings refrain, before the floating face of our drummer (due to painted neck) takes to the stage, closely followed by the remainder of this exciting a skilful ensemble. Dirty vocals from Chris are met huge screams and cheers from assembled, and constantly swelling crowd. Joshua is reaperesque, robed and hooded in black, with only a painted white face to distinguish him from the darkness. “I am fucking telling you move your god damn bodies”demands Chris, but really the crowd need little encouragement with moshing and circle pits accompanied by crowd surfing celebration of this astounding band. Asked if any Motionless In White fans are present, a mammoth volume of hands reach upward and screams fill the venue. With that Chris provides vindication and acknowledgement by exclaiming “this one’s for you” pointing crowd ward. Immaculate Misconception is pumped out so forcefully that the percussive power could be felt throughout your physical presence. “All my boys in the center right here – that’s what I’m fucking talking about” encourages the crowd even further. In Slipknot style, Motionless In White have so much going on and so much to see, but bring it all together in masterful style. I can only feel a little disappointed for those who missed their performance. Thoroughly thrilling and animated in crowd involvement.
I must admit that Abagail is a personal favourite and to see guitarists, Chris and Joshua head banging in unison was a highlight for me. The excitement builds even further as The Walking Dead theme song introduces more favourites. As the masses are invited to spell out America, our lead exclaims “I would move here if I wasn’t such an ignorant fucking yank. I’d move here in a second”. It seems to me the fans would be pleased with that move. The group pay further tribute to The Ghost Inside and a sensational, yet personalised cover of Linkin Park’s One Step Closer brings the house tumbling down.
Generation Lost is introduced in a techno dance style and the crowd love it, bouncing through set. Crowd surfers physically flying through the air, launching skywards in defiance of the heat and determined not to let energy diminish.
A careful assessment leads to the presumption that we are about 80% capacity and filling quickly, as A Day To Remember are greeted with excited cheers and screams. Coloured confetti explodes from cannons elevating the excitement to a new high. The masses are in moshing unison from the start. No gimmicks, just the music.
The stage was veiled in an ominous foreboding of darkness, sans all reference point before Jeremy inquires ‘How many of you mother fuckers came to dance?’ and the stage is bathed in brilliant light revealing a seething mass of jumping and fist pumping. With some timely band encouragement, the largest circle pit in my memory develops on the floor. This Is Where I Came From is a firm crowd favourite, fervently celebrated by all present. Rolls of toilet paper were thrown out from stage adding to the excitement. I can understand why… It was most thoughtful of the group to understand that none were going to miss any of the show by wasting time in the toilet.
Black stage again as the voice of Macaulay Culkin rings out.
From Jeremy, ‘I don’t expect you to do this because I have heard it is dangerous’ and an explanation of surfing a crowd surfer is more enticement that one pair need to give it a try. Much to Jeremy’s delight, they actually pull it off, albeit kneeboard style, because “nowhere is better at surfing than Australia”. Well done lads, did us proud.
Aussie beach balls appear and are thrown crowd ward to Better Off This Way, followed by Have Faith In Me. Jeremy asks all the ladies to sit on someone’s shoulders “coz this song goes out to all the ladies”. To my amazement one lady obliges by sitting on the shoulders of a dude, who was already on the shoulders of another dude. Yep, Melbourne is nuts.
My Life For Hire is provided an extra expletive in the introduction and dedicated to Soundwave along with ‘one of the best fucking tours’. Shirts get thrown to the crowd and Jeremy comes down to the barrier to say g’day to front row, then a stick figure drawing of him appears on the wall and we are led into a ‘Happy Birthday to Jeremy”.
Kevin and Jeremy provide an acoustic If It Means A Lot To You, providing timely opportunity for a rest, accompanied by lighters and phones providing the ambiance. Then an acoustic introduction to Champagne SuperNova build to the bands return, as the crown sends back the la, la, la sing along
All I Want provides sound track to the crowd reacting in a manner that can be best described, utilising contemporary colloquialisms, as going ape shit. Suitable recharged after acoustics the crowd resume the bouncing and singing back to the band in sensational style. Jeremy requests that he ‘wants everyone to stand and feel the earth fucking shake’ to their finale. An absolute blinder.
Now on to The Amity Affliction. The stage is completely bathed in white light, in itself a contrast to the darkened stage provided for A Day To Remember.
Lights go out and the crowd cheers at unprecedented volume. All attention is to the stage. Thumping on the drums with corresponding white lights, sees the crowd go nuts with hands in the air. The Amity Affliction tracks are sung back at the band impressively verbatim. The crowd surfers start off early demonstrating the monumental popularity of The Amity Affliction. Black and silver confetti rained over crowd.
A circle pit is requested from the band to the pit and a hot, exhausted crowd find more energy to oblige. There is remarkably less crowd movement for The Amity Affliction, perhaps because they are tired, but I really believe that no one was willing to lose their vantage point for this incredibly talented group. The evidence of this is no hesitation in jumping when asked to but moving from their position was not an option. Who could blame the audience for just standing and staring in bewildered awe at the skilful might of Amity Affliction? No huge fanfare here. Just the guys and instruments letting the music speak for itself. Highlights like Chasing Ghosts and The Weigh Down will never leave my memory, and provide a lifetime’s gleeful reflection. That is until next time they visit our shores.
Ample ass is indeed an apt description for this tour and, to our delight much ass was kicked tonight. Big Ass Tour was exactly that and my big ass will happily carry the memories for years to come. Absolutely sensational.