Review by Megan Milner
Undoubtedly one of the most highly anticipated acts on the Knotfest line up, are American metal band Bad Omens. Hot off the back of a sold out US run, they’ve stopped in early for 2 side shows – mere days ahead of their festival appearance. Last night in Brisbane at the Triffid and tonight at the Factory Theatre in Sydney, will be celebrated as the first every Australian shows for the four piece. Both Brisbane and Sydney performances sold out in less than a minute, leaving many begging for tickets up until show day.
A last minute addition see’s melodic hardcore band, Bloom kick off the night to a sold out crowd. The Sydney boys played their hearts out, lifting the energy early on, creating many new fans. The line for Bad Omens merch snaked back to the entrance, luckily for those patience folks they had a great show to watch! Each member of Bloom was gracious and spoke of being very fortunate for the opportunity to share the stage with tonight’s headliner. Closing out their set with Cold; dedicated to anyone who knew the band before tonight.
The energy in the room is electric and tense, each one of the sold out crowd eagerly awaiting the band we all came to see. Bad Omens trajectory in the last couple of years is undeniable. While they may have been an established act, the release of their 2022 album The Death of Peace of Mind saw their popularity sky rocket to unimaginable heights. Minutes before their scheduled 9pm arrival, the lights dim and pre recorded audio fills the room. Lead singer Noah Sebastian appears on stage dressed in a trenchcoat and gloves, wasting no time starting Concrete Jungle, with drummer Nick Folio.
The volume of the mostly female crowd is immense, we have been impatiently awaiting the arrival of Bad Omens to Australia and we finally have our moment. The stage lights lower again, Noah leading the band back to the stage in a balaclava for Artificial Suicide. It’s one of their heavier songs and one I absolutely adore. Headbangers fill the floor and the pit starts early, packed in nice and tight. Guitarist Joakim Karlsson and bass player Nicholas Ruffilo tower over the crowd on either side of the stage. Their long hair and axes in hand create a menacing image!
Nowhere to Go gives the crowd a chance to open up those vocal chords and sing along. With a huge chorus, this has been a fan favourite since release and one of their top streamed songs. After three tracks all from their latest album they take a break to speak with the crowd, appreciating each person in attendance for their first Sydney show ever. Noah explains their next track, Glass Houses is the very first they ever released, the crowd sung in unison right to the end.
The breaks between songs seem to grow longer and longer, while the fans try to fill the silence with chants for the band, and of course, for shoeys.
The Grey begins acapella, as I look around the room to see multiple fans pouring their hearts into the lyrics, ‘gave you way too many chances, you ran through ‘em all’.
After yet another long break with no stage lights, Noah walks to the centre of the stage to apologise. He’s experiencing vocal issues and is concerned he won’t be able to perform the show we all came to see. It comes as a real surprise, as he has been sounding fantastic from the first note. ‘We are going to try do one more song and go from there’, Noah reluctantly confesses. As the band throw themselves into Mercy, the energy has altered on stage and in the crowd. Less punters are moving, you can almost see them holding their breath, hoping for the best while Noah has clear signs of frustration. The band get through the song before disappearing once more.
This time the break is longer than previous, the chants dissipate and our concern grows. The house lights come on as Noah returns to the stage once more to explain that they are here for Knotfest and believes if he continues tonight, he will damage his voice to the point that he may not be able to perform at the festival. Concern for his voice aside, he announces he will play the track ‘most of you came to hear’, Dethrone. The crowd roars, but a few are confused as it is their heaviest track and will not do any favours to a strained voice.
Regardless, he kicks off Dethrone with the ‘CONCRETE! JUNGLE!’ mantra and makes it through the track before departing the stage. The band delay leaving to hand out guitar picks, setlists, drum sticks and shake as many hands as possible.
Nobody expected tonight to turn out the way it did. Mixed feelings can be found at the Factory Theatre's bar, including regret over just witnessing 8 songs and an understanding, sympathetic heart for Noah's voice, fortunate for seeing the songs we did get. We definitely anticipated a lengthier show tonight from Bad Omens after waiting so long, especially since all three Knotfests only allowed for half-hour sets at a midday time slot.
We wish Noah all the best back to recovery and hope he can get up on stage at Knotfest for all 3 performances!