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[Review] I, Prevail @ Big Top Luna Park, Sydney – 28/06/2022

Every time you visit Luna Park, it is a memorable occasion. The massive Sydney Harbour Bridge stands tall above you, the harbour stretching over the horizon, studded with distinctive ferries, and in the distance, the lights of the CBD glimmer. 

In my opinion, approaching Luna Park’s iconic visage never becomes old. Sadly, there is where the walking comes to an end. Around the merry-go-round and to the foot of the mouth, a line of music lovers forms. We are not given an explanation for why the line is so lengthy and remains so long after the show has begun. 

Due to the delay entering the venue, I miss the only Australian band on the bill, Windwaker. Yet from the volume of their shirts in the crowd, all signs point to them winning over many. I made sure to turn on alerts for their next Sydney show to make up for tonight. 

Scanning the crowd this evening there is a real melting pot of hardcore, goths, cyber girls, metalheads and very normal-looking music fans who more than likely came directly from work due to it being a Tuesday night and Sydney’s battle with train strikes. As this show was originally scheduled for 2020, not a single ticket holder was missing out on tonight finally receiving the green light. 

The first of 2 international artists are Pennsylvanian metal titans Motionless in White. Their blood-splattered backdrop hangs prominently as the floor fills with anticipation, and it is packing tight.

The lights descend as the very ominous intro to Disguise emits through the room.  Lead singer Chris Motionless, already a very tall guy, stands on a case at the front of the stage towering over the crowd inciting a huge sing-along to the chorus.
I am blown away by how close this sounds to the recorded version.

No time is wasted as they catapult into Necessary Evil in which the album version features Jonathan Davis from Korn. Second guitarist Ryan is missing, and after a quick social media scan, I cannot find any reason as to why. We hope he is ok!

The band’s theatrical make-up and clothing lift the performance, creating a more dramatic and sinister feel. I’m a sucker for a goth get-up.

Even with a member down, they have the excited crowd in the palm of their hand and as the floor bounces to Thoughts and Prayers, my jaw drops to the floor as I turn to my partner and exclaim ‘another band has to follow this!!’. At this point, I am not sure it is possible.

After a long 5 years since we have seen Motionless on our shores, they are humble and thankful at the reception as they blast through Cyberhex, Reincarnate, and Voices.

The intensity in which drummer Vinny Mauro is assaulting the skins is astonishing, more so that they’re still in one piece! It ricochets throughout the venue and every organ. Bass player Justin Morrow is a fantastic singer and compliments Chris perfectly.

A mix of technical difficulties and vocal strains hinder the tail end of the performance as Chris is obviously struggling but doing a terrific job keeping the crowd happy. Earlier seamless transitions between screaming and clean vocals take a bit of a dive.

For the second last show on the tour, in winter and being a road dog, we can only sympathize!

Having released an album on June 10th, it was nice and fresh as we Aussies are some of the first to hear the new material live. Scoring the End of the World is the new track selected, with many in the crowd already knowing the words.
Closing out the set with the beloved song Eternally Yours they morph into the Boyz II Men of metal handing out long stem red roses to lucky punters close enough to reach.

It was a fantastic set of crowd-pleasers; I’m looking forward to a headline tour of theirs hopefully one day soon.
From the reception, Motionless In White received I was unsure if everyone would be sticking around for the headliner. I am promptly proven wrong.

The stage has transformed as the members fill the stage; it looks stunning! Lead singer Eric Vanlerberghe storms to the front of the stage to begin powerhouse track Bow Down. I, Prevail are a newly discovered band of mine, and I was not aware there were two lead singers. You can imagine my excitement when Brian Burkheiser, who mostly takes care of the clean vocal’s leaps from the depths for the chorus.

They waste no time kicking off Gasoline from 2019’s Trauma, an album jam-packed with hits, I’m hopeful we’re in store to hear many of this evening.

The entire band commands the stage like pros as they cruise through tracks such as Scars, DOA, and crowd favourite Hurricane. While Eric takes care of the lows, and Brian the highs, I’m amazed to see them lower their mics and allow guitarist Dylan a chance to sing and he’s just as good as they are!
Rise Above It appeals to the fighter spirit within, I see people hoisted onto shoulders to sing it loud. This song also holds another talent of the singers, they can rap!
Brand new single Body Bag was recently released on June 17th, resulting in Australians being lucky firsts (just as we were for Motionless) to hear the track live. It is heavy, it’s fast, and just what the pit needs. A shout-out is needed to the lighting crew, just spectacular!
At this point, the crowd would do anything they are told, the energy is electric! A few songs earlier, one of the souls on a friend’s shoulders smashed a shoey in true Aussie fashion. Eric seeks out this bloke to join him in another. There is nothing we love more than seeing internationals take part in this disgusting tradition. 

Their songs are connecting on a deeper level tonight. While we have all been missing live performances, we forget how much of an impact the last few years have placed upon artists. After a short drum solo by skinsman Gabe Helguera the lights soften as a solo Eric walks slowly on-stage performing Goodbye, which may only be a short interlude on their album, yet it flows perfectly into Breaking Down.  Brian takes a moment to speak from the soul. Detailing how hard the lockdown was on him and that he almost gave up, and it was his family in the band that pulled him through. Not only did he speak from the soul, but he is also singing from the soul, the lyrics are pouring from an honest and pure place. I am truly moved. 

The energy is restored with Deadweight a heavy track with a fantastic chorus that the entire venue joins in before the band exit the stage. Earlier that day I saw a meme that said, ‘encores are peekaboo for adults’, as I tell my friends around me about it, Eric returns to the stage saying ‘PEEKABOO’. I had no words. 

With six sold-out gigs, the band is grateful to everyone who came out. Even as the pit splits in two, they continue to rile us up by shouting, “You need to give us a reason to return.”
Come and Get It is the evening’s closing track. Eric tosses in a cheeky ‘Oh wah ah ah ah’ from Down With The Sickness, which instantly makes everyone in the venue smile. The band flies around, side to side, even flipping each other off; there’s a real sense of camaraderie among them, and they’re taking in every minute just like we are.

Throughout I, Prevail’s set, I took up my phone to take notes for this review. I could only stand and watch, unable to put my experience in words.

I was absolutely blown away.

Even without knowing many songs, I enjoyed every moment and the journey on which the songs took us was unforgettable.

Do not sleep on I, Prevail. They are a force to the reckoned with and cannot return soon enough. 

Their new album True Power will be released on August 19th through Fearless. 

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[Review] Northlane @ Enmore Theatre, Sydney 23/06/2022

While standing in the crowd of Northlane’s sold-out show at Enmore Theatre, you can see how many people's ears’ around Australia pricked up when Northlane announced they would be touring the country again, as brought to us with many thanks to the remarkable team at Destroy All Lines.

You can see how much Northlane has grown as a band over the years, having become a universal band across many different groups of people across all of Sydney with an extremely diverse fanbase, possibly the most diverse fanbase we’ve seen at any metal gig.

The anticipation was building while Plini played as the supporting act right before Northlane came on. Northlane showed their support for Plini in return by bringing out a birthday cake onto the stage for Plini, to blow out his candles as the entire venue sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to both the bands on stage together.

Plini performed a dreamy melodic sound with heavy jent tones building into strong metal riffs and back again into the melodic softness. You could see the crowd really appreciated them with hands in the air and cheers of support throughout their set and ending with a huge cheer from the entire crowd.

As Plini finished up their set you could feel the eagerness growing in the crowd for what was to come next. The venue was buzzing with energy. Fans who didn’t know each other began asking each other about what they hoped would be played as part of the set and you can’t help but sense how sorely missed Northlane has been in the Sydney crowd for the past few years.

The first song played on the night can sum up the vibe of the entire show with the first 89 seconds of the opening song ‘Clarity’ from their new album Obsidian sounding off with building techno music with dreamy melodic vocals before erupting into heavy metal at 90 seconds in; opening the first pit of the night with the pent up energy of every Northlane fan who had been waiting years to see them live since the pandemic and what came through, was wall to wall explosive energy.

As the futuristic light show illuminated the entire venue with coloured lasers flying over heads into the back wall of the venue with coloured smoke floating in the purple lights with flame cannons launching into the air, Northlane led the show forward with their next song ‘Plenty’ and it was exactly just that, plenty. Within the first 30 seconds of the song, the crowd exploded again, feeling into the music as much as the band was.

Northlane gave their all to the crowd for the entire duration of the show and the crowd gave it right back, with Marcus Bridges sounding even better live than he does on the record, with the crispest cleans and deepest growls we’ve heard from him yet.

Echo Chamber” was the third song of the night and it fully delivered on the techno-neon show expectations Northlane shared with fans as their intentions for the tour with impeccable production value delivered throughout the show.

Nic Pettersen was playing the drums tighter than a bank safe even per the new drumming style that their new album, Obsidian, called for him to adopt.

Our favourite Northlane hits such as Bloodline from ‘Alien’ and Quantum Flux from album ‘Singularity’ played into the night and as they did, every fan there lived their old-time favourites that made Northlane the deeply loved band they are today. The crowd also followed the charge into the techno-metal future that Northlane is leading with their latest album Obsidian as they explore and pioneer a new space in the metal genre.

The show finished up with everyone in the venue calling Northlane back out to the stage for an encore and the final song played was ‘Clockwork’.

The entire show consisted of techno elements that were supported by the mind-blowing futuristic neon light show that all seamlessly tied in perfectly with the notes of Jon Deiley and Josh Smith on the jent guitars, rocking the entire venue wall-to-wall.

Each song surpassed the quality of the recordings that made us all love them, making this gig something unmissable for every Northlane fan out there.

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[Review] The Bronx @ Crowbar, Sydney 22/05/2022

A cold, dreary, raining night is enough to deter many from the most exciting events. Partnered with a Sunday night, you have a recipe for disaster.
The die-hard Sydney rock fans have completely missed that memo because the Crowbar is filled to the brim this evening, with wide smiles and beers in hand. 

Tonight, we welcome back The Bronx, a punk rock band hailing from Los Angeles, California.
They have been mighty good to Australians over the years, visiting often, releasing plenty of material and even multiple stops in the same city as tonight is show #2 in the same venue. 

Joining The Bronx this evening is Sydney’s off the rails younger brother’s Totally Unicorn. Their energy is unrivalled by most and ensures the crowd is left smiling (and a little confused) at every show, tonight is no exception. 

For $40 you are not usually treated to two international acts, but that is what we got served!
West London’s five-piece Chubby and the Gang, have built their reputation for fast-paced shows that are gone almost as quickly as they begin. They reminded me of the old school snotty English punk, although performed with incredible musicianship. Their brand of no apologies English punk makes me smile imagining this show in a filthy underground venue in their hometown. 

As someone who is used to weekend party shows, I am surprised when the lights go down before 9 pm. The headliner has arrived!

Tribal drumming fills the venue as the band enters the stage one by one. There are no egos, they all walk out ready to work and have a good time.

Vocalist Matt stands at the helm with his signature smile declaring ‘night two, just for you!’.
Is he lulling us into a false sense of security? Absolutely.

A scream erupts from deep within to kick off Heart Attack American and the crowd does not miss a beat to set off a pit. 

His ability to switch between their heavy songs to more melodic is seamless. They waste no time launching into well-known tracks such as Shitty Future, I Got Chills and White Shadow. Guitarist Ken Horne’s view is disrupted by a large stack of speakers but his tone through said speakers is undeniable, the band are tight and plays every song like true professionals.  

A few of the members did a guest DJ set in the venue the night before, after their first Sydney performance. My brother attended and reported that Matt was hoping that night tonights will be the most hungover show they have ever played.
As the band take a quick beer break, he tells the story of stumbling out of the same venue at 4 am resulting in him questioning every life choice later in the day. He raises his beer to the weekend warriors who are returning to work the very next day. Thanks, Matt, you’re the best. 

The Bronx’s music is already so much fun recorded, but live it is a different monster. With big catchy choruses and ‘Woah Oh’s’ that the crowd can join in on really bring the energy in the room up a notch. Superbloom takes off with speed and precision, and guitarist and founder Joby keeps the crowd in the palm of his band.  

The honour system joined the party as singer Matt tells the crowd ‘If you weren’t here last night, you must crowd surf to the next song’. As all Californians do, the next song is dedicated to their home, Los Angeles. We return to their 2003 album for They Will Kill Us All (without mercy) to the crowd’s delight. Arms and legs are seen thrown around the crowd as they are doing what they are told and the crowd surf throughout the small venue. After 20 years as a team, the band have not lost an ounce of energy, vitality, or integrity, with the group still throwing everything into tonight’s performance. 

Former Queens of the Stone Age drummer Joey Castillo, a heavy hitter, brings a huge new dimension to older tracks such as Six Days a Week as well as their newer, more rock ‘n’ roll numbers. If Matt could stand still for a moment, Joey could take out the title of the hardest-working member on the stage, it’s a close one! The set is rounded out by Around The Horn off 2006’s The Bronx (II), as the band exits the stage. The energy is still high and the house lights are not yet on, the encore chants begin and within minutes the band return with fresh beers and even bigger smiles. 

There are a few songs in my mind that I know they have not played yet and greatly looking forward to. Although we are taken by surprise as The Bronx treat us to a Motorhead cover that they have never played before. Their take on Over the Top could make an unknowing listener believe it’s one of their own. As the opening notes of Knifeman are pronounced, we must come to terms that this is the final song. Thankfully, it’s dragged out to allow the crowd and the band to soak up every last moment of this fantastic evening.  

The band bid us farewell, leaving everyone hungry for more. Their last album The Bronx IV was only released last year, yet with how frequently they produce material; we can only hope new work and new dates are announced sooner rather than later. There are a handful of shows left on this tour across the country before they hop over to visit our kiwi mates.
Make sure you get down to a show and have a hell of a time! 

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