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[Review] Of Mice & Men, Metro Theatre, Sydney 24/02/2024

Two nights ago I was in Sydney for another gig and it was hotter than Satan’s armpit. Last night by comparison, I was wearing a hoodie, beanie, scarf and was still shivering! I also decided to brave the public transport system, since the train would be (and was) filled with a slew of Swifties, and also a smattering of Blink 182, Slash and Of Mice & Men fans, I figured it was safe to travel late at night.

Upon arrival at the venue, there was a growing line of black band tee shirts. Security staff came out to gather up those who had booked in for the Meet & Greet while the rest of us waited patiently to be let in.  The clock struck 8pm and doors opened. The floor area filled up quickly and I headed upstairs to find a seat with a view.

Bang on 8.30pm post hardcore 5-piece Sydney-siders, Sienna Skies take to the stage.  The bass guitarist did the harsh vocals, the drummer sang the clean vocals and the lead singer switched between both. Considering the limited amount of space they had on the stage, they played a very high energy 30 minute set which included singles, Even Stronger, brand spankin’ new release, Mess, Divided and finished the set with Let It Burn. They informed us that they are about to drop a new EP later next month and will be back doing their own headline tour in May.

After a timely gear changeover, we welcome alt.rock / metalcore 4-piece Melbourne band, Dream On Dreamer. With over 50 million streams and ARIA nominations, it’s easy to see why these guys were chosen as support band. They performed another high energy set which got the crowd moving and moshing with songs such as, Stay, Don’t Lose Your Heart and the new release, G.O.D. in the set list.  After an invitation to meet them at the merch stand, they leave the stage for the crew to prepare for the main act.

Hailing from So-Cal USA, RIAA gold record certified metalcore band, Of Mice & Men entered the stage to loud cheers and applause and opened their set with two 2014 bangers from their album Restoring Force, Bones Exposed, followed by Would You Still Be There, and then new song,  Castaway by this time the audience were singing along loudly, heads nodding furiously in time with the music. Then they played my personal fave, from their 2021 release, Echo, the single, Obsolete. Vocalist Aaron Pauley stopped to thank the audience for choosing to come to the Of Mice & Men concert stating that he was aware of all the choices available in Sydney that night, so the band are beyond flattered that the audience had chosen them. He then announced that it was time to play something heavy and that the next song was from their latest album, the mosh pit opened up and a circle pit ensued as they played Warpaint. Next up was another new track from Tether, current single, Indigo, then Pauley introduced the next song as a favourite of his from their latest album as they played, Into The Sun and then 2019’s Earth and Sky. Pauley asked if there were people in the crowd who had seen Of Mice play before to loud cheers in response and then he announced that it was time for OG and the audience shuffled back and a space was cleared in the centre of the floor, several people did back flips to cheers and applause, and as the band started playing OG Loko the circle pit began growing into a juggernaut of bodies. They played Instincts from 2018’s Defy album and then Pauley addressed the audience once again dedicating “the next song for anyone who is feeling grief”.  He explains that grief is that pain that’s right between the heart and the lungs, it’s the pain you feel when love has nowhere to go and leads into 2021 single, Bloom.  The set was rounded out by 2012 classic, The Depths.  Pauley thanked the Sydney audience again and the band left the stage for a minute or two, then returned to loud cheers and applause from the crowd as they played fan fave from 2010, Second & Sebring. Setlists, picks and sticks were tossed into the crowd as we all shuffled our way out to George Street.

It’s probably a strange thing to say but I noticed that the Of Mice stage set is so neat and tidy. After the support bands, everything except the OM&M drum kit was cleared off the stage. The drummer is positioned centre at the back and there are three risers placed at the front of the stage. The guitarists tend to stay on their own sides while vocalist Pauley moves around but mostly remains front and centre. In-between songs there is an ambient synth hum track played while guitars are changed and adjustments are made before commencing the next song. It’s like watching a well-oiled machine working. Of Mice & Men put on a well practised, professional performance, no doubt about it.

I mention these things as I’m coming off the back of just seeing another band two nights before in the same music genre but their performance was so different by contrast. Still professional and practised but the approach was far more relaxed and interactive with the audience.

What I did miss from OM&M was the presence of a human bass guitarist rather than a track, but so many bands appear to be taking this approach now. Overall though, Of Mice & Men perform their songs with such intensity and passion, taking the listeners along for the journey with them. Their songs inspire some of the most intense and somewhat aggressive looking mosh pits I’ve seen in ages, yet lyrically their vibe is dare I say, emotional and heartfelt. This dichotomy is fascinating to experience in a live setting – from a safe vantage point. I loved this concert for almost totally opposite reasons that I loved the concert from the other band two nights earlier.  If you get the opportunity, go check out Of Mice & Men.

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[Review] Corey Taylor @ Metro Theatre, Sydney 28.11.2023

As a millennial Metalhead, few artists have been as prominent in my heavy music journey as Corey Taylor. Whether you know him as number eight the masked madman in Slipknot, the charismatic unmasked frontman of Stone Sour, affectionately as ‘The Neck,’ or the constant query in headlines and comment sections – ‘but what does Corey Taylor think?’ – his impact on the music world is undeniable. Tonight, we are lucky to see him stripped back, in an intimate setting performing a little taste of everything he’s ever been a part of ahead of his appearance at Good Things Festival.

Tonight, Taylor is backed by Clay J Gladstone, a regular on Sydney’s local AM//PM club circuit, delivering a punk rock emo fusion. Described on their Triple J Unearthed profile as a must-listen for fans of Violent Soho, The Used, and Stand Atlantic, Clay J Gladstone captivates audiences with their ‘heart on sleeve’ lyrics, emotive earworm bangers, and intense performances. Corey himself, recounting on stage, bestowed significant praise upon Clay J Gladstone, noting that while every potential support band that came his way was rubbish, Clay J had something truly special. You can’t get much more praise than that!

Not the weeknight or the pouring rain outside could dampen the energy of the jam-packed, sold-out show at Sydney’s Metro Theatre tonight. The anticipation is intense as “Corey! Corey!” chants begin before the house music fades away – this crowd is ready, unwilling to wait a second longer.

The band takes the stage first, launching into an auditory onslaught with precision. Mr. Taylor himself bounds on stage shortly after dressed in a suit jacket, kicking off Post Traumatic Blues from his latest solo album, CMF2. All five band members sport smiles by the end of the first song, clearly bewildered by the enthusiastic reception from the Sydney crowd. The time machine then transports us back to 2002 with a Stone Sour deep cut, Tumult. Since the inaugural Good Things Festival in 2018, Australia hasn’t witnessed Stone Sour live, making the revival of these songs nostalgic as many of us thought we wouldn’t hear them again!

While our love for Corey’s bands is undeniable, we are here to see him on his solo run. Strapping on a guitar he kicks off Black Eyes Blue which is such a beautifully crafted song bordering on ballad which had the crowd singing in unison. To everyone’s delight, they pull out a song for the couples (and bromances) in the form of Song #3 by Stone Sour. I wasn’t sure if he was being serious when he asked, ‘I hope you remember this one’. Multiple members of the crowd drape their arms around a loved one and sing it loud! I cannot wipe the smile off my face seeing Corey so comfortable on stage, his smile stretches ear to ear, interacting with his band members who all share the same energy and happiness.

In a brief break to chat with the crowd, Corey teases, saying “before I forget,” prompting a roaring response. Playing along, he asks if he’s missed something, building anticipation. After some playful banter, he declares, Before I Forget as the next song. Having seen Slipknot twice this year at Knotfest in Sydney and Download Festival UK, experiencing Corey sing this iconic track unmasked in an intimate 1,000-pack venue is unbelievably special.

There are few songs that artists turn their nose up at and flip off the crowd but that’s exactly what Corey does before dropping his head and giving into the peer pressure to play the Spongebob Squarepants theme. Quickly shortening the rendition, before asking if he can sing a song he actually enjoys playing, emotions were immediately switched on and turned to tears, to the sounds of the Slipknot heartbreaker Snuff.

The hits keep on coming, such as 30/30-150 and Through the Glass by Stone Sour, Midnight and Beyond from his solo work, it’s incredible that each projects songs are easily distinguishable. Usually when you have the same vocalist, they can be similar in style, although each are expertly crafted offering something different. The onstage chemistry between Corey and guitarist Christian Martucci is mesmerizing. Christian, who permanently joined Stone Sour in 2014 as Jim Root’s replacement, exhibits a seasoned partnership with Corey matching energy, bouncing off each other all night, Taylor even changes lyrics to praise his buddy.

After a brief intermission, the band returns for the encore. The unmistakable riff of Duality by Slipknot fills the room, as the venue begins to shake. Despite having just four members on stage, their performance echoes the intensity of the full nine (minus the keg). The night concludes on a high note with a cover of INXS’s Don’t Change, a choice Corey hopes won’t be considered meandering, expressing his love for the Australian band.

The sweaty, happy crowd pour out of the venue all raving on about a different part of the set which was their personal highlight. Collectively we know we witnessed something special tonight, treated to almost flawless renditions of songs we’ve cherished for over two decades. Corey was incredibly heartfelt with his thankyous, telling us that the reception he continues to receive is the reason why we are one of his favourite destinations on earth to tour.

Tonight’s performance was the first of 4 in Australia and if you are heading to Good Things over the weekend, catching Corey Taylor and co is a MUST. You will not be disappointed! I will be speaking about this show for a very long time.

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[Review] Kisschasey @ Metro Theatre, Sydney 14/05/2023

Review By Samantha O'Neil

More than 20 years after they formed in Melbourne, two times Gold Certified Australian rock band Kisschasy are back on tour. After a successful appearance at Good Things Festival in 2022, 7 years after their last national tour, Kisschasy announced that all four original band members – lead vocalist Darren Cordeux, bassist Joel Vanderuit, guitarist Sean Thomas and drummer Karl Ammitzboll, would be coming back together to do it all again country wide. 

The band originally announced 9 shows, stopping in at most major cities, as well as Wollongong, Newcastle and Torquay. However due to overwhelmingly high demand, the final tally of shows came in at 15, and now included stops in Perth, Tasmania and Gosford, with most shows completely selling out. 

Friday’s show is the band’s second Sydney show, the first taking place back on the 3rd of May, and was added as a response to how quickly the first round of tickets sold out. The first show was held at Crowbar in Sydney’s Inner West, while Friday’s show was hosted at the laudable Metro Theatre. With its cozy ambience, it is the perfect setting for fans to gather and enjoy one of Australia’s most iconic, but relatively short-lived acts. 

The clock strikes 8pm and punters file into the venue, many racing to find their spot in front of the stage while some stop at the bar and others heading straight for the merch table, whereupon any purchase comes a free CD from Cordeux’s current band, Daz & the Demons. 

Opening the night was Melbourne based singer-songwriter and self-proclaimed ‘Australian mutt’ Bec Stevens, who was followed by Adelaide’s up and comers Towns, who brought their unique blend of flavours, most dominant being 90’s pop punk and Australiana. 

While the openers were a delightful look at talent being produced in Australia right now, by the time their sets were over, the thrill in the air was palpable. Looking around, the crowd was conspicuously older. Having been out of the spotlight for so long, it seems like the people in attendance were all there to take a mosh down memory lane, which felt special. A room full of people bonded by the fact that over 15 years ago they listened to a band that really led the way in bringing this particular brand of pop rock to Australian audiences.  

Finally, the lights go down for the last time and before you can say Perfect Way to Meet, the band is on stage and the show is underway. An impeccable choice of opening track with its first lyrics drawing parallels to the last few hours and what’s about to come. 

Two hours ‘til doors

With my patience running short

I am shaking in my seat

As I grind my fucking teeth

While I would have paid good money to see Kisschasy perform their second album Hymns For The Non Believer backwards, forwards and sideways twice over, the setlist is littered with the best songs from it. The lesser known, but haunting nonetheless, Ugly Birds In A Beautiful Cage appeared around the middle of the set, while the other tracks from HFTNB were top and bottom heavy.  The band played 3 tracks from their third album Seizures, and a handful of tracks from United Paper People, including a fan favourite Face Without A Name which had the crowd unsure whether to dance or mosh. 

Towards the end of the main set, Vanderuit, Thomas and Ammitzboll exited the stage, leaving Cordeux to perform a few songs on his own, first of which was The Shake. To the crowd’s surprise and pleasure, Cordeux is joined on stage by Australian pop royalty Amy Shark to perform Dinosaur, on which her smooth vocals complement Cordeux’s, as if they were always meant to be there. Cordeux ends his solo slot with the beautifully eerie Black Dress

The final 3 songs Do-do’s and Woah-oh’s, Spray On Pants and Opinions Won’t Keep You Warm At Night play like a dream. The crowd seems to morph into one entity, a sea of people moving together, completely at the whim of the music. Closing out a night of good old Australian pop rock and musical nostalgia, Opinions Won’t Keep You Warm At Night steals the show by an overwhelming margin, transporting everybody to a time when its timeless lyrics and angsty beat lived rent free in your head. 

Not only has the tour been successful, it put their first album United Paper People back on the Aria Charts, coming in at #8 on the 24th of April, for top 10 Australian Albums. As well as this, they released a special edition vinyl of UPP, which hit #2 on the charts for top 10 vinyl albums. The fans, as the band put it, ‘revived an album released 18 years ago’, so it’s not surprising that part of what made the show feel so special was the frenzy of passion emanating off the crowd. 

Having never had the chance to see the band perform live while they were still together, their 2023 reunion did not disappoint. Their stage presence and energy really filled up the room, providing confirmation that these guys are still seasoned pros. With as much angst as they had 10 years ago, the only way you can really tell that it’s 2023 Kisschasy is from the band’s matured looks. No more are the daggy long sleeves and scarves, instead replaced with stylish tee’s and button downs. Opinions might not keep you warm at night, but Kisschasy sure will. 

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[Review] In Hearts Wake @ Metro Theatre, Sydney 28/04/2023

Review By Samantha O'Neil

The year is 2006, Google is buying YouTube for $1.65 billion, Pluto is being downgraded from planet status and 5 friends from Byron Bay are coming together to form a band which they would call In Hearts Wake.

They were likely unaware that 17 years later, as established heavy weights of the genre, they would be touring the country, playing their first studio album Divination from front to back to celebrate its release 10 years prior.

I’m sure they weren’t thinking that on an otherwise uneventful Friday night in April 2023, the band would be playing their first show of the Decade of Divination Tour. That they would be headlining at the legendary Metro Theatre in Sydney to a room of people who have come along that night to re-live an album that seemingly means as much to the fans as it does to the band.

Sporting an impressive list of opening acts, the show got started with Australian bands The Gloom In The Corner, a metalcore band from Melbourne and Diamond Construct, a metal band based in Sydney.

Third on the roster was Stray From the Path, a hardcore punk band from Long Island, New York. Fronted by charismatic Drew York, Stray From the Path were exceptional. SFTP had a look and a sound that was straight out of the heyday of the punk era with a stellar performance, worthy of its own headlining tour. Their high energy had the crowd completely transfixed the entire set, York even stopping the show at one point to make sure everybody knew that whoever you are, you will always be welcome at a Stray From The Path show. They were the perfect choice to warm up the audience.

As captivating as they were, eventually Stray From The Path had to wind down their set to make way for the main event. The stage transition was so smooth and efficient, giving the crowd only just enough time to grab a drink from the bar before the lights were down again and the final ride was about to begin.

All of a sudden, someone in a reindeer onesie appears from the left of the stage with a cardboard sign and a handwritten message that says, ‘Make some noise’ and the crowd complies. Guitarists Eaven Dall and Ben Nairne, bassist Kyle Erich, and drummer Conor Ward all emerge on stage and the reindeer rips off the head to the onesie to reveal that of vocalist Jake Taylor smiling underneath.

Almost immediately, they begin the first song Neverland (The Star) and it is mere seconds before the entire crowd is jumping.

Somehow it feels like no time has passed before they arrive at track 8, Shapeless (Judgement). Taylor begins speaking of the love and appreciation that the band has for the people they have made music with and without revealing what is to come, the crowd seems to know exactly what he’s saying. They start to chant. ‘Adrian, Adrian, Adrian’ and just as if the crowd had summoned him, Adrian Fitipaldes appears. Taking a break from his new career as a psychologist, the former vocalist of fellow Australian heavy metal band Northlane takes the stage with IHW to reprise his feature on the track, and it is one of the standout moments of the night.

Other notable moments include the impromptu game of capture the flag mid show and the extra 7 songs outside of the Divination track list that the band performed, their energy not waning for a second. 

In live music, a lot goes into the overall experience. The venue, the openers, the energy of the performers and the vibrancy of the crowd will all affect the feeling you get when you walk away from the show. Whether by design or by complete accident, all the ingredients were mixed together to perfection, to create the type of gig you hope never ends, where each song bleeds into the next and you never even think to check your watch because the time seems to just disappear.

Music can be such a unique and multi-faceted tool. Not only does it give the artists an outlet of expression, it can also be a sanctuary to those who listen, the lyrics potentially providing somebody their first instance of relating to something, of being understood. It can make us realise that we’re not alone in the world, and upon further research, it would seem that is exactly what Divination was to a lot of people. The intimate feeling of the Metro Theatre is superb at providing the perfect setting for the band to deliver such a special show, celebrating an album that even after 10 years, means so much to the fans.

In Hearts Wake ‘Decade Of Divination' Tour

w/ Stray From The Path (USA)

The Gloom In The Corner

Diamond Construct

 Tour Dates:

Thursday 4 May 2023 – Max Watt's, Melbourne

 Friday 5 May 2023 – Unibar, Adelaide

Saturday 6 May 2023 – Metropolis, Fremantle

Tickets from inheartswake.com

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