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[Review] Boston Manor & Movements @ Croxton Hotel, Melbourne 19/03/2023

At first, I was hesitant of going to a late-night gig on a Sunday night. Afterwards, I couldn’t imagine a better way to spend a night. I left The Croxton sweaty, red-faced with sore feet, but feeling oh-so alive and energised. What a treat it was to see emo heavy-weights Boston Manor and Movements back-to-back, with strong support from underground Australian gem, Bad Juju.

Walking into The Croxton, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the venue so full for a support act. The room is alive and buzzing, Bad Juju hyping them up so much it’s unreal. A pit is open in the middle of the mosh, and young men are throwing punches and kicks into the air. Bad Juju bark out a single instruction; “Bang your fucking heads”, before launching into Disappoint. The five-piece are absolutely killing it on instrumentals, working very much as a unit, and it shows. Finishing with Bloom, from their first EP Hidden Desire, they left that room hungry for more. Expect big things from these Melbourne hardcore beginners in the years to come.

Next up are Blackpool natives, Boston Manor. Even at soundcheck, the drums are so loud I swear my eardrums are about to burst. The stage is suddenly bathed in red and orange light, and they play the haunting, titular track of their newest release, Datura. There’s a “calm before the storm” energy flowing in that room. We all know it’s about to go hard, but when? Boston Manor have us completely under a spell. Front-man Henry Cox is not one to mess around. As the song draws to a close, he screams into the microphone, “Melbourne! Take some steps forward. Come on! Come on! Let’s fucking go!” He is giving us everything he can, hair sticking to the sides of his face already. The crowd seem a little hesitant to go full-out, and Cox can sense that, and won’t stand for it. “I know it’s a Sunday, but wake the fuck up, it’s the last day of tour. Open up a pit in the middle. First person to mosh wins a free t-shirt!” And then, he repeats again, “Let’s fuckin go!” They wind their way through Datura, the crowd is starting to go crazy. Halfway through the set Cox takes a minute to address us again, “This next song features an Australian, John Floreani.” Floreani comes onstage to sing Liquid with them. Having gone to high school in Newcastle, I have a deep love for Floreani (maybe our most valuable export), and audibly gasp. There is a chill in the room, and we all stand very still, in amazement. The crowd cheers along with me when the track finishes, and then immediately start yelling “Shooey! Shooey! Shooey!” Cox quickly shuts us down; “God, so original you Australians. John said if you do one once, you’ll be made to do it every time. I’ve never done one, and I never will.” And so, with some mumbling and grumbling, we settle down. The standout moment of Boston Manor’s set is the track, You, Me and the Class War. “A lot of our music is inspired by where we’re from.” Blackpool is the worst city in England for poverty, and so the political rage and personal-nature of the song, come out of the band with such intensity and ferocity – like they are starting a revolution in that room. Halfway through the song, right before the screamy, heavy and intense bridge, Cox takes a minute to once again bark instructions at us.

“Alright, I need you to split this room in half.”

We all know what’s coming – The Wall of Death.

“I promise you, it’s fun. A few rules,

  1. Don’t be a dick
  2. Care about each other. If someone falls pick them back up.

And the secret third rule,

  1. Have a lot of fucking fun”

It’s immediately clear to me that the band cares deeply about safety and respect at their shows. I have always found emo and hardcore moshes to be wonderful spaces of unity, community and controlled aggression. At the front of The Wall are some big guys, shirtless, and some of the smallest gothic girls in Hellraiser platform boots. Worthy opponents.

Then, the build starts.

This ain’t love / This is a class war.

People shuffle from foot-to-foot, ready.

This ain’t love/ THIS IS A CLASS WAR.

Cox screams into the microphone, lights strobe, and the crowd runs, full-force into each other. It’s electrifying. Any reservation or fatigue we felt at the start of the night is gone. We are going for it with everything we have – and so are they. They finish with a reminder to buy merch from smaller bands, to go to local gigs, to keep having nights as thrilling as these, we have to keep independent music alive.

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing Movements’ front-man, Patrick Miranda. He was very chatty, introspective, sensitive and calm when we spoke. I’ve been a fan of Movements since their conception, and I knew this was going to be a special night for me, and for everyone. We were in Miranda’s hands, and I trusted him to take us for one hell of a ride.

I wasn’t wrong.

The Orange County band comes onstage. Miranda steps forward and grabs the microphone, “You know what Australia is known for? Going fucking crazy at shows. I need you to move up, move up, move up. Fill this room up and get ready to show me what you can do.” I’m now three rows from the front, sticking to the people around me, toes crushed, and electrified.

They start off strong with Third Degree and wind their way through a collage of songs from their various releases. Bookmarking the set, was new release, Cherry Thrill. It’s pop-ier than their previous songs, but Miranda was delighted about trying out a new sound for the band when I spoke with him. The crowd was not disappointed by the change. People were dancing at a hardcore show; spinning, and singing along. Next up, was Full Circle. A favourite of mine, and the rest of the crowds. Whatever space and reprieve we had before was gone. We were now clamouring over each other to scream these lyrics at the band. Miranda turns the mic towards us, and a wave of sound echoes back at him.

Without a struggle there can’t be progress/ ‘Til it comes around again

Miranda has openly struggled with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Depression, but expressed his reluctance with me to become a “martyr” or a “spokesperson” for mental illness. He is not a martyr to us; he is one of us. Movement’s lyrics understand us, all of the feelings we think we have to face alone. As I scream with a chorus of other voices, all of them heavy with feeling, heavy with the pain and grief and love and redemption; I realise I am not alone. That is the power of Miranda’s lyricism and of Movements musicianship.

 It comes in waves/ and I’m pulled below/ It’s not subjective, it’s clinical

 I love very few things the way I love Daylily, the iconic track from Movements 2017 release; Feel Something. The track was released in my last year of high school, and I’ve spent many years since screaming those words into my pillow or in the car. It helped me through those years of being very young, very angry and very sad, and brought me here – still young, but only a little angry and a little sad. I’ve never known someone who shares my same affinity for Feel Something. And then, suddenly, I was in the middle of it. Surrounded by other sweaty bodies, jostling, and jumping, all of us turning red, giving ourselves tinnitus, and bursting veins to scream along:

But the sunrise will come again/ And you’ll be just fine / You’ll be just fine.

 We are such a chorus, in fact, that lead-singer Patrick Miranda, points the microphone to us several times during the song, a little grin coming onto his face. He grabs an old-school video camera to film the crowd, and I see people’s hands turned into hearts, boys trying to crowd-surf, and everyone pushing as far forward as humanly possible. We are a single body.

When Movements finish, and the night is done, the song A Thousand Miles by Vanessa Carlton starts playing. Its piano intro is so silly, the song itself basically a meme. And I am so emotional seeing all these people; goths, business wear dads, surfer bros and any other members of the rag-tag crew that was there tonight. All of them, with tears down their face, drenched in sweat and emotional liberation, sing along to such a silly song. They hold hands and link arms and skip or kiss each other on the cheek. I am overwhelmed with joy. I don’t think I’ve ever had sweeter dreams.

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