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.