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[Review] Good Things Festival @ Centennial Park, Sydney 03/12/2023

Review By Megan Milner

As the sun-drenched skyline of Sydney welcomes the much-anticipated Good Things Festival, 2023, it is quickly evident that music fanatics from all walks of life have converged upon Centennial Park. Following a wild kick-off in Melbourne yesterday and a sold-out anticipation for tomorrow’s climax in Brisbane, the festival has become a vital bond for fans eager to immerse themselves in an eclectic blend of international and local musical talents. With a lineup that reads like a rock and alternative music lover’s dream, featuring headliners Fall Out Boy, Limp Bizkit, and DEVO, alongside powerhouse acts like Bullet for My Valentine, Corey Taylor, and I Prevail, the air is charged with excitement and the promise of an unforgettable day. As the festival gates swing open, the collective heartbeat of the crowd echoes the anticipation of a day of music that transcends genres and unites enthusiasts under the banner of Good Things.

Although Centennial Park may not be everyone’s preferred festival venue owing to its location and accessibility challenges, there is a distinct advantage that emerges as you make your way in. The unmistakable sound of the main stages, today featuring Enter Shikari’s Sorry You’re Not a Winner, can be heard during your approach. Fortunately, my entrance into the festival proved remarkably straightforward. After a leisurely stroll along the park’s perimeter to the sole entry/exit point, the lines moved swiftly, and the security guards were notably friendly. Describing the sensation upon passing through the festival gates is a task in itself—there’s a deep exhale, a wide smile, and a palpable excitement as you contemplate the day ahead.

One of the bands I am most looking forward to are Russian deathcore goliaths, Slaughter to Prevail. Each band member appears on stage in the iconic ‘Kid of Darkness’ masks, lead singer Alex Terrible in gold and the band in silver. Opening their set with Bonebreaker the crowd kick into to mosh mode and it doesn’t slow for the remainder of their set. Alex’s monstrous vocals have been covered many times by online media, though none as much as his alligator growl in their latest single Viking, released in July this year. We all know it’s coming and there was a communal gasp when he did it, followed by loud cheers and headbangs! They take a short breather to thank the crowd for their first trip to Australia, before wrapping up with Demolisher. Sydney has one more chance to see them on Tuesday December 5th at Liberty Hall, before they pop over to Adelaide for their final performance in Australia on December 6th at The Gov. If you missed their festival set, don’t pass up the opportunity to witness Slaughter to Prevail in such a close setting.

Perth’s Make Them Suffer have the difficult task of following Slaughter to Prevails set on the adjoining stage, although Aussies tend to support their own – as the crowd fills quickly. Opening with Ghost of Me, they have the crowd moving before they can even get a drink of water. Their set list was really well crafted and flowed perfectly, their final songs Erase Me and Doomswitch were evidently crowd favourites.

The day and the heat were well underway as I take shelter under the trees for a moment catching up with friends new and old at every turn, because of the very scattered genre line up it really is a reunion of many people not seen in one place often! A few breaths and a cold beer later, its time to head back into the sun and the pit for Brazilian metal legends Sepultura. Derrick Green is an enormous tank of a man who commands the stage from the first note of Isolation, quickly followed by the 1993 classic track Territory. Sepultura have one of the strongest bands in the game with machine gun in human form drummer Eloy Casangrade, bass wizard Paulo Jr and everyones favourite shredder, Andreas Kisser. Their set was a good mix of current days Seps and Cavalera-era tracks including Arise, Ratamahatta and of course closing with Roots Bloody Roots.

Before racing off to see Slipknot front man Corey Taylor on the mainstage, I hear British metalcore act While She Sleeps begin their set, I suddenly feel very torn! Hearing the crowd scream back the intro to Sleep Society I know I have to stay. Lead singer Lawrence ‘Loz’ Taylor is full of energy, not staying still for more than a moment. I was surprised to hear Anti-Social as the second track, and I was not alone as others dance around beside me. The tracks I did hear from While She Sleeps were great, and thankfully they announced they will be returning to Aussie shores next year with new material – I need more!

Time to dash over to the main stage for Corey Taylor. If I hadn’t seen Taylor and co earlier in the week at their Metro Theatre side show, I may have stayed for the remainder of While She Sleeps although I had far too much fun and look forward to seeing them again. I arrive as he is wrapping up his first song Post Traumatic Blues. The setlist unfolded with a mix of Stone Sour and Slipknot hits, including Through the Glass, Tumult, Snuff, and the iconic Duality where a man in a Corey mask headbanged beside me. Taylor surprised and delighted the crowd with unexpected twists, such as a rendition of the SpongeBob SquarePants Theme, a main stay in his solo performances, showcasing his playful side in which he is still flipping of the crowd with a smile on his face. Their set concluded with a heartfelt cover of INXS’s Don’t Change. Corey was in this same park in March for a sold out Knotfest where Slipknot headlined, we are thankful he has returned so soon.

Next up on the main stage to our left are the Welsh metallers, Bullet for My Valentine, who were long overdue for a visit, last appearing at the very first Good Things Festival in 2018. The crowd had significantly swelled, and security guards had their hands full as crowd surfers and moshers flooded in during Your Betrayal. The setlist was stacked with hits, featuring favourites like 4 Words to Choke Upon and Scream Aim Fire. The nostalgic journey reached its peak when the entire crowd joined in to sing their hearts out during All These Things I Hate (Revolve Around Me) and Tears Don’t Fall. Vocalist Matt Tuck wore a continuous smile, expressing gratitude to the enthusiastic crowd and acknowledging that it had been too long since their last visit. He assured everyone that Bullet for My Valentine would be back in 2025, which is already too far away!

You could not have asked for a better band to continue the energy, than I, Prevail. They immediately took command with Bow Down as the energy surged through the crowd setting the tone for a huge performance. The setlist was a rollercoaster of intensity, featuring crowd favourites such as Hurricane, Choke, and the powerful Gasoline. I Prevail’s dynamic stage presence and seamless transitions between heavy hits showcased their mastery of the genre. A standout moment came with their unexpected cover of System of a Down’s Chop Suey injecting yet another momentous amount of energy into the already puffed out crowd.

One of the surprising additions to the line up are American new wave artists from the 70s, DEVO who are currently on their Farewell Tour celebrating 50 years as a band. From the opening notes of Don’t Shoot (I’m a Man) to classics like Whip It and Mongoloid, DEVO’s quirky energy and synchronized movements captivated fans old and new. The setlist, including hits such as Jocko Homo and Gut Feeling (Slap Your Mammy), had the crowd dancing from start to finish. Good Things organisers tend to throw in a wild card, and it’s safe to say DEVO were it this year!

I quickly ran over to stage 3 to catch Polish extreme metal band Behemoth. From the ominous chants of Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer to the relentless fury of Conquer All, Behemoth’s performance was a primitive journey into the depths of extreme metal. The setlist, featuring intense tracks like Ov Fire and the Void and Bartzabel, showcased the band’s mastery of dark atmospheres and ferocious arrangements. Frontman Nergal’s commanding stage presence and guttural vocals added a menacing layer to the performance, while the crowd was immersed in the occult and apocalyptic themes of Chant for Eschaton 2000. Behemoth’s set was a testament to their status as one of the most influential and uncompromising forces in the extreme metal scene and a great addition to the day.

The sun was setting over Centennial Park and many sunburnt faces finally took a sigh of relief. As the sun descends, it means it is headliner time and it is now time for nu metal master’s Limp Bizkit! Opening with the explosive Break Stuff, the crowd immediately kicked into gear. Hits like Rollin’ and My Way had us all singing along, showcasing the lasting appeal of the band’s anthems. A standout for me was Show Me What You Got from 1999’s Significant Other, quickly showing the old school fans in the crowd rapping every word flawlessly. Guitarist Wes Borland is always a showman with his movements and more so, his outfits. Today is no exception as he dons an ornate mask with teeth hanging from the jaw (originally buffalo teeth but weren’t permitted in the country), and a white suite adorned with flowers and Scandinavian designs. He was first spotted with this new stage outfit in Japan, it’s great to see in person.

The setlist featured a energetic mix of old favourites such as Nookie and My Generation, and their classic cover of George Michael’s Faith. Frontman Fred Durst’s charismatic stage presence and the band’s tight performance was perfection as Sam Rivers, John Otto, DJ Lethal and Wes Borland were back together once more. The set concluded with a powerful reprise of Break Stuff, leaving the audience on an adrenaline high and cementing Limp Bizkit’s status as influential trailblazers in the fusion of rap and rock. This will be an incredibly hard act to follow!

Fall Out Boy are the festival headliners this year and the crowd is packed in tight, ready for the pop rockers. Opening with the infectious energy of The Pink Seashell and transitioning seamlessly into the anthemic The Phoenix, the band set the tone for a night of unbridled enthusiasm. Classics like Sugar, We’re Goin Down had the audience singing in unison, showcasing the popularity of Fall Out Boy’s signature blend of catchy hooks and emotive lyrics. The setlist also featured gems like Love from the Other Side and Uma Thurman, the latter cut short due to an impending storm.

“Please bear with us for a moment. There’s a storm approaching,” bass player Pete Wentz explained amid a chorus of confused boos from the crowd. “We’re informed that we need to pause the show momentarily. We’re hoping to resume real soon. Your patience is appreciated; we’ll be back shortly.”

However, in a matter of moments, at roughly 8:40pm an announcer over the PA system urgently instructed us to evacuate immediately due to the imminent threat of a hailstorm.

“We have a hailstorm approaching with large hailstones and lightning,” the announcer emphasized. “We kindly request an orderly evacuation of the site. Please avoid rushing and move away from the structures for your safety.”

I didn’t hear a confirmed number of fans in attendance today, although I was told it was close to 25,000 of us were all ordered out a single exit with the skies flashing above us. The storm felt imminent as announcers said the festival will resume after the storm, although in a statement posted to the Good Things Festival social media pages after 11pm stated the decision to evacuate was made by police, the State Emergency Service and event organisers.

I was extremely fortunate to see each band I set out for, although I know many weren’t as lucky with the early cancellation of Pvris due to illness and headliners Fall Out Boy cut short. The band posted a statement to social media, promising they would “make it up to” Sydney fans.
“Sydney, we’re bummed that last night’s @GoodThingsFest set got cut short due to the weather. We’re working hard to figure out how to make it up to you, stay tuned. ❤️” – Fall Out Boy

Ultimately, my time at Good Things Festival 2023 was truly fantastic! The short lines at the bars, food stalls, and water stations made the day incredibly smooth, letting me fully immerse myself in the music hassle-free. The diverse lineup featured bands at the top of their game, with Corey Taylor, Bullet for My Valentine, and I Prevail delivering main stage energy performances, alongside the iconic presence of DEVO and the heavy vibes from Behemoth. Thankfully the issues with low sound from last year were rectified and my personal highlights were the nostalgic rap-metal hits of Limp Bizkit and the raw power of Slaughter to Prevail. Good Things Festival, though relatively new since its debut in 2018, (and two years lost to Covid) has become a staple event for alternative music fans, and I’m already looking forward to what 2024 will bring!Top of Form

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[Review] Electric Callboy @ Hordern Pavillion, Sydney 30/11/2023

Review By Raelee Atkinson

Choo-Choo … climb aboard and let's ride the Tekkno train …

This time last year, Good Things Festival was in full swing and the German band formerly known as Eskimo, now Electric Callboy, took to the stages of Australia, wowing crowds and winning over new fans.  A few months later in February 2023, a headlining tour of Electric Callboy was announced and it was met with much excitement. It took no time to sell out and the venues were upgraded to house more fans, and again the entire tour was sold out quickly.  The buzz around this band has kept going throughout the year as they have been travelling the globe with their Tekkno World Tour.  

I’ll admit, I’ve been so excited for this concert that I’ve been counting down the “sleeps” like a kid waiting for Santa. 

Finally, its a balmy Thursday night and we’ve just fought off the peak-hour traffic and arrived in Sydney’s Moore Park, the location of the Hordern Pavilion, to be met by an eclectic sea of black clothed metalheads and neon attired techno-heads. Electric Callboy’s genre-bending mix of metalcore and EDM attracts an interesting demographic ranging in ages.  

Bro and I nick across the street to the pub for a quick pre-gig feed of French fries and a lager, then passed through the security check to the awaiting hordes. We joined the long line for merch that snaked its way around the outdoor area that enclosed the Hordern, eventually got our tee shirts and entered the venue. We were early so we were able to get up pretty close to the front. 

At 7.30pm it was time for the first support band, Future Static, a five piece band from Melbourne. Future Static are a fusion of alt rock, indie pop, and metalcore with a dash of prog for good measure. They have recently released their first full length album titled, Liminality. After a minor ‘false start’ they hit the stage running with an energy reserved for the young. Spinning like a dervish, lead singer Amariah Cook's clean vocals are lovely, then she surprised with some filthy harsh vocals and injected so much emotion into her performance. Bassist, Kira Neil complimented Cook’s vocals with some sweet harmonies and gave an indie/alt vibe to the performance. There’s three dudes in the band, but to be honest, apart from a random thought that they were good, the focus was on the women, who put on a great show.

Four songs into their set, they played a cover song titled Gasolina and I realised that this was the band that my brother had sent me the link to three times. I turned to him and he's grinning. Future Static entertained the growing crowd with a cracking 30 minute set, which included Waves, Venenosa, Chemical Lobotomy, Gasolina, The Hourglass, Roach Queen and Dead End

The next band up is Stockholm-based, Self Deception. The Swedish foursome enter the stage and it's obvious that there are sound problems. The singer isn’t singing in tune (and I know he's an experienced and talented singer) and every time the bass hits there’s a horrible vibration and popping sound emanating from the speakers which hurts my ears.  Part way through the second song the singer, Gabriel Keyes, better known as the current vocalist for fellow Swedes, Crashdiët, stopped the band and said that they are having ‘technical difficulties’. Roadies scattered on the stage looking busy while the bass player, Patrik, chatted with the crowd and announced that he’d like to do a “shoey”. It’s an obvious distraction that overseas bands seem to think Aussie audiences enjoy. The crowd cheered him on and then the band re-commenced by playing Scandinavian Dream. The sound is still horrible, so again the crew scamper on stage trying to “fix” the problem and this time the bass guitarist suggests that the guitarist, Ronnie, do a “shoey” now, again, the crowd cheer him on but it's getting awkward, thankfully Keyes, the singer took over and explained that they’d had a dreadful day. That their flight from Melbourne had been cancelled and they had been told that they were no longer going to be able to play the gig in Sydney, but the band wanted to come and play so much that they decided to hire a private plane and flew up, having not long arrived. The audience cheered encouragingly,  the technical issues seemed to be resolved and singer Gabriel introduced the next song, Roxette classic The Look. The audience dances and sings along loudly and the Self Deception set continues without the earlier sound problems. They have a heavy rock industrial-electro sound with a Marilyn Manson flavour. Their stage presence was a tad confusing to me as the drummer wears a mask, the man-buned singer prowls the stage semi (and eventually) shirtless and the bassist is dressed in a neon pink cowboy hat, matching Hawaiian shirt and shorts set and long pink socks, looking more like he's on an island vacation rather than playing at a metal gig. It’s definitely a “vibe” I'm just not quite sure which “vibe” though. I enjoyed their songs, the band were tight, and Gabriel Keyes is an enigmatic frontman. Bass player Patrik Hallgren ended up playing in the mosh pit crowd at one point. At the end of the set, they thank the audience for their patience and say that it had been the most memorable night of the tour.  Self Deception played an interesting 30 minute set that included, Six Feet Under, Scandinavian Dream, The Look, Psycho, Holy Water, Fight Fire With Gasoline

The Hordern had now filled with people and everyone was hyped and excited for Electric Callboy to take to the stage. To pass the time, some people had brought a couple of beach balls and a spaceship shaped balloon, which the crowd tossed around ooh-ing and ahh-ing as they rose and fell.

The time had finally come, the excitement from the crowd was palpable as the lights dim and the big screen at the back of the stage is illuminated with a video clip of a woman dressed up as an airline stewardess announcing the beginning of the Electric Callboy set. Towards the end of the announcement, the band entered the stage, the lights came up, a confetti bomb exploded and the audience was bouncing and singing loudly to Tekkno Train. Vocalist Nico Sallach asked the audience to form a “Ninja Wall of Death” for the next song, MC Thunder (Dancing Like A Ninja) then when the song ended, Nico mentioned what we’d all been thinking, “where was Kevin?”. Sallach explained that after the Melbourne show the previous night, Ratajczak had to leave straight away to the airport to return home for “family reasons”. Then Nico asked us all to sing loudly for Kevin as Spaceman played. The Spaceship balloon from earlier flew around during the song. Then they played Love/Hate followed by the Cascade cover, Everytime We Touch, The Scene, Castrop X Spandau and Arrow Of Love.  At this point, the band left the stage leaving the drummer to perform his solo to Darude’s Sandstorm. The band then returned and to the delight of the crowd, and the much loved Hypa Hypa played next, followed by Parasite, then a stripped down acoustic version of the Backstreet Boys cover, I Want it That Way which had the audience singing along very loudly. Sallach explained that the next song is based on German Schlagger music and separated the crowd in the centre to form a space and encouraged everyone to “couple dance” to Hurrikan. They rounded the set out with MC Thunder, leaving the stage as the audience cheered and called out for an encore. They complied and returned to the stage to play Pump It to the excited and energetic crowd as another confetti bomb went off and followed it with Mindreader, leaving briefly once again. With more encouragement, the band returned once more to perform the hit single, We Got The Moves to a final confetti bomb and streamer bomb. At the end, the band lined up for the obligatory band with the audience in the background pic, then Nico spotted a couple of youngsters who had been perched on their dads shoulders during the show, singing along enthusiastically, and called them up on stage to join the band in the pic. The crowd cheered, everyone posed and then there was the scrum for the picks, sticks and set lists. The house lights come up at 10.45pm and everyone is buzzing as they exit the venue. 

What a night! Electric Callboy delivered a high octane set, even without their co-vocalist, Kevin Ratajczak. The sound and lighting were on point, the multiple confetti and streamer bombs added to the party atmosphere and the energy from the audience was like being at a dance club or a rave with everyone dancing, bouncing up and down and singing along loudly. This definitely felt more techno than metal and even though lyrically, the songs imply something a bit “rude”, the absolute silliness of the band and their songs appeals to all ages, so there were parents there with their children. The fanbase is varied to say the least, with the black parade of ‘core and metal fans mixed with the brightly coloured ‘fits of EDM fans. There were a lot of fans dressed up like the characters from their videoclips, with matching  outfits, wigs and headbands. The support bands were high energy and did their job of gee-ing up the audience and firmly established the party vibes. Venue staff were friendly and polite, and security kept everyone safe. Overall, there’s a legit reason why this band totally sold out this tour so quickly, because they bring the dance party 100 percent, even with a missing bandmate. The night was exactly what you would want for an event like this and I’ve walked away feeling like I could very happily do that all over again! I'm definitely up for seeing these bands again, especially Electric Callboy, so who’s coming with?

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[Review] We Came As Romans @ Liberty Hall, Sydney 31/08/2023

Review By Nikki Eenink

It was Thursday night but there was still a close to a capacity crowd at Liberty Hall in Moore Park, Sydney. Not bad for a “school night”. 

Liberty Hall has gone through several name changes and incarnations over the past decade, it's been quite some time since I ventured to this part of Sydney, so I am pleasantly surprised to find that there’s now a cool adjoining pub that has a nice selection of burgers and fries and has Newtowner on tap, so bro and I are set for a quick feed and a beer or two before the show  and after our long drive down to the “big smoke”. We enter the venue and everything has big, easy to see signage. Toilets, Bar and Merch. Bro and I head straight to the merch line and then find a good spot on the floor near the stage to watch the bands. It’s an all ages show tonight so the punters include mum, dad, the kids and everything in-between.

At 7.30pm there was a sense of excitement in the air as the first cab off the rank was local support band, Harroway, a metalcore quintet of Sydneysiders, who took the stage. 

Harroway warmed the crowd up with a handful of solid ‘core tracks, including current single, Parasite. Lead vocalist, Matt Banks did a great job of getting the audience involved and gee’d up for the next band on the evenings trio of metal. 

Next up were Texan metalcore heavyweights, Invent Animate

Invent Animate released a killer new album, Heavener, in March 2023 and finally made their first trip to Australia.

Everyone is finally inside the venue and energised for the show. You could feel that this audience came to participate, so after a quick stage change over, Invent Animate made their Sydney debut, opening with the in your face, Shade Astray then a blistering set of Heavener bangers followed with False Meridian, Labyrinthine, Absence Persistence, Elysium, then finally my favourite, Without A Whisper and rounded the set out with Immolation of Night. Every member of the band was wearing all-white outfits, even the lighting effects were lighter and brighter – it was refreshing visually. 

Lead vocalist, Marcus Vik interacted with the crowd between songs, and  encouraged, in fact, practically demanded jumping, moshing and crowd surfing. He asked if the audience had heard of Invent Animate, to which the audience responded with a resounding “yes” and enthusiastic applause. The crowd sang along loudly and circle-moshed. A handful of people crowd surfed, no need to ask this crowd twice, this is what they came for. The set ended sooner than we all wanted but the crowd remained excited as we awaited the main act, We Came As Romans

It’s been almost 8 years since we've seen Michigan-based metalcore/hardcore outfit, We Came As Romans. A lot has happened during that absence. Aside from the pandemic that shut down touring for 2 years, We Came As Romans suffered a great personal loss with the sudden death of much loved keyboardist, Kyle Pavone in 2018. Even after this great sadness, WCAR chose to push forward and in 2022 they released a total banger of an album with Darkbloom

At 9.15pm, the stage lights dimmed, Mr Brightside by The Killers played through the speakers while everyone sang along, then the lights came up as the band entered the stage to thunderous cheers and applause. We hadn't seen WCAR since 2015 so the audience was beyond thrilled to finally see them return to a Sydney stage. The set opened with the title track and single, Darkbloom and from the opening notes, the room was electric with anticipation. Vocalist David Stephens sang, “ I won’t pretend that I can see the end, the light may fade, but I won’t wither away, ohhhhh, I won’t wither away, ohhhhh, I won’t wither away…..” then the AI voice announces, “I am Darkbloom” … and with that the band and audience exploded into movement, jumping and dancing.  The crowd was headbanging and moshing, singing loudly, I looked to the left of me and there was a young boy with his mother. He was maybe 10 years old and he knew every word and sang loudly with such enthusiasm. It warmed my cold dead heart to see the younger generations loving metal music with such passion. At the end of the song, Stephens stopped to greet the audience and said, “it's so great to be in a country when I can say the word c*nt. If I did that in the States I’d be cancelled” the audience responded with cheers and the band started playing Doublespeak

Next they played Wasted Age. Several members of the band assisted Stephens as he divided the audience on the floor area in half before unleashing the “wall of death” as they play Cold Like War from the 2017 album of the same name. Then it was back to the Darkbloom album’s second track, Plagued. Stephens stoped to converse with the audience again, saying that the next song was Kyle's favourite and dedicated the song to him, the band played Tracing Back Roots, followed up with The Anchor, when David stopped to talk with the audience this time, the mosh pit gets down on the floor and rows together and as the band played Lost In The Moment, from Cold Like War, the moshpit became a juggernaut of circular, swirling movement. During Cold Like War’s Learning To Survive, Stephens jumped down from the stage into the crowd, who held him up as he sang, then surfed back up onto the stage.  At the end of the song, Stephens talked about how he wanted to do a “shoe-y”. The audience cheered him on and chanted “shoey shoey shoey”, Bassist, Andy Glass agreed to do it as well, and both band members proceeded to drink beer from Stephens’ sneaker. It’s gross, its an Aussie tradition and the audience loved it. Then it was time to play the Darkbloom song, Golden, at the end of the song, Stephens calls an audience member to join him up on the stage. He informed the room that this lady had supported the band from the start, had travelled all around Australia and even the world to attend their concerts, then a crew member brought out a broken guitar that the band had signed and Stephens presented it to her as a thank you gift. Everyone cheered and they played Hope from the 2013 album, Understanding What We’ve Grown To Be and finished the set off with another Darkbloom track, Daggers. The band thanked everyone and left the stage for a couple of minutes while the audience cheered loudly and yelled out for “one more song”. The chanting brought the band back and they returned to the stage and performed one final song from Darkbloom, Black Hole, then as they left the stage once again with thanks and waves, tossing out some guitar picks and handing out setlists to the hungry hands of fans up near the front of the stage. The lights came up as the house PA played the Thirty Seconds To Mars hit, The Kill. Phew! What a night!

Each band brought so much positive energy to the evening. The setlists were filled with bangers. They each entertained the crowd who were hyped for a great evening of moshing, headbanging, crowd surfing, and singing along loudly, all of which were done with respectful, animated enthusiasm. The atmosphere was electric for a much-loved band's long awaited return. The venue was clean and the staff were friendly and accommodating. I honestly can't find a negative thing to say about the concert. From go to whoa, my expectations were exceeded. If you haven’t checked out Invent Animate yet, then put that on your To-Do List. We Came As Romans were incredible, putting on a highly entertaining, energetic performance with a set list that included new and past faves. I couldn’t recommend this tour more highly.  For remaining dates and further details, check the Destroy All Lines webpage. 

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[Review] Avatar @ Metro Theatre, Sydney 26/08/2023

Review By Megan Milner

The enigmatic carnival of chaos known as Avatar has finally graced Australian shores, for the very first time. With a string of three exhilarating performances down the east coast, Melbourne had the privilege of being the inaugural stop on this wild journey. However, tonight, it’s Sydney’s turn to step into the mesmerizing circus. My introduction to Avatar was back in 2016 when I embarked on a heavy metal cruise called Shiprocked, a five-day odyssey from Miami to Mexico. It was within those tempestuous waves of music that I first encountered and fell head over heels for Avatar. Since then, I’ve been fortunate enough to witness their captivating stage presence on four separate occasions, spanning across international stages, including this year’s Download Festival UK. The culmination of this journey finds me here tonight, as I stand on the brink of experiencing the band’s full headline set on home soil—a dream I’ve wished since that initial encounter seven years ago. Thanks to the incredible team at Phoenix, my long-awaited wish has been granted.

The night kicked off with anticipation and excitement, as fans eagerly awaited the spectacle that was about to unfold. After a late change in the lineup due to an unfortunate injury, Pyrefly took the stage, setting the tone for the night with their energetic and powerful performance. In the brief span of their 30-minute time slot, this group managed to forge a passionate fanbase among those who might not have previously encountered their music. Lead vocalist and charismatic frontman KJ even fearlessly ventured into the midst of the audience midway through their set, seamlessly becoming one with the crowd. Despite the absence of Our Last Enemy, the crowd’s spirits remained high, ready to embrace the main act. 

Avatar’s reputation preceded them as a band that’s crisscrossed the globe, appearing on the largest international music festival stages, leaving a trail of mesmerized fans in their wake. As the lights dimmed, a deafening roar erupted from the crowd, signalling the beginning of an unforgettable night. The two guitarists Jonas “Kungen” Jarlsby, Tim Öhrström and bass player Henrik Sandelin strode onto the stage, commanding attention standing completely still with their hands behind their backs facing the crowd, soon joined by drummer John Alfredsson who distributed their instruments via a masked roadie. 

The concert took off with explosive energy as Avatar launched into Dance Devil Dance and The Eagle Has Landed. A standout of the set for me personally was Bloody Angel from their 2104 masterpiece Hail The Apocalypse. During each song, the four members in front of the drum rise were windmilling with their luscious locks, my neck already in agony after a few songs. I really need to find out the Avatar trick, to doing this night after night! Johannes, the mesmerizing vocalist and ringmaster extraordinaire initiated the evening by establishing an unusual but alluring connection with the audience—consent. It was an unexpectedly enthralling way to kick off the night, a precursor to the eccentric yet electrifying journey that awaited us. 

Johannes left the stage during Puppet Show, only to reappear on the balcony to the left of the mosh pit, entertaining the crowd with balloon animals and a larger-than-life gold trombone performance. The band’s showmanship was nothing short of extraordinary, seamlessly blending music and theatrics. Even with the humorous interludes, Avatar’s musical prowess remained undeniable. The guitarists, Tim and Kungen, engaged in a riveting riff battle that left the audience in awe. Their performance showcased their talents as much as their camaraderie. 

Most metal drummers are hidden with cymbals and dark lighting from beyond. Although this is not the case for Alfredsson as from the very beginning of the night, when he handed out the instruments, he was as much a part of the carnival of madness as those up front. He towers above his kit, eyes wide and staring down the members of the crowd. His still body contrasted magnificently with the frenetic movement of his arms as they navigated the drum kit. 

Colossus turned the tables, with the band freezing in place while the crowd watched in anticipation. The interplay between the performers and the audience created a dynamic and immersive experience, making everyone an integral part of the show. Moments of respite arrived as Johannes took to the piano for Tower, connecting with the audience on a more intimate level and offering a temporary reprieve from the electrifying chaos. He called us family and thanked each one of us from his soul, and we all felt the sincerity. 

Avatar’s latest single, The Dirt in Buried In, already a fan favourite, was met with thunderous cheers. It was later announced Avatar have gained their very first Billboard number 1 with the song in America, congratulations! The setlist skillfully balanced heavy, melodic tunes, showcasing the band’s versatility and dynamic range. 

The concert culminated in a breathtaking crescendo with Hail the Apocalypse and Smells Like a Freak Show. These final two songs encapsulated the essence of Avatar’s music—powerful, heavy, melodic, and anthemic. The synergy between the band and the audience reached its zenith as everyone sang along, forming a harmonious union of sound and emotion. 

As the final notes reverberated through the venue, a palpable sense of fulfillment hung in the air. Avatar had delivered a flawless performance, leaving the audience happy yet yearning for more. The setlist was meticulously curated, a whopping 17 songs, the interaction with the crowd was unparalleled, and the band’s musical prowess and theatrics were on full display. 

Leaving the concert venue, I couldn’t help but feel that something special had transpired. Avatar had not only brought their music to Sydney but had also forged a profound connection with the Australian audience. The hope for a lasting and beautiful relationship between Avatar and Australia seemed not only plausible but inevitable. Avatar’s enchanting performance defied genre stereotypes, inviting everyone to join their captivating circus. It was more than a concert; it was an unforgettable experience that left a lasting imprint, beckoning us to return to the madness, again and again.

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Gig ReviewsReviews

[Review] Evanescence @ Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney 26/08/2023

Review By Raelee Atkinson

After a long wait outside Qudos Bank Arena at Sydney Olympic Park, the crowd finally made their way to their seats as the support band entered the stage. Melbourne all-female band, The Beautiful Monument put on an energetic and entertaining  performance, which included their popular tracks, Give Up, Stay, Deceiver and Hellbound. The Beautiful Monument warmed up the winter-chilled audience and are clearly fans of and inspired by the main event – Evanescence.

After a short break to reset the stage, it’s 9pm, and the arena lights dim and Rage Against The Machine classic Killing in the Name played followed by The Bitter Truth opening track, Artifact / The Turn the stage lights came up and Evanescence took the stage to the excited roar of the crowd. Opening with Broken Pieces Shine, flowing into What You Want, then the opening track from Fallen, Going Under, and The Bitter Truth’s, Take Cover are played before the first medley for the evening. Lose Control / Part Of Me / and self-titled’s Never Go Back amalgamate into one song. Then it was time for The Open Door hit single (and my personal fave), Call Me When You’re Sober. 

Amy Lee chatted to the audience between songs and introduced their “new” bass guitarist, from Sick Puppies, Australian, Emma Anzai saying this felt like a “hometown tour” with an Aussie now in the band. The crowd cheered loudly then they played The Bitter Truth single, Wasted On You with Emma singing background vocals, blending beautifully with Amy. 

A grand piano was then wheeled onto the stage and Amy Lee sat and began to  play Lithium, from The Open Door. The audience sang along loudly to this fan favourite. They followed with Far From Heaven, Better Without You both from The Bitter Truth, then as the band played Fallen’s Imaginary a video montage played on two large screens, commemorating 20 years of debut album, Fallen. Lee’s voice soared as she sang End Of The Dream from the self-titled album, then it was time for another medley – Haunted / My Last Breath / Cloud Nine / Everybody’s Fool / Weight Of The World /  and rounded out with Whisper

Lee stopped to introduce the next song telling the audience that no one can speak for us only we can speak for ourselves, and that we aren’t just one small voice, that we are stronger together, the speech received a rousing applause and segwayed into Use My Voice, and Blind Belief from The Bitter Truth. The grand piano is wheeled back onto the stage and as Lee played the opening notes from My Immortal, the audience, cheered, sighed, applauded loudly, and sang along, lighting the torches on their mobile phones. It was an incredible sight to see the large arena filled with what looked like thousands of fairy lights as Amy’s lush voice filled the auditorium. 

Saving the best till last, it was finally time to hear the song that started it all for Amy Lee and Evanescence, Bring Me To Life. As Lee begins singing the haunting, opening notes,

“How can you see into my eyes like open doors? 

Leading you down into my core where I’ve become so numb…”

I could feel the excitement and anticipation from the audience.  It’s the one song we’ve all came to hear. Love it or loathe it, it’s just not an Evanescence concert without it! Everyone came here to sing along to this classic song and when the chorus hits, I could hear people around me singing the male vocal part, originally performed by 12 Stones vocalist / rapper, Paul McCoy. 

During the song, Lee encourages everyone to join in as this is “(y)our last opportunity to be part of it this evening”. By the bridge, the audience are practically shouting and many have stood up from their seats and are dancing.

It finally feels like a celebration of a milestone as a “cannon” shoots out purple and mauve streamers overhead. As the streamers fall, the song finishes and the band come to the front of the stage to toss picks, a guitar pick guard and a drum head into the GA (General Admission) audience in front of the stage. They pose for the obligatory end of show band pic and the band left the stage with waves goodbye, and the house lights came up. I turned to my brother and said “what? no encore?” This seems to be a trend we are seeing, though. 

So, in summary, I loved the Evanescence concert. It was a long 20 years of waiting to finally see this much loved band perform some of my favourite songs live, but so worth the wait. Sharing the experience with my brother was the icing on the already delicious cake. The band were tight and professional, entertaining the audience without overly drawing attention away from Amy Lee. The sound was a bit muddy at times, but I’m thinking that is the venue, not the band. Cameras filming the show and projecting onto 2 large screens either side of the stage meant that whether you were front row on the rail or back row in the nose bleeds, you had some kind of view of the band and as a shorty, that gets bonus points from me! I loved seeing Emma Anzai play – one of my highlights. Amy Lee is beautiful and charming, she chats with the audience, is gracious and expressed her gratitude for the 20 years of “love and support” for her music career. Her vocals are stunningly on point and it’s my opinion that she has improved with age as a vocalist and a performer. First album, Fallen is a gothic, emotional album and latest album, The Bitter Truth has a more current, political vibe to it, so it is no surprise that the audience was a veritable melting pot that varied in age, gender, ethnicity and socio-economically. It was heartwarming to see mum, dad and the kids all enjoying the concert together.  I highly recommend that if you enjoy Evanescence’s music and don’t already have a ticket for the remaining dates on this tour, that you do so forthwith – it’s totally worth it! 

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