Post Image
Gig ReviewsReviews

[Review] Neck Deep @ Forum Theatre, Melbourne 05/09/2023

Review By Nikki Eenink

As I left to see Welsh emo heavyweights Neck Deep rock the house at The Forum, my housemate said to me, shocked; “You’re going to a gig? On a Tuesday?” I shrugged. If there’s one thing you can rely on, it’s that the emo, punk and hardcore community will come out in full force any day of the week. This midweek feast for the senses was no exception.

Hailing from the tiny town of Wrexham, in Wales. Neck Deep have been a staple in any emo playlist since their foundation in 2012. Front-man Ben Barlow’s energy is the stuff of legend. He’s known for big jumps, shooeys and general shenanigans. The videos of him performing are insane; whole stadiums alive with energy, screaming and crowd surfing and ready to riot. I had measured my expectations, there’s no way he can do that every time. But when I tell you, it was all of that and more – it was all of that and more.

From the literal jump, Barlow leaps onstage and is a whirling dervish of limbs and sweat drops. His energy is infectious. Instantly, there is so much space at the back of the room as everyone lunges forward, hands held high, drinks sloshing onto the shortest of us. It’s mayhem. The definition of organised chaos. Never disrespectful, we happily collide and tangle ourselves in the bodies of strangers as we are thrown into Sonderland. The lights on the stage are amazing. Swinging spotlights in brilliant blues and purple flash into our eyes and reflect off the fearsome foursome onstage. It’s magical.

As their first number draws to a close, Barlow pulls the microphone in close. “What’s up my fucking low lives? Oh it’s been too long” We show our approval by wolf calling and a chorus of happy screams. And instantly, we are thrown back into the frenzy with Low Life. And what a bunch of degenerates we are. “Something is cooking, I smell some kush!” Barlow chuckles into the mic. And he’s right. The room smells of beer and weed and a little sweat. But looking around, everyone’s beaming stretched ear to stretched ear. There’s nowhere we’d rather be. “We never thought we’d come to the other side of the world and play for all these people”. And what an eclectic bunch we are. Skater chic, goths, guys in denim jackets. All of us move together as we push forward and give ourselves over to Kali Ma, screaming the lyrics that hit extra hard in this brutal Melbourne winter.

Count my blessings on one hand and my curses on the other / Let you slip between my fingers, hide away until the summer.

As this number draws to a close, Barlow addresses us again, in a speech that highlights the band’s blue-collar origins. “I don’t know much about Australian politics, but I do know you have a billionaire problem. You have the spawn of Satan himself, Rupert fucking Murdoch.” The entire crowd let’s out an animalistic: BOOOO. He winds on, commenting on capitalism and sexism and the issues facing us as a society. “Women have been talking about this shit for ages, and now it’s finally coming to a head. Things back on our Little Piece of Shit Island (couldn’t have described the UK better myself if I tried) are bleak. We’re fucking over it. If you’re fucking over it, I wanna feel that for this next song.” The next song, Citizens of Earth, goes off. We feel his words, and his rage, and we lean into that – letting it all out. Even as the crowd gets rougher, we take care of each other. Yelling “heads!” when the next person got up to crowd surf (seriously – so much crowd surfing), or holding the back of someone’s head so they don’t hit anything while they headbang. Right before the high energy bridge, Barlow screams into the mic:


And we all cheer for the brief moment we can, before launching back into the song.

As it ends, Barlow is back. We hang on his every word, rapt. “I can see you’re pretty pissed off, that’s good.” We are all red-faced, with heaving chests and throats already raspy from singing (shouting) along. Pissed off, but ecstatic. “It’s important to remember; the billionaires might be out to get you, but life is not.” It’s then I notice the couple’s holding hands, the guy next to me with full neck and arms tattooed wiping away tears. This is joy. Life must be alright, because life’s got Neck Deep.

They wind through some more of the set, playing old and new songs. Teasing that there’s a new album to be released imminently. It just finished recording. I REPEAT, THERE IS A NEW ALBUM COMING.

Guitarists Sam Bowden and original member Matt West are unbelievable. These tracks have a newfound depth when you hear them live. The guitar zips around the room, perfectly nesting in my ears. Never too loud, or too soft. They play in perfect harmony. Nailing intricate riffs, unconventional time signatures, and the road-bumps that can come from playing live – they must be some of the best out there. Truly they never falter. On top of playing stunning melodies, and heavenly rhythm sections, they also manage to completely match Barlow’s energy. Jumping and swinging their guitars. They often motion for us to get more hyped up. It seems like they don’t even break a sweat. It’s absolutely spellbinding.

Of course, there’s the obligatory shooey. It’s an artist touring Australia right of passage. But I’m nervous for Barlow – this is very early in the set to be offering up a shooey. He’s opening Pandora’s Box.

“Are there any heartbroken people out there?” I scream, but I can’t hear myself. Everyone’s yelling. Even those with a partner next to them. Heartbreak takes many forms. Heartbreak of the Century is fresh off the press. A 2023 release, one half of their Take Me With You EP. “This one’s fresh out of the oven. We’re talking March 2023. But don’t worry, I have a gorgeous fiancé, I’m fine.” Barlow smirks. A girl behind me let’s out a guttural, devastated “Nooo!!!!!” This song could have been an earlier release, we know every word. It just rolls of the tongue. Lines like

“But my love aint enough. Maybe that’s ok. I was thinking about fucking myself anyway.”

Demand to be screamed. We all think we’ve gone through The World’s Worst Heartbreak. And even as we scream along, there isn’t a bad vibe in the room. We’re all just so happy to be here together. Heartbreak is a distant memory.

We hit some technical difficulties, so as they try to go into the second half of their Take Me With You EP – aptly named, Take Me With You. There’s an issue with the sound and lighting. Something techy. I was honestly too caught up in the vibe to realise. Barlow goes into, as he calls it, “A stand-up routine”. “This song is about aliens coming down, and wanting to go with them. I for one welcome our new alien overlords. But they don’t want us to play.” Turning to their drummer, Barlow says. “Take it away! Give us a drum solo!” Turning back to us, “This will be his first ever drum solo”.  We are treated to a delightful 30 seconds of bass and snare, and for the first time, we’re all quiet. Once he’s done, we all cheer and hoot and holler. The new addition to the band blushes. Barlow has been shifting foot to foot, looking down. “One of my fucking shoes is wet, I might do another shooey.” He immediately regrets teasing us with that. The crowd is ablaze with frantic cheers of “SHOOEY SHOOEY SHOOEY”.

Barlow relaxes into the technical difficulties; the band is confident in their ability to just keep playing. “Sometimes fan’s hear us play our more emotional stuff, or a love song, and go ‘waa waa, you guys have gone soft.’ Motherfuckers, we’ve always been soft. You guys remember Part of Me? That was maybe our first big hit, and it’s soft as fuck. We won’t be playing it. It’s had its time. Sorry guys. But we will play these next two for you.” And they don’t just play, they demolish Smooth Seas Don’t Make Good Sailors and then, personal fave, She’s a God.

For the latter, I move my way back into the middle of the crowd to scream along and happily bounce as I catch glimpses of Barlow and his merry misery crew, my vision obstructed by old-skool vans floating over people’s heads as 3 or 4 people at once crowd surf. The people clamber over themselves to grab Barlow as he sings into the crowd, or if he gets close. He smiles at them. “Let’s get this going! Let’s spin a little.” And the middle of the floor turns into a whirlwind. If a mosh pit could be loving, this one sure was.

Finally, the guys can play Take Me With You. And it was so worth the wait. It’s fun and sounds unreal over The Forum’s speaker system.

As the night is drawing to a close, Barlow says into the mic, “This is our last song.” We all try to get our breath, but don’t give him the reaction he wants. “If only there was some kind of performative bullshit you could do to get us to come back out, if only.” We laugh and humour him, a sea of “Nooo!” “One more song!” Smirking back at us. “I told you you’d get one more, easy.” And what better song to “finish” with than December (Again). It’s a Neck Deep classic. “This song is about being really sad in winter, but I guess here you’ll just be miserable on the beach.” And we all cheer. I think I ascended during this song. I’ve never had so much fun. I make friends, I nearly cry, I let it out. Un-fucking-believable.

They walk offstage, and we launch into a heavy chorus of “Noo!!” “One more!!” And, of course, as promised, they come right back.

“Alright! Let’s end this properly!” And we are thrown into Motion Sickness. I don’t know where we all suddenly got the energy, but it’s like the night is starting again. We all move with a renewed vigour, determined to make this night last. “Firstly a few thank-you’s. Thank you to our fucking unbelievable crew. We’re just some idiots who show up and play, they’re the reason this is all possible, all the hard work is them. They’re our best friends. They’re amazing. Thank you to all of you. Who came when we started touring down here, God, maybe a decade ago?” A few cheers. “We love Melbourne! We have so many friends here. The only person I know for sure who was here was a very young John Floreani.” As a good Novocastrian, I cheer until my vocal cords rip. I love you, Trophy Eyes. “And a special thank you to our all-round tech, Danny. It was his birthday yesterday.” Danny comes out and offers himself willingly to do a Shooey. He sacrifices himself on the Altar of Australian Tradition for his birthday. And we are so grateful. We go mental. “What a fucking legend!!!”

Then, they really do have two songs left. “This one’s for all the small-town heroes. But you can all get involved.” I cheer, the guys in front of me cheer, and the whole crowd starts to headbang as Can’t Kick Up the Roots pummels through the speakers. “We’re so grateful to have been from a small town, and to have never forgotten that, and not changed too much. But even more than that, we are so grateful we were given the opportunity to perform for, what? A couple thousand of you? It just doesn’t seem possible. Thank you. If you’re going to buy merch tonight, buy merch from our support act; Yours Truly. Give those smaller, local bands some love. It means more than you know.”

Yours Truly are a Sydney pop-punk band, keeping up with the OG-greats. If you’re a fan of Avril Lavigne, Paramore, or any of those 2000s gems – they’ll be right up your alley. The way High Hopes absolutely rocked the crowd at The Forum is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Female-led and unbelievably tight, they are taking that baton and running with it. Barlow puts it best. “Put them on during your next car ride, you just might find your new favourite band.” Even only catching the tail end of their set was other worldly. It just makes you want to dance, to let loose, to live the sort of teenager-dom they show in the movies. Let’s go, Australia, you’ve got something good here, let’s show them the love they so deserve.

Finishing with In Bloom, is just perfection. Not only is it one of my favourite, not just Neck Deep songs, but emo songs in general, it winds us down perfectly. It’s walked me down from my worst breakups, and it’s hyped me up on bus rides, keen for whatever comes next in life.

“I can try, but sometimes that is not enough. No, that is not enough.”

A singular chorus of screams, tangled bodies. Trying on our own is not enough, we need to lean on each other.

“You’re the only voice I want to hear in my head.”

All I want to hear, forever and ever, is Barlow’s insane vocals, the squeals of joy from the pop-punkers next to me, and our Anthems of Perseverance.

This song offers some of the best breakup advice there is.

“We’re never going to put the pieces back together, if you won’t let me get better.”

We need the time to heal, from life, from Rupert Murdoch, from being hit in the back of the head by some girl in platform Doc’s who just tried her hand at crowd surfing. We heal better together. We heal better moshing. We heal better screaming. We heal better with Neck Deep.

Read More
Post Image
Gig ReviewsReviews

[Review] Easylover Festival @ Northcote Theatre, Melbourne 10/06/2023

Review By Emily White

Having spent the first half of 2023 on their national Daisy Chain Album Tour, Melbourne’s home-grown indie rock icons, Slowly Slowly, drew in one last sold-out audience for the inaugural EASYLOVER Festival this Saturday. Returning just two weeks after their headlining show at The Forum, fans prepared to be absolutely indulged with yet another extended set. Packed with back-to-back performances from indie rock heavyweights, the seven hours spent in Northcote Theatre’s four walls flew by, with not a single ‘filler act’ to slow the momentum.

From 4pm the queue of festivalgoers wrapped tightly around the building and down the icy cold streets, eager to escape the winter breeze for what would be a hot and sweaty storm inside.  The first ingredient for such chaos was Australian alt-rock trio Ok Hotel. Playing with contrasting elements of a casual garage band paired with perfectly melodic instrumentalism, the Wollongong locals kicked off what frontman Josh Fogarty eloquently described as an evening at ‘rock n roll church’. With the gorgeous winter sun beaming through the rear stained-glass windows, the set portrayed just that – an otherworldly auditory delight.

Filled with youthful angst, the muffled grunge vocals paired with crystal clear electric guitar provided a thrilling listening experience. Regular changes in tempo and asymmetrically placed pauses made it impossible to keep up with the gritty punk machine; a highly sought-after attribute of cleverly written rock music. With only thirty minutes to highlight their impressive discography, the band made it clear they are not here to mess around. Tracks such as the 2023 single Get Out showcasing abstract imagery in the feeling of drowning through lyricism, ‘help me please, I’ve been waiting here forever but the sharks won’t ever leave’. Ok Hotel gave the audience all you could want from an opening act, departing the stage sweaty and untamed – an indicator of the night ahead.

 Friends of Friends may not yet be a household name, but the four-man band from Brisbane are certainly on a path to stardom. The self-proclaimed ‘trashy alt-pop band’ moved the show from strength to strength; with instantly intoxicating stage presence demanding the attention of the now shoulder-to-shoulder crowd. Paired with a bass so heavy it could be felt in your throat, lead vocalist Barnaby Baker took the next thirty minutes to showcase the band’s fresh, otherworldly alt-rock sound. Nailed down by perfectly paced drumming, and an overlay of dreamy guitar and distorted vocals, the band explores themes of personal loss and social angst. Although remaining absolutely authentic, Friends of Friends has found a way to balance this with tour-ready, glam-rock personas; packed with fluid and emotive movement. Debuting their newest single Bleachers (On and On), impressive song writing met with an astonishing vocal range, ‘I’m mislead I’m fading baby, burning up in shades of red’. Experiencing Friends of Friends live for the first time was intoxicating, and an easy sell for their upcoming projects.

Being such a hard act to follow, Bakers Eddy was the band for the job. The Melbourne-based punk rock group are both casual in their demeaner, yet irresistibly charming in delivery. Playing a standout set despite having a stand-in bassist, and an eventually broken guitar string is a show of the sheer level of talent and persistence of the band, particularly front man Ciarann Babbington. Kicking off their set early because they ‘can’t be fucked walking off stage and then coming back 2 minutes later’, the crowd was in for a treat. What can only be described as wild, fun, and provocative, Bakers Eddy were a festival favourite. Almost immediately the mosh pit grew in intensity, bodies flying overhead and splashing beer coating everything in sight. This band were made to be seen live. Musically Bakers Eddy is youthful and charming, packed with ‘fast chords, weird chords and nostalgia’. Playing a condensed set showcasing their 2022 album Love Boredom Bicycles; hit tracks including My Baby’s Like Cigarettes and 21 left the crowd begging for more, shouting ‘one more song’ as the band departed the stage.

Riled up and thirsting for more, Press Club burst onto the stage. The Australian punk group fronted by incredibly charismatic frontwoman Natalie Foster was a breath of fresh air. Psychedelic, tight, catchy rock riffs bled seamlessly one after the other, as the vocalist cartwheeled and contorted herself through the space. The free-spirited nature of the band’s physical appearance is complimentary to the inward-looking lyrics, delivered so authentically, ‘Lately I’ve been mistaken for crazy’. Almost instantly Natalie was in the arms of the crowd, making not only the stage, but the entire room her platform for expression. With incredible abstract lighting and background imagery, Press Club disorientate the senses and hypnotise the mind. With the crowd at their fingertips the band incorporated playfulness and fun into their set in true rockstar fashion; and departed the stage as abruptly as they had arrived.

Between You & Me have become notorious for their unhinged, high energy pop rock performances, and their thirty-minute EASYLOVER set was no exception. Coming off the back of supporting Slowly Slowly’s recent tour, frontman Jake Wilson has made a name for himself as a rockstar. Playing a close re-enactment of their set at The Forum, the band now had a leg-up knowing the audience was familiar with their songs. Playing a phenomenal line-up of hits including Go to Hell, Butterflies, Deadbeat, and their newest single Nevermind, it is astounding the punters in the mosh had any energy left for the festival’s remaining two acts. The pit experience was certainly one for the books, harnessing the reckless energy of Eddie Vedder’s iconic 1992 stage dive, both Jake and bassist James Karagiozis (Bassy), had no reservations in throwing themselves into the crowd. Eventually forming a huge pit circle and revving up onlookers, the pair became a part of the mosh. It doesn’t get much better than Between You & Me when it comes to hardcore Aussie rock, and I can be certain this set grew the band’s following immensely.

 Switching up the energy for the night’s final support act was Sydney pop-punk trio Yours Truly. Having formed in 2016, the band has become well established in their nation-wide success. Full of bounce and flair, frontwoman Mikaila Delgado puts a face to the band. Approaching the stage as a gorgeous silhouette in glittering stockings, Mikaila is captivating. Hitting the theatre with powerhouse vocals and a rockstar persona, it became abundantly clear why Yours Truly have gained so much traction. Dreamy and celestial, the band delivers relatable lyrics about heartbreak and betrayal, wrapped in a purple haze. The relationship between Yours Truly and their fans was gorgeous to watch as Mikaila made contact with anyone who knew her lyrics, smiling and waving back at them. Playing high-energy hits from their recent album is this what I look like?, the band was the perfect segway into what would be an intensely emotionally charged headliner.

 As if the room wasn’t already packed to the brink, and drowning in sweat, fans continued to flow through the doors of Northcote Theatre – keen to get a glimpse of the night’s headliners. With a following large enough to have sold out a much bigger venue, it was a luxury to witness such an intimate set from Melbourne’s kings of rock Slowly Slowly. Being a festival set, it was easy to expect a ‘best of’ heavy rock setlist from the band. What followed was a stripped-back, seemingly indiscriminate list of tracks from as far back as the Chamomile days. The band played what they wanted, and little did we know, it was what we had been craving too.

Opening with the expected hits including Nothing On, Forget You, and Achilles’ Heel, the energy harnessed was spectacular, certainly the works of ‘rock n roll church’. Not a soul stood still as the fast-paced rhythm shuddered the wooden architecture. Within minutes frontman Ben Stewart was back to his regular antics, revving up the crowd before throwing himself from the stage. Whilst stage dives have become a custom at Slowly Slowly shows, it remains astounding the high-quality vocals that are completely unaffected by the mania unfolding beneath. Ben’s crowd work is spellbinding and harnesses the energy of former rock icons.

‘Let’s pull one from the vault’… The band made a full 180, resurrecting some of their back-catalogue for one-night-only. Sunburnt Shoulders, How It Feels, and recent release God made for a heart-wrenching, emotionally charged moment of rock ballads. Thousands of rays of white light reflected off the walls, falling perfectly from a mirror ball above. EASYLOVER was not made to be a repeat of the Daisy Chain Album Tour, but a bookend on the band’s first four studio albums. Hunched over his guitar in an extended instrumental outro, the sheer weight of these songs made its physical appearance. The moment of vulnerability bringing the crowd closer together – many arm in arm, singing the familiar lyrics word for word.

Changing pace one last time, the band played out their signature rock sound with hits including Race Car Blues, Daisy Chain, Jellyfish, Creature of Habit, Longshot, Blueprint and a confirmed final performance of Blink-182’s I Miss You. No stone was left unturned, no songs left to sing. Shirts were off, shoulders mounted, and ravenous pit circles formed. The ability the band has to continually increase the energy in a crowd is astounding, and a highlight of their live shows. 

All too quickly the first EASYLOVER festival had come and gone. Sticky bodies, bumps and bruises left as a reminder of a shared passion for music. Joined by a culmination of past support acts, collaborators, and friends, the evening acted as a resurgence of classic rock roots, adorned with modern context and lyricism.

You can keep up-to-date with Slowly Slowly and any upcoming tour dates on their website.

Read More
Post Image

FULL TILT FESTIVAL Returns In July With A Massive Line-UP!

Ready Player Two!

Just when you thought Full Tilt was done and dusted for 2022, the team at Destroy All Lines have brought their A game to deliver a sequel of truly epic proportions, with an army of international and local alternative acts ready to descend on the East Coast this July.

Boasting more star power than Mario on an invincible race to the finish line, Full Tilt will journey from Eatons Hill Hotel in Brisbane to the heritage-listed Bella Vista Farm Park in Sydney, before closing out proceedings at PICA (Port Melbourne Industrial Centre for the Arts) in Melbourne.

As for the bands ready to roll in round 2 of Full Tilt this year?

Fearlessly leading the pack are California metalcore heroes The Ghost Inside armed with their blistering self-titled fifth album released in 2020. Expect an absolute sonic KO from these LA lords when they take the stage. Also joining in on the action is Florida rock staples Underoath who will bring their brand-new album Voyeurist along for the ride, while pop rock gets set to entirely level up in the hands of acclaimed genre-chameleon PVRIS.

Hard rock and gleeful horror will collide when melodic heavies Ice Nine Kills start their engines, while some of Australia’s finest alternative acts will bring all of the riffs and riotous combos to proceedings, from deathcore icons Make Them Suffer to odd world aficionados Ocean Grove, Brisbane’s rock juggernauts WAAX, Adelaide indie sensations Teenage Joans and punchy pop-punk prodigies Yours Truly.

Also wielding some extra international glitz and grit, The Wonder Years will bring some searing feels alongside some mallgoth goodness courtesy of carolesdaughter, and punked-up bliss from Static Dress. And prepare to unlock some extra heavy Aussie spice via Saviour and To The Grave.

It ain’t game over just yet – get set for even more Full Tilt in 2022! And prepare to unlock.


Early Bird Tickets on sale: Monday 11 April, 9am local time

Sign up for early bird pre-sale here

General Public Tickets on sale: Wednesday 13 April, 9am local time


*Sydney + Brisbane only


Head to www.destroyalllines.com for more information.





Read More