Tonight Alive are a band from Sydney, Australia. Over the past 9 years, they’ve gone from playing floor shows to 200 people around Sydney to touring internationally, playing to thousands of people, to scoring huge deals like creating the theme song to The Amazing Spider-Man 2 which put the band in the spotlight on a global scale more so than before. As someone who has been a fan since the early days back in 2008, to watch them grow into the unstoppable force they are today has been amazing and I feel incredibly lucky to have seen it happen. *Side note Jenna McDougall is this week’s host on Wall of Sound: Up Against The Wall, listen to the podcast here.*
I’m part of a local Tonight Alive Fam consisting of 10 fellow fans, myself included, who will spend all our hard earned money following the band every time they tour Australia (which rarely happens these days, thanks guys). It’s a ridiculous idea when you think about it but goddamn it’s a fun time. You know that obnoxiously loud group that always request old songs the band wish didn’t exist? Yep, that’s us… sorry, not sorry. Our Fam consists of Hannah, Keshni, Gabby, Krista, Shannen, Abbey, Sarah, Emily, Ashlee, Lili and myself. But we’re not all from the Sydney area, some of us are from Melbourne, others from Queensland and Ashlee (our tour Mum) is in Canada nowadays.
The first time I went interstate for TA was in 2013 on The Other Side Tour. I was fresh out of college, without a job, but I somehow managed to afford tickets for the Sydney and Melbourne shows, however that was okay because those two shows were some of the best shows I’ve been to and set myself and the girls up to be long terms fans/family who every few years would congregate in the same city to witness the developing progression the band had to offer, but this time around something was very different…
— Ashlee Kellehear (@AshleeKellehear) October 16, 2017
In October the band announced they had parted ways with guitarist (and long time member) Whakaio Taahi. As you can imagine, we were, and still are to be quiet honest, absolutely devastated. Collectively between us we couldn’t imagine a world where one of the founding members of Tonight Alive weren’t present on stage, but here we were, for the first time, experiencing that whole concept which brings me to the whole reason of this article.
@Whakaio dude I don't even know what to say but I'm devastated.. thank you for everything squidward ❤️
— Renae Egan (@renaeegan_) October 16, 2017
@Whakaio Brooo, I'm so lost for words about the news but I wish you the best with what you're doing. Thanks for the memories, ya legend!
— Hannah Bates (@thegreatbatesby) October 16, 2017
@Whakaio been seeing u at shows since 2009 and it's really hard to accept that it's over, we'll miss u so very much mate xx
— Keshni Keenawinna (@Keshniifi) October 16, 2017
2 weeks ago, the band embarked on their Back to Beginnings Tour where they visited smaller venues like they used to play back in the day. While the tour as a whole has been nothing short of fantastic from both the band and the fam, full of love, excitement, laughs, memories and a constant sore throat from being that obnoxiously loud group every night, something was obviously missing. Whak. While the band managed to play the best they could without him (which was still really freakin’ good might I add) but as fam member Gabby Summerville of Canberra pointed out,
“his missed presence was definitely noticeable on stage during every show.”
It’s a big concept to deal with after almost 10 years of dedication to the band but with that being said though, guitarist Jake Hardy has done so damn well taking on Whak’s roles. They’ve been playing 2 acoustic songs from their first two EPs, ‘Five Years’ from Consider This and ‘My Favourite Thing’ from All Shapes and Disguises, which were both performed beautifully by both Jenna and Jake alone, despite this tour being the first time they have performed together acoustically. After not touring Australia for so long (and they are the first ones to recognise how shitty that is), in my opinion now is the perfect time for a tour like this. They’ve delved into the back catalogues playing old songs that they may not ever play again, which in turn is like a final send-off for the old Tonight Alive. And us fam are kind of sad about it, but also excited for the next chapter of the band.
“I think this tour has been the perfect way to remind their home grown fans of how it all started, show their progression through the years and to prepare us for a new beginning.” – Krista Jenkins of Sydney adds.
With each show we went to, the band put their heart and soul into their performances and while they were nailing some songs, there were a few of their heavier songs where you could see they were really struggling with missing that second guitar. Highlights for us included Jenna’s energy each night and the way she feels the music, hearing ‘Five Years’ and My Favourite Thing’ for the first time in years and Jake’s calmness balancing out the energy on stage with Jenna’s intensity. And the band’s new single ‘Temple’ from their forthcoming album Underworld sat perfectly at the end of the set acting as an introduction to Underworld, rather than being surrounded by the band’s historical and somewhat iconic memories of a time when everything was fine and peachy.
Talking about the new album, it’ll be interesting to see how they progress forward as a four piece but as fam member Ashlee Kellehear contributed:
“as much as I enjoyed their delving into uncharted territory and showcasing maturity through unprecedented endeavours, I am hopeful they will return to their roots. This isn’t to say that I believe Limitless was unsuccessful or that I didn’t appreciate it, that is rather the contrary. However, I am hopeful they will revisit their style of what seems to be a lifetime ago, when their gigs left you bruised, battered and hoarse. Edgy vocals and hard-hitting instrumentals have always seemed to suit Tonight Alive well. There is a way for them to still achieve this and demonstrate development as musicians and as people and simultaneously overcome any stereotypical ideas that pertain to punk rock belonging primarily to youth culture.”
Between driving across all of New South Wales to attend every single show, crashing in a hotel room surrounded by 8 other fans and flying down to Melbourne to witness the same show, but with an interstate fanbase behind them, deep down we know the band are doing the best they can and killing it and they will always have our group supporting them for the long haul.
Whilst this tour has been all sorts of amazing, I wish we could have seen/heard ‘Rooftop To The Street’ or ‘In The First Place’ at least one more time so I could have closure on that part of my life. ‘Rooftop To The Street’ and ‘In The First Place’ both haven’t been played since before The Other Side was released back in 2013 and lets be real, they’re both absolute bangers so it’s a real shame that there were only two old songs played on a tour about beginnings.
All in all, tour was mad, the memories have been mad but we have really, really missed Whak and his presence on this tour and I think we always will to be honest so, Whak if you’re for some reason reading this, thank you for everything, we wish you all the best with whatever you’re doing now and we miss you already.
Words by Renae Egan… and Fam.