Four Year Strong
Arrow on Swanston, Melbourne VIC
Jan 11th, 2018
Support: Knocked Loose
A balmy afternoon saw Four Year Strong fans young and old tip into the basement of what appears to be a half-block sized, half-built hotel and business centre that’s run out of money mid-investment. The rudimentary stage, atrocious, stoic stage lighting, and whatever-we-could-get aesthetic of the venue itself helped the whole show feel like a Freeza gig from the early 2000’s; a rather fitting effect considering the genre.
Having abandoned their 18+ gig at The Corner a night previous due to bad weather flying out of The States, adult FYS fans who’d planned on a rousing, drunken singalong with their favourite Easycore pioneers were out of luck. The makeshift underage venue Arrow on Swanston… WAS UNLICENSED. Luckily, The Queensbury pub just on the opposite corner was more than accommodating within its sterling, comfortable, old-fashioned walls, and ten dollar pints on tap. This surely prevented many grown-up punters from a flat-out riot and helped bring life to what was – at parts – just a little bit of a glib gig.
Due to time constraints from the last minute switch of nights, your humble WoS reviewer/ photographer only arrived from daytime work in time to see Kentuckians Knocked Loose erupt straight up angry-ass hardcore right into everyone’s face on their sophomore trip down under. It was very loud, very exciting, clearly engaging to the younger, less jaded half of the audience, and certainly got the circle pit enthusiasts all warmed up. An effective and characterful support, indeed. Pocket rocket frontman Bryan Garris was a particular highlight, although his spasmodic movement about stage made him literally impossible to photograph, like some kind of rare element, or tiny nocturnal lizard on the BBC.
Another beer run to The Queensbury after Knocked Loose’s rollicking set crescendo was on the cards for dozens of thirsty headbangers, before we very obviously worn out, travel-weary, lost-guitars-in-baggage, and out-of-pocket-a-whole-gig-worth-of-merch melodic hardcore stalwart heroes took to the stage. I’m in no way having a dig, fellas, and the aforementioned reasons for the lack of energy throughout the gig are pure speculation. But the dots connect from where I’m sitting, and some friends at the gig noticed and deduced similarly after the show was done. Infamously pretty-eyed frontman Alan Day seemed particularly disenfranchised, showing almost zero acknowledgements to a crowd of many folks that’d put their shit aside a night to come sing every word to songs he and his band wrote a decade ago. Such behaviour seems unfair to this 20-something-year gig going veteran that long-ago realised shows are 100% teamwork from everyone in the place. Voiceless lulls between songs and an air of disinterestedness from the main act made it feel like they were letting the team down a bit. Fellow frontman Dan O’Connor did all of the talking and did at least reiterate the band’s thanks for our attendance.
Those small set criticisms aside, the power of Four Year Strong’s music and their capacity to very loudly and spiritedly deliver it certainly still made the show worthwhile. A decade on and seminal Easycore watermark album Rise Or Die Trying hasn’t lost an inch of its anthemic, infectious, and unequivocally exciting lustre. Two partially healed broken toes didn’t stop this journo from leaping the fuck around the pit like a fucking maniac for precisely two songs before – exhausted, sore, and sweaty – I retreated back to the photo pit for some quiet time while the youngsters ceaselessly churned to a bunch of very good songs that came out when they were seven. A couple of highlights off other albums polished off the delivery of their most popular LP, but the lack of encore was shitty. I get they’re a bit of a contrivance these days, but heaps of folks there with jobs, kids, wives, etc. changed plans and worked that bit harder to watch you play. What’s a few extra songs in the basement of an abandoned hotel to say thanks? It’s your band’s name on their new $35 shirts, homies… help us out.
Here’s hoping Unify perks these dudes up once they settle for their briefer-than-expected whip around our big dry country. Thank you to FYS for the awesome purple/ yellow vinyl reissue of RODT, and beautiful set of ball-tearing anthems that brought me out of moshing retirement at 31 years old. Sorry, your globe-trotting logistics fucked you up so bad. You’re still very great.
NOTE: These photos are the worst. The lighting fucking sucked and remained unchanged all night. Why they didn’t get someone to do it from any of the dozens of places that freelance lighting technicians in Melbourne are beyond me. Apologies for their dim, photoshopped shabbiness.
Review and (awful) Photo Gallery by the legendary Todd Gingell
Please credit Wall of Sound and Todd Gingell if you repost.
Four Year Strong
Four Year Strong – Rise or Die Trying Anniversary Tour
with Knocked Loose
Tues Jan 16th @ The Triffid, Brisbane QLD