UNIFY Gathering 2019
Tarwin Meadows, VIC
January 11-13, 2019
Featuring: Underoath, Karnivool, Every Time I Die, Dream State, Trophy Eyes, Ocean Grove, In Hearts Wake, Hellions, Hand of Mercy, State Champs, While She Sleeps, Clowns, The Plot In You, Turnstile, WAAX, Pagan, Gravemind, Ocean Sleeper, Drown This City, Dream on Dreamer, Crossfaith, Yours Truly, Pridelands and heaps more…
Ah UNIFY, one of Australia’s smallest, yet most welcoming Music Festivals held it’s fifth Sold Out outing at a newer, bigger location located just down the road from the old venue in Tarwin Lower, VIC and you better believe a whoooole stack of heavy music fans had made the venture down to check out the new digs, new bands and new offerings (including the AM//PM Pre-UNIFY Party in the campgrounds on Thursday night).
The new location boasted a wider area to sit and watch the bands on stage or get right up close to the action with plenty of food stalls, bars water stations and even the fucking Kamakazi ride from the old school days of Big Day Out. It was also surreal walking around seeing farm animal bones throughout the venue which brought back the reminder of just how regional this town was. Outside of the actual pit venue (where the stage was), there were more food options, a convenience store and rides, tent with stage + the photo op entrance gate surrounded by a sea of tents, it really showcased just how popular this festival was with a sea of them sprawled all across the massive area.
UNIFY is more than just a music festival, it’s an adventure, an experience and a half and a way to make lifelong new friends in one handy location. Special shout out to Lincoln, Kobi, Courtney, Rocco and Alex from Stratford, VIC and Danielle from Melb for taking us under their wing (and marquee) when we realised we packed the wrong tent and ended up with a bloody change room (dubbed the Tardis) instead…
My (Browny) trek to Tarwin Lower started a bit later than usual due to complications with finding our car rental joint (who hadn’t updated their new address, idiots) so we managed to arrive at UNIFY just as Better Half had taken to the stage, welcoming the small, yet keen crowd who made their way inside to kick off the festivities right. Although there were merely a handful of people at the point when we ran past towards the media tent, the band played loud and proud like there were thousands in front of them. I’d be keen to catch them again as one song was enough to catch my attention and pique my interest with them.
Drown This City
The Melbournians stormed onto the stage with a purpose, to catch the attention of everyone in attendance with frontwoman Alex Reade wasting no time succeeding in their mission combining her cleans and screams which in turn sent chills up my spine. Despite only catching two songs (between interviews), they had improved so much since we last caught them at Big Sound back in 2017.
One of the bands who I had been counting down the days to finally catch live impressed me so much I had to delay heading back to the media tent just so I could see more. They had pulled a decent crowd for their debut Australian performance with frontwoman CJ Gilpin proving she has an incredibly moving vocal range and can pull off those softer screams (she does on their latest EP Recovery), just as good in a live setting. When we asked the band if they were heading home straight after their set, they told us they were here for a week to do some writing and we even caught them getting amongst the madness the following day as well so the unbearable heat and dust didn’t scare them off. Closing song ‘White Lies‘ pulled the biggest praise and cheer from the punters and luckily for them/us, the band revealed they’ll be back soon so everyone else who missed them or couldn’t go can have a chance to see their new fav UK band live.
Hand of Mercy
Sydney’s notorious HoM pulled one of the best and most energetic crowds of the event and despite the fact the band called it quits 3 years ago, once they hit that stage it was as if no time had passed. Check out the video below of the final song the boys will ever play together…..
For those who missed it (or those who want to relive it) here is the last song Hand Of Mercy will ever play on stage together at UNIFY Gathering… #RIPHandOfMercy
📽: Browny #WoSDoesUnify #UNIFY2019
Posted by Wall Of Sound on Monday, January 14, 2019
After the first run of interviews had ended, I ran my fat little arse outside to catch the last ever Ocean Grove performance to feature frontman Luke Holmes and guitarist Jimmy Hall, who shockingly announced their departure a few weeks back when the band unleashed their powerful new single ‘Glass Gloss‘ which went off fucking live mind you. The set started with a video montage of the past decade which no doubt resulted in a few teardrops falling from the fans most keen and loyal fans. Their pyro was fucking insane and they even had a surprise cameo by Karnivool front Ian Kenny which just added to the awesomeness that was. The band took a bow at the end and, I don’t know how to feel about it all, but I still feel sad, yet excited for the future of OG.
In Hearts Wake
With the band embarking on their Summer Setlist Tour (which is also the band’s ONLY headline shows for 2019 in Australia), their setlist was hand picked by the fans which not only featured a classic throwback to their early years with ‘The Night Is For Hunting‘ but a proposal mid-show with a couple dropping knee and exchanging vowels. Luckily, the response was a “yes” and the band played their first ever live acoustic rendition of ‘Wildflower‘. There were cameos galore with members of Crossfaith and While She Sleeps dropping by for a sing and this old bloke (me) ate his own words, enjoying the set more than I thought I would.
The prog-masters from Perth and I have had a very rocky relationship with live shows, before UNIFY, I had never seen an entire performance by this band, mainly because about 10 years ago I copped an elbow to the head which consequently made me drop like a sack of shit and miss the entire show. Not this time though. I survived the entire set safe and sound which included absolute bangers like ‘Goliath‘, ‘Simple Boy‘, ‘Set Fire To The Hive‘, ‘Themata‘ and the chantastic sing-a-long track ‘New Day‘. It was a very older crowd in the mosh, but very comforting to see the youngins getting all in there and giving it their all too, despite only being toddlers when the band’s older albums had come out.
If anyone needed a spirit animal to make it though Underoath‘s 1am set, all you needed to do was just watch keyboardist Chris Dudley smashing his head angrily up and down while the band smashed through an energetic and light-filled headline show to wrap up the first day. Frontman Spencer Chamberlain threw himself across the stage screaming his lungs out while drummer/singer Aaron Gillespie pounded away on his platform alongside the rest of the band. Highlights definitely included tracks from the band’s new album Erase Me including ‘Rapture‘, ‘ihateit‘ and the Grammy nominated ‘On My Teeth‘ but throwbacks like ‘Reinventing Your Exit‘ and ‘Writing On The Walls‘ generated the biggest and best response. I think due to the band playing so late, there were a lack of attendees in the pit, but those who waited all day for the US legends to come on, certainly got their money and time’s worth.
After heading to Shark’s for a bacon and egg roll and three hash browns (seriously this was the ONLY way to start your day) we ventured back to smash out another day of interviews but not before catching the opening track for Pridelands, who actually sounded pretty fucking good mind you. I was keen to check out more (but was running late), so I’ll have to catch them on their next run up the east coast. They definitely deserved their spot after winning their way onto the lineup via Triple J Unearthed.
You want heavy? You had to be at Gravemind‘s set. Decked out in black and long pants (a rule imposed by frontman Dylan Gillies-Parsons) the boys powered through their brutal set, which sounded so much bigger, louder and heavier than the last time we caught them at Big Sound 2018 in Brisbane. Fan favourite track ‘Lifelike‘ generated the biggest praise (and mosh) but they also generated a few new fans who had stumbled upon their set by chance. These guys will fucking explode this year, I absolutely 100% guarantee that.
After their debut album Black Wash impressed fans (and ended up in several Wall of Sound staff’s Year In Reviews last month), the Italian foursome hit the stage two years after their first appearance at UNIFY, only this time, they weren’t Unearthed winners. Playing through a collection of tracks from the new album including ‘Silver‘, ‘Death Before Disco‘ and ‘Imitate Me‘ the crowd willingly got into the dancing mood jumping around and nodding furiously. Frontwoman Nikki Brumen, who is renowned for standing her ground and standing up for women and the LGBTI community with the music industry even took a stab at Prom Queen/Michael Crafter who infamously was taken off the lineup after old social media comments surfaced. Pagan are great, always have been and always will be and this was just a taste of what is still to come from the Melbournians.
Also reigning from Melb was the Clowns punks who fired on all cylinders playing a stack of fan favs like ‘Dropped My Brain‘, ‘Pickle‘ and ‘I Shaved My Legs for You‘. Guitarist Hanny J was insane jamming away while frontman Stevie Williams threw himself anywhere he could, including the crowd and various stage poles. For those of you situation in front of the sound stage, once Stevie called for a “circle pit”, a bunch of us pulled out our Gentle Mosh ™ antics from UNIFY‘s of years past which involves slowing everything down to a mere walking pace as to not injure ourselves or anyone around us. Some puters got into it, others got a laugh, but if you’re too old for the heavier stuff, come find us next year and join in.
I’ll admit this, I’m not the biggest fan of new-age pop punk (e.g. State Champs, Neck Deep etc) but I got a real kick out of this band’s live performance which proves, you can’t judge a band by their album/cd etc I only copped the last two songs of the set including ‘Secrets‘ which was, actually really fucking good. I may even start making up for lost time and seeing what else the guys have in the back catalogue once this workload subsides, until then, good job SC.
Now this, this is how you do a UNIFY set. From the minute these legends took to the stage they had the crowd in the palms of their hands. The drums played out in the background which resulted in us singing Queen‘s ‘We Will Rock You‘, only for the band to start singing the exact same song (totally didn’t know that’s what they were going into) before changing the tempo and getting into the party jam ‘You Can Count On Me‘ which, holy fucking shit, was incredible. Some of the tracks from the setlist included ‘Lavender Bay‘, ‘Friday Forever‘ and ‘Chlorine‘, but the band’s performance wasn’t just about them on stage, it was everyone who had congregated in the pit area to see them and how far they’ve come. There were thousands upon thousands of fans there watching and singing along and I for one, now consider myself a fan of Trophy Eyes. I can’t believe it took me this long to see a show and I am kicking myself for it. Apologies to TE and the mates and associates who tried to get me to go along earlier. I take full responsibility for that.
What an amazing weekend on our brand new site. Thank you for being apart of it!
If you have PITCOIN leftover, you can…
Every Time I Die
The main event. The big one. The one band I had waited all weekend to catch took to the stage and I (somehow) scored a spot right on the barrier which just made the whole experience even better. ETID, Buffalo’s finest wasted no time of their 40 minute only set (yes, they flew 25 hours across the globe, just to play one show and then fly back the next morning. THAT IS FUCKING COMMITMENT) by smashing through a plethora of old and new belters such as ‘Decayin’ With The Boys‘, ‘Glitches‘, ‘Bored Stiff‘ (which they had to stop 20 seconds into because the circle pit frontman Keith Buckley asked for wasn’t big enough for the band’s efforts), ‘The New Black‘, ‘We’rewolf‘, ‘The Marvellous Slut‘, ‘Underwater Bimbos from Outer Space‘, ‘Thirst‘, ‘It Remembers‘, ‘The Coin Has a Say‘ and wrapping it all up with ‘Map Change‘ from their latest offering Low Teens. No new songs here as the band are still playing the shit out of that album three years since its release, with the only significant changes being guitarist Jordan Buckley‘s sweeet mullet, fellow shredmaster Andy Williams looking like a fucking RIG these days since becoming a Pro Wrestler, bassist Stephen Micciche recovering from an incident which saw his guitar case busted up upon entry to Australia and the band’s new drummer Clayton “Goose” Holyoak smashing away on the kit, for the first time in Australia? I’m not sure about that. Despite missing several moments of the set due to the sheer amount of crowd surfers coming over the barrier and making the legendary security guards work for their money, it was a fucking loud, proud and killer way to wrap up my UNIFY 2019 experience… Yes, I was fucked and went to bed after this effort. In saying that there was something special about falling asleep while hearing Taking Back Sunday playing in the background, but this old man can’t handle festivals like he used to.
In closing, UNIFY Gathering was great. A wide and eclectic array of bands for all musical tastes added to the weekend of drinking, eating, camping and playing hide and seek with the glaringly dominating sun. If you haven’t experienced this festival yet, you need to change this post haste. Seriously, as I mentioned earlier the festival is only part of the whole experience you can have, it’s what else you do with your time that really adds to the whole weekend adventure. Now though, it’s time to diet, detox and start preparing for 2020. Much love to you all and thank you to the legends behind the event for having us come along and share in the festivities and to EVERYONE who stopped me/the Wall of Sound crew, thank you for your comments and thoughts on what we’re doing with the site. We do this for you and the fact you went out of your way to let us know we’re doing alright means the fucking world to us. You’re the real rockstars here.
Festival Review by Browny @brownypaul
Make sure you check out our Wall of Sound UNIFY Special Podcast featuring interviews with the bands backstage conducted by Browny, our UNIFY Intern Adam Rice and a very special gatecrasher. It’s out now right here
Drown This City
Hand Of Mercy
The Plot In You
Dream On Dreamer
While She Sleeps
In Hearts Wake
Every Time I Die
Taking Back Sunday
UNIFY Crowd Shots