UNIFY Gathering 2019
Tarwin Lower, VIC
January 9-12, 2020
Featuring: Architects, The Ghost Inside, Northlane, Polaris, Silverstein, Tonight Alive & Friends, Make Them Suffer, Stray From The Path, Dear Seattle, Void of Vision, Antagonist AD, Knocked Loose, Tired Lion, Kublai Khan TX, The Beautiful Monument, Eat Your Heart Out, Between You and Me, The Brave, Diamond Construct, Columbus, Tapestry, Sleep Talk, Weighbridge and Something Something Explosion
One of the first things I’ll say about UNIFY Gathering is that if you’re a fan in any way of the heavy scene, you need to experience this festival. No other festival I’ve been to has such a warm and friendly community of people, and I’m saying that as someone who rocked up to UNIFY four years ago as a solo punter and since then my UNIFY crew just keeps building year by year almost too easily.
You make friends with the tent next door, hug someone from that crew who give out mosh hugs, accidentally join in on a beer pong game, and there’s always someone willing to launch you from the crowd into the air. You’ll bump into people year after year that you didn’t think you’d see again, but here they are because once you’ve been to one, you can’t miss out. It’s just that kind of festival.
And 2020 was no different; great people, bands and times.
Intro by Ebony Story
Early Access passes seemed to be hugely popular this year, and for good reason – the pre-party line up was totally worth it. And despite the festival not even officially starting yet, sooo many people really went hard for a Thursday night. It was great.
It was also a good opportunity to scope out the layout, and I have to say that 2019 had the better set up. Putting the Circus Tent past the Arena gates meant that you couldn’t shelter there from the weather or hang out, and a bunch of the food trucks were also behind the gates as well which really limited food options when the Arena was closed. But hey, everyone knows your campsite is really where the party’s at. At least until the bands come on.
This is one of those bands that I’d been meaning to check out for ages, and they didn’t disappoint. They had great energy and the boys killed it. Dream State‘s vocalist CJ jumped up on stage for track and the crowd went mad. They also played a brand new song, never played before and unreleased called ‘Drag Me Under‘, it’s a banger so keep your eye out for that one this year.
The Gloom In The Corner
One of our favourite bands from Big Sound 2019, it was super exciting to see these guys again. Unfortunately for everyone, major technical difficulties hindered the band from playing for a good 20 minutes. But when they finally sorted it, they came out with a fierce performance. They’re aptly named, I think, because they have a gloomy/dark presence that compliments their brutality and intensity. This is a must see band.
I’m not really sure what to say about these guys, but ok, imagine one of the most aggressive mosh pits you’ve seen, and then put it in a small undercover tent. It was heated and cramped; there were flailing arms and legs everywhere and they brought the heavy alright.
Honestly, it’s always a good time with these guys. They put the effort in, work the crowd and look damn good while doing it. It was guitarist/vocalist Liam Guinane’s last show playing with the band and look, it was a pretty good send off when he crowd surfed while playing guitar. Will King is a powerful vocalist and performer, and those heavy melodies just set the stage for the entire weekend. If Thursday nights are an audition for upcoming bands to be playing the main stage in future years, yeah, I think they nailed it.
AM/PM DJ Set
Are most people who go to UNIFY clubbers? Probably not, but if there was a club that played the tracks the DJs spun, it would be popular even on a weeknight. There were so many emo bangers from back in the day that I tried to leave for about four songs but couldn’t because they were so good. And besides, you know it’s good when there’s a mosh pit to a DJ set.
You may have heard of all the weather troubles on Friday but let me break it down real quick for you. It sucked. Gale force winds up to 90kph and sleeting rain for a good portion of the day. It was so serious that the main stage was partially dismantled to protect the equipment and reduce the danger of anything going flying, and UNIFY workers/volunteers visited campsites warning people to take down their shelters and tents – even suggesting sheltering in cars it was going to be that bad. Obviously, with the main stage out of action bands couldn’t play at their scheduled time. There were people who had given up and just walked through puddles with their already soaking shoes, and even a guy who had cut out arm holes on a Coles bag to use as a rain vest.
The band schedule was majorly changed with most bands playing the Circus Tent, and when the weather finally died down around 6pm, a Welcome to Country ceremony was performed and the bands finally kicked off.
These guys drew a big crowd! Whether it was people sheltering from the weather or just the fact that this is a loved band with a great following, it was amazing to see so many people in the pit supporting a band that moved from Darwin to Melbourne to make magic happen. And look at them now.
Awesomely heavy and super impressive vocals. These guys were tight and really encouraged the crowd to get right into it. Think circle pits for days. Ugh, so good.
It always amazes me – Sophie Hopes has such big vocals for such a small person! What a fun band to be in the crowd for and a great pick me up on such a grey, rainy day. I was on the fence with this band for so long, you know I just never really got into them, but I’ve officially hopped off the fence and am loving it thanks to this set.
These guys would’ve been even better on the main stage, but weather waits for no one and they made do in the Circus Tent as well. They brought the big stage feels though and really worked the stage. There were crowd surfers galore and the outside weather was forgotten. And when they played ‘Burn It Down‘, oh gosh was that a moment. The set closed with ‘Afterglow‘ and with the last bout of energy punters had, they threw themselves on top of each other belting out the words as loud as they could.
This is such an easy band to watch. Easy to sing to, easy to dance to and easy to love. They have that likeable quality and boyish smiles that win everyone over. And when they brought out their Missy Higgins cover of ‘The Special Two‘, I think everyone melted.
And with Architects, we finally made it out to the main stage! What can I say, there’s a reason they’re in such high demand here in Australia, good music, good times and good guys. Vocalist Sam Carter spoke about the fires, the animal and human lives lost and urged everyone to do what they could about it whether it was donating or spreading awareness. A “Fuck Scomo” chant broke out and that angry energy was soon put into a song. It was a bit special when they played ‘A Match Made In Heaven‘. They dedicated it to The Ghost Inside because it was the song they were writing when they heard of their bus accident, and Architects then started a “Ghost Inside” chant in support of the band. What a wholesome atmosphere! Where can you find anything else like this? It was a brilliant end to a very difficult day.
ARCHITECTS x UNIFY Gathering 😍😍😍
Posted by Wall Of Sound on Friday, January 10, 2020
Forget about food envy, it was tent envy on Saturday morning, and the only thing that could make it better was a bacon and egg sanga from the Tarwin Sharks. Saturday featured a whole bunch of bands that didn’t manage to play on Friday, including Northlane, which meant the final four bands of the night were Tonight Alive & Friends, Polaris, Northlane and The Ghost Inside. Uh, yes thanks! It was going to be a packed day with other bands playing the Circus Tent as well. It ran smoothly and everyone was happy.
If you’ll be missing Liam from Windwaker, here’s where you catch him from now on. A very upbeat alt rock band, these guys boast spot on vocals and emotive melodies. And for an opening slot these guys had a great turn out. And hey, check out their merch ad they played at the end of their set if you need a good laugh.
For those who didn’t catch our set on Saturday or if you perhaps did and are just wanting to relive a bit of it, we decided to share a little something we made for the show at UNIFY Gathering with you all.
Live by the snag, die by the snag.
Posted by Reside on Monday, January 13, 2020
These guys were one of my favourite bands of 2019, I was super excited to see them play UNIFY and they did not disappoint. Their music translates so well live and the raw energy they produce is almost physical. The sun even came out during their set which was almost as good as the new song they played called ‘Charge‘.
These guys played a massive set with every song hitting home. They looked very much at ease on the main stage and ‘Technicolor‘ was a favourite. Chucking in a cover of Blur‘s ‘Song 2‘ was a very smart play too and one that the crowd were impressed by.
Talk about a packed out crowd for a 4pm slot. If someone’s teeth weren’t knocked loose (lol) from the throwdowns in the pit I would be very surprised and there is actually a rumour that someone broke their ankle in the pit. There was even some dude sitting on his mate’s shoulders running around the circle pit as well as a hilarious Pikachu moshing which really set the tone of what UNIFY is all about. Fun and heaviness. What a time with those heavy grooves.
Only at UNIFY will you catch a Pikachu in the mosh during Knocked Loose…
Posted by Wall Of Sound on Friday, January 10, 2020
Void of Vision
The VoV boys have really been killing it lately while overseas on some major tours and some huge Aus shows too. And no doubt, there’s something intense and wild about their live performance. ‘Kill All My Friends‘ was a huge track and vocalist Jack Bergin took it next level and climbed the scaffolding to scream out the lyrics.
Tonight Alive & Friends
Oh my gosh, one of the bands that we’re really missing on the tour circuit right now is Tonight Alive. I cannot speak highly enough of vocalist Jenna McDougall and all she stands for. To see this band come out of hiatus for a show with friends was such a highlight. We had visits from Maz (WAAX) and Matt (previously of Hellions) for a cover of Mumford and Sons‘ ‘Little Lion Man‘, CJ Gilpin from Dream State during ‘Lonely Girl‘ and perhaps most notably because they’ve never played this song live before, Marcus Bridge (Northlane) featuring on ‘My Underworld‘. There was a roaring cheer as that song ended and before Marcus walked off he did the Will Smith pose presenting Jenna to everyone. Closing on ‘Temple‘ we were treated with one more guest appearance, Dre (Hellions), and it was a damn party.
Polaris have moved up in leaps and bounds, from playing an early arvo set a couple of years ago to now playing just before the headliners. And I’ll tell you, it felt like a closing set. With two new songs very recently released, the hype for their forthcoming album was real and the excitement in the crowd was even more so. The boys played ‘Regress‘ and said this song was more relevant than ever because where’s the progress of our society? And let’s not forget that wall of death. It was maybe one of the biggest wall of deaths that UNIFY has ever seen? (Parkway’s will always be no.1) Anyway, picture this: the breakdown in ‘Consume‘ is coming up and frontman Jamie Hails is screaming for everyone to split it open, to split it open as far back as the sound desk. The tension is building, people are running excitedly through the open space and then the breakdown drops and everyone collides.
Set highlights also including the band’s two new singles ‘Hypermania‘ and ‘Masochist‘ getting a spin, much to the approval of awaiting fans who threw their bodies around and sang along as loud as they possibly could.
Coming into 2020 with an amazing album under their belt, and arguably the best release of 2019, UNIFY was an amazing place to showcase their big sound and how they just keep climbing up and up. Opening with ‘Details Matter‘ they came out guns blazing and never let down the entire set. Masks covering their faces lent a dangerous quality, and the Co2 jets really punctuated their performance. We heard a lot of tracks from Alien and a few from previous albums including ‘Quantum Flux‘ (personal favourite right there) and ‘Rot‘. But really, all their songs are good, what really stood out was their stage presence and how they vibed off the crowd. Frontman Marcus Bridge‘s vocals were so on point it’s incredible to see his progression from when he first joined the band, to now! The boys delivered a killer set that could have well and truly been that of a closing headliner slot. UNIFY take note for future years, they’re the next Australia band who can do it!
The Ghost Inside
The big dogs returned to Australia for their second comeback show since their tragic bus accident and the hope and determination they have to get back on stage again. Looking around the crowd, you could see eyes watering up and tears flowing as they bashed through a stack of absolute bangers from their back catalogue including ‘Avalanche’, ‘Unspoken’, ‘Mercy‘, ‘Dear Youth (Day 52)’, ‘Move Me’, ‘Dark Horse’, ‘Phoenix Flame’ and of course, the epic climax of ‘Engine 45’.
Last night we welcomed The Ghost Inside back to Australia at UNIFY Gathering and it was glorious…
Posted by Wall Of Sound on Saturday, January 11, 2020
The guys, visibly pushing themselves to their limits, took time out to address the crowd and talk about their accident and recovery process and how they all worked together to get back on stage again. It was one of the most awe-inspiring moments of the festival (not to mention our entire gigging lives) where everyone had their eyes glued to the stage waiting with bated breath to hear/see what would happen next. Our very own head honcho Browny also copped a shout out for, umm, the time he shit himself which was brought up in conversation a few hours beforehand when he sat down with the band for UNIFY TV (that interview and story coming soon…). During the set, a group of guys close to the barrier had set up a “crowd surfer launch area” where they were literally flinging bodies through the air towards the awaiting security members ready to catch them. It was surreal seeing this band playing with body after body flying over your head, many of whom were singing along at the same time. It surely made for a bit of extra fun!
Lots of bands took some time on stage to speak about the state our country is in, with shoddy leadership, catastrophic fires and deaths of both animals and humans. Some feeling conflicted that here they were playing a festival and having the time of their lives while the fight is on to save our land from burning. And so we urge you, the readers, just like the bands urged you, the fans, to donate what you can. Give what you can, and keep the talks on climate change alive.
Despite the hiccups with the weather (we can’t control mother nature… yet), festival organisers did their absolute best to make sure each and every band got the chance to play, which is a testament to the crew they have working behind the scenes. What a lot of punters don’t get the chance to see if how hard and fast they were working to rectify the issue so the team here at Wall of Sound would like to commend them all, including festival workers, for getting us all the way to the very end with smiles on our faces and tears in our eyes. A HUUUGE thanks to everyone who stopped the Wall of Sound crew for a chat, it means the world to us you’re enjoying what we’re doing. It’s all for you at the end of the day so we appreciate it to the moon and back that you’re digging it!!!
Until next time UNIFY… love you xoxo
Festival Review by Ebony Story and Browny @brownypaul
Thursday – AM//PM Emo Nite Pre-Party
The Gloom In The Corner
Something Something Explosion
Kublai Khan TX
Between You And Me
Make Them Suffer
Eat Your Heart Out
Void of Vision
The Beautiful Monument
Stray From The Path
Tonight Alive & Friends
The Ghost Inside