He Is Legend – Gig Review 20th May @ Stay Gold, Melb VIC

He Is Legend 
Stay Gold, Melbourne VIC
May 20, 2023
Support: Captives and Hammers

Sadly, I wasn’t able to catch Captives, the local openers for He Is Legend’s first Aussie run in eight years. As I was bailed up at a wedding earlier that afternoon and I live rurally. So don’t blame me, alright, blame my mates for getting married after being together for like 10-plus years. The selfish, deeply in love gits. Anyway! I was, however, able to watch the tour’s main support, Hammers.

Hammers bassist, Rick Trewavas, is actually the agent for this tour’s promoter, Beats Cartel. As a firm He Is Legend enjoyer, I must send big props to the promoter and Trewavas (as well as the tour’s publicist, Tiana Speter) for all helping to bring out HIL again and make this happen.

I preface this part about Hammers with positivity first, as I now admit that they’re not really my cup of tea. While a decent fit for the tour, and while I appreciated Trewavas’ fuzzy tone, vocalist Leigh Dowling jumping around on-stage or being down on the floor to try and work the crowd, and drummer Ryan Lucas‘ dope leopard pants and fur coat (I’m a shallow guy, okay?), their overall style and songwriting did little for me. Their particular mix of hard rock, blues, and stoner with some Aussie-battler, Occa tones through it went down well with portions of the crowd, but it wasn’t for me, sorry. Music tastes aside, they are a band that’s clearly passionate. A band who wishes to lift up the whole of this country’s local heavy music scenes and I respect that; their bassist was rocking a shirt for their fellow bruising Queenslanders, Crave Death, for their latest single. Love to see it.

Okay, main course. I’ll keep it simple: He Is Legend were good. They were really fucking good! This is a band who are so confident in what they do, whose performances are tighter than a Chemist Warehouse aisle, with so much material to pull from now, that you can almost always guarantee a decent time. No matter the environment, whether it’s a big festival stage or a small club show like this.

Singer Schuylar Croom looks like Charles Manson but with much better fashion senses and much less crazy. He sounds like a goblin who smokes ten packs a day when speaking but then opens his mouth on the mic and croons, screams and howls like a talented maniac. It’s rad! Drummer Jesse Shelley is a monster hitter, and when you look at his career, drumming for Sleepwave (Spencer Chamberlain’s other band) and on some Being As An Ocean material (their 2017 album), you see and feel the true aggro experience in his playing. Bassist Matty Williams was almost constantly headbanging and grooving, his long straight hair whipping around constantly, he and his bandmates’ amps all cranked hard. So much so that you might’ve needed to move places while watching in order to hear Croom. You know; acoustics, physics and all that science shit. (Annoyingly, though, the backing vocals from touring guitarist Zachary Nobles were mixed louder than Croom’s at times. Neither one’s fault but it was really noticeable.)

Let’s talk setlist. For one, just so many riffs, man! Off last year’s dope Endless Hallway? A few strong cuts like ‘The Prowler,’ the catchy-as-hell ‘Sour,’ and my top pick from the album, ‘Return To The Garden.’ From White Bat? Well, the wicked title track kicked the whole shebang off, with ‘Burn All Your Rock Records,’ ‘Eye Teeth‘ (dedicated to a couple who were following the tour and who got engaged at the first show), and ‘Boogiewoman‘ got sprinkled throughout. Old heads, I see ya! ‘The Seduction‘ cooly appeared early on, ‘The Window of Magnolia‘ landed with a bang mid-set, and the dissonant party-rager of ‘I Am Hollywood‘ capped things off.

That’s Nasty!‘ sounded stupidly heavy and chunky within the smaller confines of Stay Gold, and the expected but nonetheless sick instance of ‘Everyone I Know Has Fangs‘ – the first HIL song I ever heard back in the day, one of my personal favourites by them – went down like smooth whiskey. Even typing this out, I can hear the closing yelled section of ‘Fangs‘ in the back of my head: “Now I got a party at my door, and I’m laying on the floor…”

It was a solid balance of everything. Well, almost everything. As I expected going in, nothing came off 2014’s excellent black sheep LP, Heavy Fruit. A shame but I knew that from the drop. However, there was also not even a song from 2017’s few. – I felt either of its singles would’ve worked fine within this set. Oh well, beggars can’t be choosers and there’s only so much stage time you’re given. To a high degree, I was just stocked to have finally seen the band live. And I feel I wasn’t alone in that sentiment.

One big surprise was a heavy-ass HIL rendition of ‘Zero‘ by The Smashing Pumpkins in the wind-down of the set. “We didn’t write this so don’t hate us for it” joked Croom as the band launched into it. Would I have preferred one of their own songs in lieu of this cover? Absolutely, but recall what I said about beggars and choosing? Swings and roundabouts. There’s also the fact that while I acknowledge what they did for a whole generation of artists to follow, I’m just not that big on Billy Corgan and his cohorts. Maybe that’s just my age though, so who knows? (I’m 28 and I felt like one of the youngest audience members present. For reference, there was a middle-aged bloke wearing a Darkest Hour shirt – sick band, listen to Ruin – walking around.) Thankfully, it was at least a pretty sweet cover, admittedly.

Hammers guitarist, Lucas Stone, whose been around the Queensland scene for a minute now, mentioned in their set that their headlining U.S. compadres are one of the last remaining real rock bands. A support act saying big complimentary things about the headliner? Unique stuff! But no, in all seriousness, there’s some kernel of truth in what he said. As He Is Legend has been around for some twenty years, have evolved their sound since 2004 but are still heavy, riffy and full of rockin’ grit. They’re here to party, have a good time, play shit loud and proud, and stay true to their art and fans without problematic any bullshit. They’re authentic. They’re sincere.

Importantly, they’re dedicated to the people who are dedicated to them. They’re not one of the biggest rock bands around, and likely never will be, and they know it. Yet everything given back means a lot to this band: “You came to see us on a Saturday night, instead of seeing, I don’t know, Guardians of the Galaxy or something,” Croom mentioned at one point. (No worries bro, I saw Guardians opening week.) As soon ‘I Am Hollywood’ ended their set, this thankfulness was apparent. Croom was on the floor meeting fans and getting photos. A friend of mine got his HIL records signed by them and got to nerd out with guitarist Adam Tanbouz about gear. This is a band that cares for the people who care for them; whose time, listenership, and money keep it all ongoing. With the small but truly cult status they’ve cultivated, I wouldn’t be surprised if the band make it another twenty or so years. For now… I just hope it’s not another eight goddamn years before they come back this way.

Gig Review by Alex Sievers.

He Is Legend – Australian Tour 2023
w/ Hammers


Tickets Here!