UNIFY Off The Record
Hindley Street Music Hall, Adelaide SA
Friday 26th May 2023
Feat: Teenage Joans, Thornhill, Ocean Grove, Yours Truly, alt., The Gloom In The Corner, The Beautiful Monument, The Last Martyr and Wildheart.
“If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.” – Jim Rohn.
There was a nationwide feeling of melancholy from an immeasurable amount of heavy music aficionados with the announcement that the acclaimed and adored Unify Gathering was not going to take place in 2023 at Tarwin, Victoria. The camping festival had become a highlighted event for musicians, metalheads, punk rockers, alternative music lovers and so many more to an international level since 2015; its success called for constant expansions in multiple avenues including location and it seemed that the loss of Soundwave Festival had become a bit more tolerable.
So what could replace this outdoor tent-living extravaganza? Instead of “replace” the event, the fine people of UNIFY “refashioned” this festival idea with an unusual approach: Five separate mini-festivals to occur in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. This was a risk undoubtedly – but as Mr. Rohn’s aforementioned statement indicates, there is to be no settling on ordinary, especially in the alternative music world.
After an inspirational “Welcome To Country” speech by Rosalind Coleman, the Deputy Chair of the Kaurna Yerta Aboriginal Corporation; this included a Didgeridoo performance and discussion about the history of the Kaurna lands as well as the importance of the music and arts in how it unifies us all, it was time to begin. Queensland’s melodic hardcore outfit Wildheart had the difficult task of warming up an understandably small crowd as it was 4pm on a Friday afternoon; however, they let their collective hearts run wild to get the audience inspirited. Comparisons to Comeback Kid and the undervalued Mikoto would be a befitting instruction, yet there is a lot more to the recipe than this. The cover of Goanna’s ‘Solid Rock’ with a guest appearance from The Last Martyr’s Monica Strut was an injection of adrenaline and awareness the crowd absorbed wholeheartedly; it reminded this writer of the time Alexisonfire interpreted Midnight Oil’s ‘The Dead Heart’ 13 years prior. ‘The Lucky Country’ emphasised both the infectiousness and viciousness of Wildheart’s formula further and ‘The Rising Tide’ cemented the band’s requirement to be involved with the mini-fest with its heavy music exploration.
As Murphy’s law (in simplicity) states: “Whatever can happen, will happen” and every technical difficulty that could arise seemed to for Melbourne’s The Last Martyr. Not to be daunted by these troubles, the quartet blasted through a three-song set giving little time to breathe for both TLM and the onlookers themselves. ‘Sugar’ engaged the growing audience who were then thrilled by the cover of Bombfunk MCs ‘Freestlyer’ which Ms Strut rock rock rock rock rock(ed) the microphone with a cowboy hat and sunglasses. ‘Like A Ghost’ was to be the closer, not by choice, but the four-piece risked playing a shorter set instead of not at all and that was worth celebrating 90s nu-metal style with an infusion of pop-emo and trap.
Newcastle’s The Beautiful Monument made it clear from the get go that: “They were not here to fuck spiders” and with ‘Deceiver’ they had already spun, kicked, jumped and danced themselves and Adelaide into a frenzy. Their aggressive pop-rock concoction is one to marvel at, particularly the “Wo-oh” moments which would have Jared Leto envious – actually 30 Seconds To Mars have released new music and are probably due to return to Australia, perhaps they should take note as TBM would be a flawless (and possibly threatening) support act. ‘Burn’ was an extra bit of spark to the flames already present on-stage and then ‘Stay’ pushed this to a venue-wide wildfire. Although the entire outfit are magnetic, there is no denying bassist Amy McIntosh’s stage antics are electrifying – Pat Seals you have been warned.
Having only been in Adelaide three weeks earlier, Melbourne’s The Gloom In The Corner were back with their Aussie shenanigans to ravage a different venue. Vocalist Mikey Arthur was knockin’ sixes with his between-song banter – not often will a melodic metalcore outfit refer to themselves as “Fuckwits”, although this is assuredly their charisma. ‘From Heaven To Hell’ was an excellent expedition that continually built with haunting harmony like a ticking time bomb until the brutal breakdown at the midpoint. At this juncture, Hindley Street Music Hall was moving! ‘Villain’ was murderous and then enhanced by the progressive post-deathcore of ‘New Order’. ‘Behemoth’ was the stamp that ‘Gloom were the heaviest group on the mini-fest; they were undoubtedly mammoth and the stampede of this monstrous extinct elephant was driven by the pulverising percussion of drummer Nic Haberle.
The story of the “local heroes” is one many are astonished by and for Adelaide, this came in the form of the quintet alt. and their brand of divergent post-hardcore. The uplift of dance energy from the spectators and five-piece themselves during ’The Great Depression’ was tremendous in a ground trembling value and recalled the experience for this scribe of witnessing The Receiving End Of Sirens. ‘Nothingwithoutyou’ allowed vocalist Dan Richards‘ voice to soar in a bewitching ballad until ‘A.D.D.’ ignited the dynamite which exploded with the famed “wall of death” and single ‘Wraith’ enriched this vitality. ‘Chasing Safety’ bookmarked the Chiodos influence with some Anthony Green era Saosin easily justifying alt.’s recent selection supporting the progressive post-hardcore titans on their Australian tour. To close ‘APEP’ walloped the punters with waves of screams and modernised breakdowns who rapturously jumped with these immense musical tidal movements.
*Catch alt. in Episode 1 of Wall of Sound TV Season 2*
A change in pace came from Sydney’s Yours Truly who in turn entranced the audience with their punk-driven pop-rock and exceptional crowd engagement. ‘Careless Kind’ went above and beyond the loud/quiet/loud dynamic of alternative music and vocalist Mikaila Delgado certainly proved she is far more “caring kind” in expressing her compassionate nature for their fans (it was certainly RAdelaide at this phase of the evening). ’Siamese Souls’ is exactly what YT had achieved with Adelaide, a kinship and loving bond that many bands struggle to build this quickly; some grooving and bopping was thrown in for extra amplification of affection remarkably. The heavier ‘High Hopes’ showcased the outfit’s diversity superbly and to conclude ‘Walk Over My Grave’ instigated the “punch in the air” and “stomp the ground” anthem as an exclamation point. Is it true Paramore are back together? Guess who they should be keeping their eyes and ears on?
From Paramore to “Paranormal” – but not really. It was time to welcome the wonderfully weird and the amazingly absurd artists to do this oddity were the outlandish Ocean Grove – how quickly the music hall transformed. If a brit-pop version of Limp Bizkit was even plausible, these Victorians are the success story. ‘Guys From The Gord’ incorporated all of this and more inconceivably – moments of The Prodigy? OG are that ‘Firestarter’. A calling for Roni Size? The ‘Grove have those ‘Dirty Beats’. Imagine that tour alone? Wait, no need, this is what the Melburnians do. ‘Stratosphere Love’ was SO GOLD instead of “So Cold”, ‘CALI SUN’ was so much fun and would have impressed Damon Albarn. ‘Bored’ was the early summer anthem at the eve of winter thanks to the Ocean Rats (see film clip); also please note that OG can swap members in the frontman role at any time and dominMATE at doing so. Yet, this wasn’t the headliner?
Imagine the sequel to the Twilight film series done under the collaborative guide of Stephenie Meyer, Darren Aronofsky and Quentin Tarantino with all three writers and directors wondering who could do the soundtrack? Enter Melbourne’s Thornhill – parts romantic attraction, parts artistic roving and just a splash of carnage with flair thrown in; they are the answer. Incredibly ‘Hollywood’ blisteringly captured this in a theatrical sense and lyrical value – to be honest though, the band could literally appear in one of the films as cast members flawlessly. Thornies were here to suck the live music spirit from South Australia and give it eternal life with delightful destruction. ‘Lily & The Moon’ was a sombre serenade which impossibly escalated to a new stratosphere – this is where Muse were awaiting the ’Super Massive Blackhole’ titanic tribute that had all witnesses going wild. It had been a long day, yet the ‘Hill were an elevation with their progressive alternative metal and supplied The Dark Pool to dive into with bedazzlement.
It was time for the “nightcap” – the hot warming drink before calling it a night or alcoholic closing dessert of sorts to finish the evening. The AdeLadies in Teenage Joans were not subscribing to a cup of “sleepy time tea” (see: Scott Pilgrim) or Brandy for the boring. The duo were here to espresso martini the Friday fun and certainly know how to caffeinMATE that idea. ‘Ice Cream’ was a beautiful sweet and sour combination perfectly illustrating the post-grunge genre. New song ‘Superglue’ was impossible not to stick to – one can already hear Hollywood studios calling for it to be the new “Summer Film Hit Jam” (think the trailer for Clueless – that good!) and ‘Three Leaf Clover’ is that Laneway Festival hit, they just don’t know it yet. It is almost easy to forget that only two members make up Teenage Joans and they are: Tahlia Borg (drums) and vocalist/guitarist Cahli Blakers. Their combined sound is one for arenas, although this event wasn’t quite at that capacity, it seems like it is only a matter of time.
“If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.”
There was certainly “risk” and even some “unusual”; it would seem though that this re-imagination was along the lines of “extraordinary”.
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The Last Martyr
The Beautiful Monument
The Gloom In The Corner
UNIFY: Off The Record 2023
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