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Live Review + Gallery – Hellions, Sydney 2016

Hellions / Endless Heights / Vices / Bare Bones
The Bald Faced Stag Hotel, Sydney 12/08/2016
Review: Matt Doria | Gallery: Robert Birchall

Hellions and the Stag go together like pizza and my mouth: they’re a match made in doughy (moshy), cheesy (riff-y) heaven.

Whether opening for scene legends like Stray From The Path or commanding their own legions of two-step devotees, the punks have brought the little Leichhardt stage to life time and time again with an acidic vigour entirely unique to themselves. And thus, it’s with both a heavy heart and hyped-up smile that tonight marks (probably) the last time they’d ever lay waste to the iconic hall. The local crew have earned unanimous acclaim and a Top 5 ARIA debut at the hand of their third LP, Opera Oblivia, so we expect the next tour to go down somewhere they can fit the fuckoff massive pyro cannons their theatre-punk opulence screams for. Before then, of course, the Quality Of Life Tour paved way for one last frenzied au revoir to Hellions’ ‘local band’ brevity.

Hell hath no fury like Bare Bones‘ tooth-chipping brand of punk ‘n’ roll pungency. The quintet sauntered out to one of the denser first-band crowds we’ve seen, and from the moment Tom Kennedy roared the night’s first “Yeeeeeeah!”, it was crystal clear to us exactly why. A short four years has sprouted the frontman a genuine rockstar confidence, his glass-shard screamed verses searing into galloping ’70s hair metal choruses, while axe-slingers James Dean and Chris Breedon shredded with merciless passion. The setlist was a simple one, plucking choice cuts from the band’s two EPs – those from Cut Throat Living especially ravenous – and ending on the first ever Bones jam, “The New Breed”: a roaring old school banger channeling Metallica as hard as it does Every Time I Die. Bare Bones are set to drop their debut album in 2017 – it’s going to change the game forever.

Vices were a touch off their mark tonight, which isn’t much of a complaint when you consider that Vices at 75 percent are still more recklessly loveable than most other bands at 101. Frontman (slash human incarnation of caffeine) John McAleer has an unrivalled stage presence, riffing both on powerful speeches and pointless banter, dedicating songs to his soft-touch blankets and, after chucking a lil’ boogie to his own jam, backflipping into the fucking audience. Cuts are short, fast, fierce and full of life: a stacked set of sub-two minute scorchers fizzes by in fifteen minutes, “Slavery” (sans intro) an easy standout pounding through the venue like a theme song for tinnitus.

Sidenote: if synchronised punk jumping was an Olympic sport, Vices would take home the gold fucking medal.

Rounding out the opening bill with Endless Heights was an interesting choice, given the outfit’s slower, moodier showcase of shoegaze-infused hardcore. They proved themselves an effortless fit, though, with grime-drenched emo frothers trickling out of the speakers with sinister bite – pits were few and far between, but when a track garnered one, it did so with neck-snapping spirit. While the biggest moments of the set still came at the hand of last year’s Teach You How To Leave EP, a taste of the quintet’s forthcoming second album – the riff-heavy and numbingly catchy “Your Shadow” – brought the audience to a polarised standstill.

No matter how flawless tonight’s trio of openers were, there was but one reason we’d gathered before a sweat-laminated stage, and though we sat moshed-out, complaining of our tiredness in the interim, its moment of passage came as one not dampened even slightly by lethargy. Ladies, gentlemen, and everyone in-between… Welcome to the Opera.

Void of intro, Hellions sprinted to their positions and smashed straight into it, an arena-worthy light show firing rainbow bullets from an infinite magazine as circle pits surged and two-steppers thrashed. Not a minute passed before Dre Faivre wound up pressed against the barrier, mic grabs an essential point of initiation before the first screams of “Sydneeeeey!” bellowed through the hall. The frontman soaked up every drop of adoration from the sold out hometown horde, an ardent smile plastered on his face even during cuts more fitting of rage. Live vocals have never been his strongest suit, but tonight, they’re as crisp and coarse as they are on CD – only when Northlane poster boy Marcus Bridge pops in (yes, for “Nightliner Rhapsody”) is he shown up.

The rest of the band were impossible to fault, too. Faster tracks shined with Anthony Caruso losing his shit behind the drums, he and Chris Moretti on bass teaming up to ensure the floors rumbled as relentlessly as possible. Matthew Gravolin was an absolute icon with axe in hand, tearing through bangers old and new alike with blazing riffs and crumbly shreds, his sandpaper gutturals chopping up the sombre paths that Faivre laid down in-between. The two bounced back and forth on “Nottingham” and came head to head on “He Without Sin” – a dim throw into an elsewhere bright fold, but a setlist highlight nonetheless. In just over an hour, the foursome notched every inch of their vast musicality: the sour sting of “Creasy” was mellowed out with the homely bends of “Thresher”, which, alongside lead single “Quality Of Life” proved Opera Oblivia as Hellions’ juiciest slab of pit-spurring psalms thus far.

If the average Hellions show is a single M&M, tonight was the entire fucking chocolate factory with Charlie getting frothy in the pit.

Northlane / Hellions / Polaris
Tour Dates

Thursday November 17th – Corner Hotel, Melbourne (18+)
Tix: northlaneband.com

Friday November 18th – Triffid, Brisbane (18+)
Tix: northlaneband.com

Saturday November 19th – Metro Theatre, Sydney (AA)
Tix: northlaneband.com

The Amity Affliction / Hellions / Ocean Grove
Tour Dates

Monday January 2nd – HQ, Adelaide (18+)
Tix: theamityaffliction.net

Wednesday January 18th – The Jack, Cairns (18+)
Tix: theamityaffliction.net

Thursday January 19th – Dalrymple Hotel, Townsville (18+)
Tix: theamityaffliction.net

Friday January 20th – Civic Centre, Gympie (AA)
Tix: theamityaffliction.net

Saturday January 21st – Lake Kawana, Sunshine Coast (AA)
Tix: theamityaffliction.net

Sunday January 22nd – Convention Centre, Gold Coast (AA)
Tix: theamityaffliction.net

Wednesday January 25th – C. Ex Coffs, Coffs Harbour (18+)
Tix: theamityaffliction.net

Thursday January 26th – Bar On The Hill, Newcastle (18+)
Tix: theamityaffliction.net

Friday January 27th – Waves, Wollongong (18+)
Tix: theamityaffliction.net

Saturday January 28th – ANU Bar, Canberra (18+)
Tix: theamityaffliction.net

Thursday February 2nd – Chelsea Heights Hotel, Frankston (18+)
Tix: theamityaffliction.net

Friday February 3rd – The Arena, Geelong (AA)
Tix: theamityaffliction.net

Saturday February 4th – Hobart Uni, Hobart (18+)
Tix: theamityaffliction.net

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