The Amity Affliction / A Day To Remember / Motionless In White / Hands Like Houses
Qantas Credit Union Arena, Sydney 12/12/2015
Review: Matt Doria | Photos: Sandra Markovic
The Sydney stop of the Big Ass Tour reeled a solid 13,000 tie-dye-clad devotees into the Qantas Credit Union Arena for the co-headlined voyage between homeland heavyweights The Amity Affliction and US swashbucklers A Day To Remember (and with Motionless In White and Hands Like Houses on deck for support, no less). It was poised to be a night of circle pits and Super Drys unlike any other – and of course, we were there to bob along with the rest of the fish fry.
This is supposed to be the part where we gush with praise about how The Ghost Inside left us gasping for air after their metalcore onslaught. But the California shred unit were recently victims of a horrific road accident, which alongside the deaths of their tour bus driver and the driver of a truck they collided with, has seen them wind up with some pretty gnarly injuries. So while we’re all upset we couldn’t get our windmill on to “Dear Youth”, we at BLUNT would like to extend our best wishes to the band, and hope to see them back in action soon.
So with that being said, first up to the plate were Canberra alt-rockers Hands Like Houses. Despite their last-minute billing and lack of mass-scale touring experience, the quintet triumphed with downright stunning exuberance. Trenton Woodley was notably petrified by the enormous crowd standing ahead of him, but the frontman’s ability to captivate them was astounding nonetheless; glistening harmonies billowed out of the speakers as guitarists Matt Cooper and Alex Pearson took full advantage of their surging adrenaline. Peaking with last year’s sleeper hit “Introduced Species”, Hands Like Houses well and truly established themselves as future rulers of the arena circuit, their buoyant brand of pop-infused hardcore an inescapable hit, even if it didn’t pack the same violent punch that The Ghost Inside might’ve.
Unfortunately, the same could not be said for Pennsylvania goth-rockers Motionless In White. The band’s sound was often an indefensible mess, a slipshod smattering of generic two-step breakdowns and twinkle-synths that, even as a lover of all things electronic and heavy, this scribe just couldn’t get into. “You guys are just standing there like, ‘What the fuck is going on!?’” Chris Cerulli noted at one point, the frontman seemingly intent on digging his own grave as deep as possible. At one point they launched into the call-and-response anthem “A.M.E.R.I.C.A” full of hope, only to be met with dead silence from the crowd.
From the moment the lights dimmed and their introductory fanfare came booming out from all angles, A Day To Remember made it clear that this wasn’t going to be your average ‘hour o’ mosh with a squeeze of banter on the side’. This was the Big Ass Tour after all, and oh, how they put on one Big Ass Show. Bursting onstage to a shower of rainbow confetti, the Floridian pop-moshers kicked things off right with “The Downfall Of Us All”, vocalist Jeremy McKinnon leaping around the stage as he beat the shit out of his mic. Slowing down was not an option from here, with the band’s output amping up with every passing minute of their hour-long set. They hurled toilet paper into the crowd for “All Signs Point To Lauderdale”. They had crowdsurfers literally surfing on top of each other for “Better Off This Way”. Everything they could do to make themselves stand out, ADTR did, and did well.
Props must be given to the stage crew who worked their arses off to bring this set to life, because from the jaw-dropping light show to the pitch perfect mixing, everything about it was simply amazing. The intensity of it all reflected suitably in the crowd, which was divided into two equally-eruptive throngs of energy. When the band tapped into their pop-punk side, fists were raised high and heads nodded blissfully. When the breakdowns came out, however, it was sheer chaos – circle pits, walls of death… It was all there, and in abundance. Bleeding in with a sectional cover of Oasis’ “Champagne Supernova”, the acoustic “If It Means A Lot To You” drizzled the otherwise-frenzied set with a much adored hint of sweetness, before “All I Want” and “The Plot To Bomb The Panhandle” sent ADTR off on a high note, and left us with one final act to close out the night.
Disappointing as it may be, while The Amity Affliction’s studio material is as potent as it’s ever been, tonight’s performance proved that their live show is in need of a spa day. On bass, Ahren Stringer was next to flawless, every pounding note rippling through the venue like snakes in a field. It was a different story when it came to his clean vocals, though, with his voice on struggle street for the majority of the set. Joel Birch wasn’t much better on unclean duties either, his gutturals muffled and muddy.
Still, there was a lot to be salvaged from The Amity Affliction’s set. For starters, Ryan Burt is a goddamn machine behind his kit, every kick and every snare shuttered out with the kind of precision that scientists dedicate their lives to studying. The band’s setlist was immaculate, an amicable focus set on Youngbloods and Let The Ocean Take Me, with Severed Ties snubbed entirely in favour of their later works’ stronger cuts. Before kicking into “The Weigh Down”, the quintet incited a sea of flashing phones, the upper half of the arena looking like a star-studded night sky. Recent single “Shine On” ended the set and almost invalidated previous criticisms – the mosh pit to end all mosh pits broke out as a net of balloons dropped from the ceiling and the stage became awash with fire, smoke, lights and confetti.
And thus, the Big Ass Tour had come to a bittersweet end. We slithered through the masses, bought a tie-dye and a skate deck, then hobbled off to Central. If you were one of the naysayers that swore metalcore would never take off on our shores, now would be a great time to start marinating your words.