We The Kings / Avastera
Metro Theatre, Sydney 26/02/2016
Review: Matt Doria | Photos: Pauly Vella
Okay, honesty time: when We The Kings announced their return to Australian shores last October, we had to take a step back and think, “Woah, We The Kings are still relevant enough to play the Metro!?” It’s been a while since the Floridian pop-punks did anything worth shaking the media up over, but alas, that didn’t stop them from luring an earnest thousand into their palm for a night of lively 2008 nostalgia (if you can call it that). The line outside alone stretched well through the alleyway into Pitt Street, and as such, BLUNT were shorted the opening set from local pop-rockers We Take The Night. If their studio material is anything to go by, though, that’s not all too much of a loss.
We did make it into the venue in time for Avastera, but that’s less a testament to our ability to sprint up stairs (lol) as it is to the quintet’s abilities to show up almost thirty minutes late. Nevertheless, they slayed. Tambourines, synth tracks, earthy bass licks and high pitched pop vocals meddled with crushing breakdowns – these motherfuckers had it all. Their sound is somewhere between Short Stack and The Amity Affliction, with the latter a clear influence – “Secrets” opens with a rhythm remarkably similar to that of Amity’s “Don’t Lean On Me”, and they even smash out a track titled “Oceans”; Birchy would be proud. Closing their set with an invigorated cover of The 1979’s “Robbers”, Avastera were no doubt a divisive bunch, but those they did manage to entrance were won over before the first song had even ended.
Lights. Camera. We The Kings. Piercing cheers ushered the quintet to their platform, and within seconds, the venue was a flurry of fist pumps and punk jumps. Somewhere Somehow opener “Queen Of Hearts” kicked the show off on a high note, but quickly fell off the rails with drummer Danny Duncan losing his pace amongst the mix. Of course, crowd favourites “Skyway Avenue” and “We’ll Be A Dream” effortlessly made up for the momentary scuffle, with Duncan tearing through rounds and guitarist Hunter Thomsen mercilessly slaughtering his fretboard. To that extent, Travis Clark was a frontman well deserving of the title, serenading the venue with his scorching hot falsetto and demanding we lose our shit synchronously.
A solid half of the band’s hour-and-twenty onstage was Clark riffing through banter that could easily lend the vocalist a career in stand up comedy – he introduced “Secret Valentine” with a five-minute (we counted) analogy about the first time he “played a game of backwards Jenga with a girl”, and joked about how he and keyboardist Coley O’Toole were going to force their kids to be in bands before leading in the acoustic “Sad Song”. But as hilarious as the messy haired mercenary was, it was hard not to gather the feeling that everything he said had been rehearsed countless times in front of a mirror. Remember the time when you were a kid, you saw that Play Doh was non-toxic, so you ate – and then instantly regretted eating – some? What you felt then is what we felt watching Clark teach us how to dance to “I Feel Alive”.
Lowkey awkwardness aside, there was little fault to find in We The Kings’ pop-punk grand slam. “The Story Of Tonight” saw the venue in up in arms for a music video shoot; “Say You Like Me” went down exactly as enormously as it would have in 2011; a cover of Jimmy Eat World’s “The Middle” was as industrious as it was cliché, and a drum solo that segued into a cover of Kanye West’s “Gold Digger” was totally unnecessary, but nothing short of perfect… As was Duncan’s cover of the Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air theme song. When the final chorus of “Sad Song” rolled around, the house lights were cut at Clark’s request, and replaced with a sea of fans’ flashing phones. Surprising literally no-one, “Check Yes Juliet” sent the night off with a bang, and reestablished our love for a band that we almost forgot about for a couple of years there.
For those that missed out on hate moshing to The Wiggles at their 18+ show (or, as was likely the case for most, were too young), We The Kings were a damn solid substitute.