Sleeping With Sirens / Storm The Sky
UNSW Roundhouse, Sydney 20/09/2015
Review: Matt Doria | Photos: Billy Zammit
Sleeping With Sirens were last on our shores for Soundwave 2013, where they left us open-jawed and blown away in the hype for their then-impending third album, Feel. The Floridian pop-rockers have since released another album – Madness – and although that record has softened their musical stylings a fair bit, this writer is stoked to say that their live shows are as raging and chaotic as they’ve always been. But before we get into that…
It was around this time last year that Storm The Sky were playing to their biggest audiences in 200-capacity clubs. Almost a year on from their mainstream breakthrough, it’s still such a trip to see the Melbourne sextet dominate venues as substantial as the UNSW Roundhouse. The transition is well deserved, though. With a setlist built on highlights from their debut full-length, Permanence, and an absolute galaxy of talent between the six musicians, they were a perfect fit. Clean vocalist Will Jarratt took formative ground throughout the set, his luminescent waver an immaculate match for the band’s moody and progressive sound. His presence was simply enthralling, but when it came to building excitement, he was no match for the convulsive fervency of Daniel Breen, Scream Machine™. Injecting the set with a much-needed dose of ire on “Oh Sister”, he put the ‘Storm’ in Storm The Sky. Perfectly setting the mood for our headline act, their performance en masse was a post-hardcore fever dream that we’d be A-OK never waking up from.
Fronted by the explanatorily beautiful Kellin Quinn, Sleeping With Sirens have a fanbase comprised mostly of the Teenage Female™ variety, so as expected, their entrance was met with screams you’d otherwise associate with a gruesome crime scene. Smashing straight into play with Madness intro “Kick Me”, the first half of their set came and went like a skippable ad on YouTube, the six-piece taking full advantage of their young fans’ relentless vitality. Circle pits and pumping fists were in abundance as the band powered through some of their most inexhaustible anthems; classic banger “Do It Now, Remember It Later” and recent hit “Go Go Go” generated the fieriest recoils, and by the time they reached “Fly”, most of us were desperate for a chance to regenerate our energy. It’s fitting, then, that this is where the band decided to take things down a notch. Seamlessly switching to an acoustic set-up, “Gold” dimmed the discord and ushered in a buzzing calm for “The Strays” to float alone in.
The tranquility wrapped with a way-better-than-the-original cover of “Iris” by the Goo Goo Dolls, and after (reluctantly) chugging his whiskey coke at the demands of the crowd, Quinn and his colleagues bursted straight back to life with “Parasites”. The sudden drop back into calamity was jarring at first, but it only took a minute or two to have us all thrashing around like inflatable tube men again.
Looking at their set as a whole, it’s hard to find room for complaint… Well, other than that it was far too short, of course. Wrestling clamourous high notes with stadium-flooring screams as he hopped ecstatically around the stage, Quinn was a sonic anomaly and a visual phenomenon. Jack Fowler, Alex Howard and Nick Martin were implicitly astounding on guitars, the trio unshackling a frenzied trifle of electrifying riffs to accompany Justin Hills’ muggy basslines and Gabe Barham’s ruinous drumming. The band as a unit were composed to the point where their flow was almost synchronised, and to accompany them, a meticulously coordinated light show filled the room with bright oranges and greens. Pillars of smoke engulfed the band, spitting out a sight nobody would soon forget. Closing the night with an encore of “If I’m James Dean, You’re Audrey Hepburn” and fan-favourite “If You Can’t Hang”, the five-piece once again left us drenched in sweat and in sheer awe of what we’d seen.
Through and through, it goes without saying that tonight’s performance was well worth the wait of almost three years. With the ringing in our ears especially fierce, Sleeping With Sirens was an oddly accurate title by the end of the night.