Live: Shorefest 2014
Here at BLUNT we’re all about supporting the scene and championing our youth, so we sent budding journo Lachlan Young and on-the-rise photographer Billy Zammit along to Shorefest 2014 in Sydney to capture the likes of Dream On Dreamer, Hand Of Mercy, Stories, Sienna Skies and more while representing Team BLUNT.
North Sydney’s Shorefest 2014 consisted of a solid line-up of Sydney metal and hardcore bands, with Melburnian headliners Dream On Dreamer closing out the day. A sausage sizzle, a chill out area, and great local music? Sounds like the makings of a sweet afternoon.
One of two band competition winners, Dear Seattle, opened the day by making the most of the opportunity to play in front of the biggest crowd they’d ever faced, and an impressive set followed. Tight musicianship and energetic vocals made their impassioned style of post-hardcore – in the vein of Pianos Become The Teeth – transfer well to the live setting, though they’d be better suited to a smaller more intimate venue.
Next up was the other winner of the band competition, The World In Cinematic, who unleashed a technical guitar onslaught on the swelling crowd. Despite being talented musicians, their songs could stand to be more distinguished from one another. It was a spirited performance from screamer Max Langbein, though Michael McKenzie’s cleans were a little unrefined. The band was having fun in front of a big crowd though, especially when Langbein resorted to saying “fiddlesticks” due to the organisers’ rules on swearing.
Young post-hardcore outfit The Sweet Apes soon followed, fronted by the talented and purple-haired Ray Vavasis. Her vocal range was impressive, and she managed to bound around the stage whilst belting out the high notes. Aside from her performance, the music was largely uninspired, though on new single “Flight” more melodic guitars made for an ambient atmosphere which really let the vocals shine. Each of the band members were clearly relishing the chance to be on stage, though things felt a bit stilted when breakdowns were thrown into the mix. Overall, their use of melody managed to set their tight set apart from the rest of the bands.
When Novocastrian favourites Trophy Eyes hit the stage, the crowd came alive and the pit really got moving for the first time on the day. Frontman John Floreani had an easy job when he jumped down to the barrier, as the crowd were more than happy to scream the lyrics back into the mic for him. Their performance was polished and Floreani kept the energy flowing with his aggressive hardcore/punk style. Despite a pause for a medical situation in the crowd, the band flew through a very well received set which warmed the crowd up for the day’s headliners.
Sydney mainstays Sienna Skies’ breakdown-heavy style of hardcore was well executed and instigated plenty of wild moshers in the pit. Vocalist Steve Faull was having plenty of fun saying, “You guys moshing in the pit, I need heaps of that; you guys eating a sausage sandwich, I need heaps of that.” “Directions” was a crowd favourite, though the onslaught of reasonably uncreative breakdowns weighed the set down until the fast-paced “Heartquake” brought about some crowd sing-alongs. Faull’s short oration repping local unsigned bands showed the undiluted passion for music which has made Sydney’s (and Australia’s) heavy scene one of the most vibrant in the world. One fan couldn’t hide his disappointment though, when his request that they play their famed cover of Owl City’s “Fireflies” was met with an outright “No”. Denied.
Newcomers to the highly famed UNFD label, Stories brought their stompingly brutal brand of progressive metalcore to the stage with honed live skills and excellent songwriting. Vocalist Morgan Dodson’s small frame belted out incredibly powerful growls layered over intricately conceived melodic riffs and devastating breakdowns. Theirs was perhaps the most technically impressive performance of the day, all the more because the ambient aspects of their music were flawlessly presented. New single “Dreamwork” was well received, and the band could confidently stomp their way off stage satisfied that they’d put in an extremely impressive performance and showing why they’ve been signed to one of Australia’s most popular heavy labels.
Next was the moment most of the crowd had been waiting for: Scott Bird’s last show with Hand Of Mercy. After a quick rise to popularity in the last few years, it was a sad day to see such a passionate frontman finish his career with the band. But from the moment he stepped on stage, he was on fire, with more energy and passion than anyone else had shown so far. Hand Of Mercy’s music might not be the most original in the world, but its fast, breakdown-heavy style had the crowd forming a circle pit in moments, and more moshers than any other band had received. The “No Crowd Surfing” signs were well and truly ignored as fans sailed over the barrier and into the arms of security. Scotty put in a great performance, and it was heart-warming to hear him thank his band members for all their years together. After the epic closer “Rumble In The Grundle”, he was pressured into what seemed like a legitimately unplanned encore by the unrelenting crowd, and he ended his career in the most fitting way: with an enormous, gratuitous breakdown.
Despite the encroaching cold, the crowd was still hyped from Hand Of Mercy when headliners Dream On Dreamer hit the stage. The crowd became more vocal than they’d been all day, and it was clear that all the band members – especially drummer Aaron Fiocca – were having immense amounts of fun. The five-piece cranked out their tunes with precision and the anthemic “Neverlove” warmed the crowd’s vocal chords for “Hear Me Out”, during which clean singer Zachary Britt barely even needed to sing because the teenage girls in the front row had it covered. Screamer Marcel Gadacz was in fine form, and “The World In Front of Me” had the whole crowd bouncing eagerly as the band shredded through it. The well-loved “Ambitions” slotted in as the encore and rounded out an incredibly impressive performance, especially as the band’s famous “champion theme” was sung almost entirely by the exhilarated crowd.
Considering it was a free show, enough words of praise cannot be said for the organisers who put together a fantastic bill and created a relaxed atmosphere around the park in between sets. And I’m sure it couldn’t have happened without all of the volunteers who got everything ready for the fans to enjoy. It’s days like this that show why Australia’s hardcore scene is so special. There is an inherent passion in everyone who has found a home in the scene, and to have them all gather at a local show was a welcome celebration of it. Kudos to Mosman Council and to BLUNT for putting together a fantastic day for all.