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The Amity Affliction w/ Trophy Eyes, Driven Fear + Sensaii – 19 August, 2016 – The Tivoli, Brisbane
It’s Friday night! And we are indeed feeling alright, as we make our way through the Valley for tonight’s sold out The Amity Affliction show at The Tivoli.
As we partake in a chicken parmy big enough to have its own satellite, there’s a slow trickle of revellers clad in black t-shirts eagerly making the pilgrimage down the road. We finish stuffing our faces, neck our pint and venture out into the night to join the crush.
We make it inside the Tivoli to find openers Sensaii mid-set. Off the back of their recently released debut album Renegades, the Brisbane group deliver an enthusiastic set of melodic metalcore meets post-hardcore in the vein of It Prevails and We Are The Ocean, with new tracks like Egress and single Break Out bolstered by a three-pronged vocal attack. Sonically, the group loves a good chorus melody but relies too heavily on middle-of-the-road breakdown patterns that in 2016, fall flatter than their freshly printed tour laminates. Guitarists Shaun Switzer and Chris ‘Hey guys, I used to be in Amity’ Burt give great performances but are unfortunately drowned out in the mix, while Burt takes full advantage of the stage to prove that he’s still an undeniable riff-fountain and pinch harmonic aficionado. Vocalist Rowan Herbert prowls around doing his best to look both menacing and mesmerised, but his repeated back of the head grabs become borderline comedic towards the end. As they wrap up their set, drummer Paul Perry is apparently confident enough to go for a stick throw into the crowd, only to have them fall unceremoniously to the floor. Ouch.
Next up are hardcore act Driven Fear, in their 12th year as an old staple of the Brisbane scene and a slightly odd fit for tonight’s bill. Their blistering melodic punk hardcore jams, which echo giants like Rise Against, Comeback Kid and Raised Fist, are incredibly solid, which then makes it all the more disappointing when righteous cuts from 2011’s Contender album and this year’s fantastic Freethinker appear to shoot directly over the heads of the crowd. It might be the fast tempos or the absence of pit calls tailor made for screen-printed t-shirts, but seeing people play Pokemon Go or talk to their Mum in the crowd, rather than getting pitted is a god-damn crying shame. Between shrieks, their vocalist informs the crowd that they’re here tonight to get them amped up, so they best get moving, and his pleading is not entirely in vein as a decent circle pit breaks out on the floor and puts security on watch. The Brissy boys give it their all and rip through numbers like the mosh-friendly Fireball (Mr Sinister) and the catchy rhythms of A Bright Flash, before thanking the ‘beautiful people’ in the crowd and closing out their set.
When main support act Trophy Eyes take to the stage, it’s with some big grins and casual waves to the crowd. These Newcastle gents have generated a considerable amount of hype over the last few years, and have been turning heads with coveted appearances on the Warped Tour and impassioned live shows. Launching straight in to a powerhouse performance of In Return, arguably the best track of their debut album Mend, Move On, one thing is clear: Trophy Eyes aren’t here to fuck spiders. This is punk rock done right, as guitarists Andrew Hallett and Kevin Cross manage to blend melody with razor-sharp rhythms, crafting a sound that could slot right in to the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 soundtrack. Definitely a good thing.
Vocalist John Floreani works the crowd like a seasoned pro, bobbing up and down with his Krusty The Clown hairdo refusing to stay in place, while drummer Callum Cramp defies his namesake and pushes on with enviable precision and inhuman stamina. New song Chlorine hints at the quintet moving towards a more Floral Green-era Title Fight sound on their upcoming new album Chemical Miracle, along with cheekily pinching some of Nirvana’s Nevermind aesthetic. The band keep the energy up right until the finisher Penfold State Forest ring outs, leaving fans both old and new sweaty and satisfied.
As the lights dim and a heart rib-cage banner unfurls, we think about the influence headliners The Amity Affliction have on tonight’s crowd versus the critical reception of their newest record, This Could Be Heartbreak. Depending on which side of the metalcore fence you sit on, it’s either another landmark achievement for the group or a tired and worn-out retread of the Amity sound. But ultimately, looking around tonight and seeing a diverse crowd of ages and demographics, it’s safe to say that Amity fans ultimately do not give two shits about critics’ opinions. They want big hooks, they want breakdowns, they want those ocean references, and Amity are more than willing to oblige as the opening salvo of I Bring The Weather With Me and Open Letter makes plainly evident. Reaching back seven years in to their discography, Amity play from a sure-fire list of bangers ranging from Youngbloods through to their latest full-length effort. On huge sing-along tracks like Never Alone and Chasing Ghosts, Ahren Stringer hits most of his high notes in the cleans, despite his notoriously flailing bass and punk-jumps. Heavier cuts like The Weigh Down, Fight My Regret, Some Friends and Death’s Hand (replete with its obligatory ‘get fucked’ chant) show drummer Ryan Burt to be more machine than man, as his syncopated attack on the kit is nothing short of exhausting to watch.
Fun fact though: the last time we saw The Amity Affliction play a full set, was their Youngbloods album tour in 2010 with Misery Signals and Confession, and what a difference time (and success makes). There’s no denying the tight unit Amity have become with their huge festival slots and ceaseless international touring. Yet for those attentive enough, there are moments tonight where their performance becomes slightly more pantomime than passionate. Playing ostensibly as a four piece, means that tracks like acoustic ballad All Fucked Up highlight moments where the lack of visual guitar playing strikes a discord against the sonic experience, and makes other brief flashes of invisible synths and lead riffs more noticeable. It’s certainly a polished routine, but not an entirely perfect one. When Stringer sings the chorus of Youngbloods directly after the bridge in I Hate Hartley—intentionally or otherwise—no one in the crowd, or the rest of the band, really seems to mind.
Guitarist Dan Brown rotates around the stage, giving his power-stance a solid work out, while Stringer twirls with glee and occasionally drops a growl or yelp in amongst vocalist Joel Birch’s tortured screams. In a stirring show of solidarity with their brothers in arms, Amity also drop into an unexpected yet fast-paced rendition of The Ghost Inside’s Engine 45, which activates the pit once again. Closing out with the pop-tastic This Could Be Heartbreak alongside fan favourites Pittsburgh and Don’t Lean On Me, Amity’s love for a hometown show is written across their faces as the crowd’s energy reaches a fever pitch. We even witness a fervent patron climb over the railing, only to jump from the mezzanine level straight down into the pit. Now that’s dedication right there. Shine on mate.