Dear Chester, I only realised a few days ago that it’s nearly been a year …
Hawthorne Heights with River Oaks, Sienna Skies & Spitalfield
Corner Hotel, Melbourne
31 August, 2017
Nostalgia is currently hitting its peak. Hawthorne Heights, bless them, are near the peak of high-school reminiscing. So much so they’ve even got a shirt at the merch stand: “I used to listen to Hawthorne Heights in High School”. Not to ruin the vibe of the evening, but let’s get emo!
Mark Rose, A.K.A singer of Hawthorne Heights’ former labelmates Spitalfield, lets us know the first ever song he learnt on guitar is Metallica’s Enter Sandman. We’re treated to a run through which is a smart way to kick off the evening: have the crowd sing along so they’re already in a good mood. There aren’t many who’ve turned up early but they at least seem to be enjoying a nice acoustic soundtrack to their eager beer sculling. A cover of The 1975’s Somebody Else also goes down a treat.
Sienna Skies are the only Australian contingent on the bill but they’re putting on a show that sounds like they’ve travelled a thousand miles to be here. Compared to Rose, there’s a lot more energy filling the room as more and more people arrive. A few timing mistakes here and there don’t hamper the set as their breakdowns thunder through the floorboards. Thomas Pirozzi is fluid in his changes between clean and harsh vocals, and drummer Damon Brohier is the unsung (pun not intended) hero as he puts his pipes to the test as well.
With little fanfare, the curtain raises and Hawthorne Heights take to the stage to perform the first of two records in their entirety. Out of the pair this evening, The Silence in Black and White is arguably the one with the most ‘bangers’ compared to its sister record. Singer JT Woodruff is struggling due to sickness but the more forceful points of tracks like Niki FM are dealt with better than the quieter moments. The youthful restraint of the record is thankfully avoided here and Hawthorne Heights push their songs to a point that skips over the cringeworthy lyrics. But that’s what the fans are here for right? Silver Bullet ends with a crowd singalong to prove that point. Although it’s a bit too early for the alcohol to have fully kicked in, people are still grabbing their mates and singing favourite lyrics into closed eyes and grinning faces. One couple are booted from the pit before Screenwriting An Apology for being entirely too drunk, not surprising since they’ve been ricocheting around on top of each other the past 20 minutes. Luckily enough the band skip on over to Wake Up Call (that song is left for a little later in the evening) and they head out for a rest.
Silverstein’s Shane Told is here in his side-project form, River Oaks. Opening with a cover of Sugar Ray’s Every Morning (he’s taken cues from Rose on crowd pleasers), there’s a mass singalong. Yep, the Draught pots have finally kicked in. Though, it almost feels like Told is a dual headliner for tonight. His Silverstein material, like Call It Karma and rare cut California are lapped up. Told’s vocals match well with an acoustic set and his charisma during the show pushes past the ‘man and his guitar’ fatigue. My Heroine receives the loudest singalong and the singer gains a lot of respect for taking a request for Giving Up. There’s even a call and response for the chorus which as an adorable touch. He finishes off with solo material Let You Down which doesn’t gel quite as well, but he still nails the emotional peaks the crowd are here for tonight.
Returning to the stage, Woodruff regales us with a tale of receiving a visit from a home doctor to ensure they could play this very show. He’s shocked that the medicine didn’t cost him a cent (“In the US a house visit would cost $25,000 without insurance), and thanks our country for literally assisting him in playing tonight. Launching into If Only You Were Lonely, it has the tracks that almost everyone will have heard at one point or another. Even if they don’t remember the lyrics, the intros to This Is Who We Are and Pens and Needles are enough to register an “ohhhhh” of recognition. Dead In The Water is bass heavy and Breathing Sequence has a nice harmony between all three vocalists. Saying Sorry goes over well, but there are a few filler tracks that wash over the crowd. As we near the end of the record, it’s pretty clear that we’re in need of the final crescendo to send us off. The opening strains of Ohio Is For Lovers ring out and it’s like a shotgun blast. Sienna Skies members leap on stage for guest vocals and into the crowd to make the most of the evening. The band seem genuinely thankful that people the world over still care about a record made by a few kids from Ohio; more legacy sets to round off this period of high school angst please.
Catch Hawthorne Heights with River Oaks & Sienna Skies at the remaining dates
Tickets available here.
Sat September 2, Bald Faced Stag, Sydney NSW (18+)
Sun September 3, The Zoo, Brisbane QLD (18+)
Mon September 4, Miami Tavern, Gold Coast QLD (18+)