Dear Chester, I only realised a few days ago that it’s nearly been a year …
POLARIS with The Plot In You (USA), Ambleside & Tapestry
Friday 13th April, 2018
The Triffid, Brisbane
It’s the spookiest day of the year, and we’re hot-footing it straight from our slave-wage grind to The Triffid before doors open for some pre-show press shenanigans. As the supports roll through their soundcheck, we run through a quick-fire interview with the ever-affable Polaris boys, who are very eager to give Brisbane a taste of their metalcore mortality this evening. We sneak some fresh fruit from their rider (Fact: you know you’ve made it as a muso, when you get fruit in your rider.), and then bail outside to the beer garden to wet whistles. The doors finally open and the snapback daytrader hardcore fans rush up to the barrier and jostle for prime placement, festooned with many a Parkway and Amity tee (and curiously, one dude in a Bloke’s Advice shirt).
After meeting up with our mate Geoff and performing a quick switcheroo of car keys and bag drops, we get back inside the venue to find openers Tapestry in full swing. Tonight’s line-up suffered a bit of an obligatory shuffle, with controversial Melbourne act Alpha Wolf getting the boot (for obvious reasons which don’t need repeating here) and Adelaide crew Ambleside staying on to keep the faith. Fortunately for Tapestry, this shuffle gave them the chance to jump on the tour, and everyone here tonight is all the better for it because this N.T. quintet might just be Darwin’s best kept secret. If you like your melodic hardcore sad and brooding, with just a sprinkle of pretty guitar licks as adornment, then this group should be right up your alley.
With the lightning rig painting them in hues of red and blue, the band run through a short set featuring some older tracks and new bangers from their recently released Ghost of Me EP. Vocalist Tom Devine-Harrison is a legit double threat, adding layers of emotional dynamics to the band’s soaring sonic palette with strained yells and delicate cleans. The fantastic, double-kick heavy Ghost punches the crowd right in the solar plexus (colloquially known as the ‘feels’) and the Emarosa-esque slow burn Dark Shade is a definite highlight, with one of the best choruses we’ve heard this year. For most of the set, we’re standing next to Polaris frontman Jamie Hails as he cheers The Top End boys on, with woops and footy calls between songs, smiling gleefully and heap-bobbing the entire time. As the band wraps up, Hails leans over and tells us how stoked he is to have Tapestry on the tour, declaring emphatically: “Man, these guys are ones to watch. They’re going to be huge.” We’re not ones to throw down predictions willy-nilly but look: he’s not wrong.
Having missed out on the first tour stop in Perth the night before, next up comes Rad-elaide outfit Ambleside, who bring some alt-rock meets hardcore punk vibes to tonight’s proceedings. The crowd has noticeably thickened and as we watch the five-piece run through a polished set, it’s clear that there’s more than a few dedicated fans in the crowd. The band roll through numbers like the emotive Wash Away and new single Blur, showcasing their potent mix of driving chords, tight propulsive drumming and vocalist Daniel Stevens’ mid-range yell. With a haze of yellow lights, the group simmer through some slower, sombre material off last year’s Shape Me EP, and we’re slightly transfixed by guitarist Dean Lawrence’s flowing hair, which is flicking around on stage like a Fabio commercial, with ample fan assistance. With local contemporaries like Trophy Eyes and Endless Heights going from strength to strength, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Ambleside follow a similar trajectory in the not too distant future, based on tonight’s solid performance.
During the changeover, Geoff and I zip out to the beer garden once more for another frosty beverage, running into the Deadlights boys and launching straight into a discussion on the pros/cons of a vegetarian diet, which somehow dovetails into everyone swapping tips and tricks for making good roasts… Being an adult is weird sometimes. Looping back in to the band room, the lights dim to near-black as Ohio natives The Plot In You make their entrance. Vocalist Landon Tewers is wearing glasses inside like an alt Ray Charles, with the type of confident self-awareness that dissolves any hint of faux-pas, as he delivers the opening lines of Rigged with a hefty dose of theatrics. As the first track off new album Dispose, it’s a good introduction to Plot’s eclectic take on post-hardcore, with truckloads of ambiance, f-bombs and ‘wait, hold up…’ turns of phrase like: “I’ve gotten way too fucking carried away/And damn it’s a shame these fuckers had the best and they blew it/I’m running circles around the pussies they made.”
Picking up the pace, the quartet move swiftly through new track Not Just Breathing and Take Me Away from 2015’s Happiness in Self Destruction, as their live sound bounces around from moody atmospheric post-hardcore to heavy, crushing metalcore. Bassist Ethan Yoder and guitarist Josh Childress spin round energetically, while Tewers tries his best to engage with the crowd, telling everyone to wake up because he feels like he’s “at a god-damn funeral,” before dedicating a song to some poor girl up the front who “looks like she’s having the worst night of her life.” We’re a bit bummed that The One You Loved isn’t on the setlist this evening, made even more pronounced by the inclusion of older (read: dated) material like Fiction Religion. It’s clear to us that Plot have moved past their cookie-cutter metalcore phase a few albums ago (and you can also read this quite plainly on their faces), but they dust the track off for fans nonetheless. Closing with Happy and the somewhat title track Disposable Fix, Plot make sure that the crowd are suitably revved up for the main event.
If there was ever an example of what hard-work and dedication to your craft will get you in the music business, it’s tonight’s headliners Polaris. In five short years, the young Sydney quintet have risen to the apex of Aussie heavy music, managing to sell out not just tonight’s Triffid show, but the other six shows on their national headline tour—a huge feat for any band, let alone one still cutting their teeth. Yet as soon as they take to the stage and rip into album opener and lead single Lucid, it’s immediately clear where this success stems from: they’re just good songwriters, and even better performers. Like, really fucking good. Lucid is hands down one of the best metalcore tracks we’ve heard in years, and during the entire track length, all five members have shit-eating grins on their faces as the Triffid crowd goes apeshit.
As Hails tells the crowd, tonight’s set is a celebration of everything the band has achieved in their short tenure and a celebration of their debut album, The Mortal Coil. Pretty much the entire record is featured this evening (with the noticeable exception of our personal favourite Crooked Path, which we had briefly lamented to the band earlier on), and their blistering performance has almost too many highlights to recall: the upbeat lead-in bounce of Relapse; The Slow Decay’s swelling chorus, perfectly executed with vocal trade-offs from Hails and bassist/vocalist Jake Steinhauser; bludgeoning uppercut chugs from guitarists Rick Schneider and Ryan Siew on Dusk to Day; and drummer Daniel Furnari’s ballistic assault during the mid-section in Consume. Towards that track’s end, Hails demands a wall of death from the sea of willing participants and Furnari decides to punctuate the clash of bodies with furious double kick blasts. In Somnus Veritas sounds even more expansive live than it already does on record, with the band channelling some latter-day Underoath vibes, which we can definitely get right behind. Closing the formal end of their set with The Remedy and its weaponised rock riffs, the crowd goes all-in for one last mosh with a dead-set banger.
It’s here that we need to mention how dumb, pointless and predictable ‘the encore’ has become as a music tradition: we get it; it’s the ‘end’ of the show—but look, you’re not fooling anyone; just play the hits god dammit. When the band returns (surprise!), they thank the crowd profusely for all their support, and then jump straight in to Sonder, before closing (for real this time) with crowd favourite Regress from their stellar The Guilt & The Grief EP. If there was ever any doubt surrounding the success and rapid-rise of Polaris, tonight’s steamroller set definitely squashed those notions. The South Sydney boys rightfully deserve every accolade that gets thrown their way, and they’re on track to become Australia’s next break-out heavy talent. Couldn’t happen to a bunch of nicer blokes either.
The Mortal Coil Australian Tour is SOLD OUT.