While we were all locked down in isolation, baking banana bread and binge-watching Netflix, Alienist …
BRING ME THE HORIZON w/ You Me At Six, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes & Trophy Eyes
Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Brisbane
Wednesday 10th April , 2019
Hours before the doors were due to open at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre for tonight’s premier rock show line-up, there’s already a dedicated gathering of fans reclined on the concrete floor of the entry gates, clad in the ubiquitous uniform of the black tee, gazing transfixed and forlorn at their ever-present smartphones. We suspect that this is a true testament to the staying power of Bring Me The Horizon: when your merch advocates slogans like ‘Let’s Start A Cult,’ it’s hardly surprising that devoted initiates will suddenly materialise, presumably skipping school, work or other mid-week commitments, ready to consume their own blend of musical Kool-Aid.
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Inside the stadium, the melting-pot demographics of tonight’s line-up become visibly noticeable, like we’re on some kind of sociological expedition in to counter-cultures both old and young, dead and alive; the curious case of Schrodinger’s Scene Kid. We spy parental guardians with very stern expressions. One guy has a gigantic Slipknot logo tattooed on his bicep and a hastily cut sleeveless shirt for maximum exposure. A young girl with face tattoos also has the Southside Serpents emblem etched in her skin, evidently a Riverdale die-hard. One gentlemen stands proudly and—we assume—non-ironically clad in a faded Nickelback tee. Another girl wears what looks like a marionette’s dress, complete with purple trim and lace, juxtaposed against a Monster Energy Drink™ snapback angled across her forehead. Our female companion Svetlana notes obliquely that other women in attendance seem to have collectively rejected the use of bras altogether, while she also highlights the curious absence of Black Dahlia tanks … (more on that thread later.)
Waiting for Newcastle boys Trophy Eyes to stoke the warm-up flames of teenage rebellion this evening, we’re seated up in the stands to the left-hand side with a perfect view of side-of-stage production and the artist warm-up area. For some reason that we can’t quite parse, a ring of serious-looking security guards attempt to make everyone in the General Admission section sit down on the ground. This, as it turns out, is a horrendously futile endeavour. When the lights dim, everyone is immediately back on their tip toes, screaming and shouting as the Aussie quintet burst into a rapturous take on You Can Count On Me. While drummer Blake Caruso pounds away confidently, vocalist John Floreani is doing his admirable best to navigate a particularly bad vocal mix and a clumsy, double microphone set-up.
Swinging into Lavendar Bay, Floreani soon has the crowd swaying and waving their hands aloft. Meanwhile, we’re noticeably distracted by some kind of bulletproof vest/fashion bag attire strapped to Floreani’s chest with gold chains. (A cursory Google later on informs us that this is a ‘chest rig’ and we now officially feel 600 years old.) After thanking the early Brissy punters and blessing their return to our “beautiful city,” the band continue to unfurl more cuts from recent album The American Dream, including fan favourites More Like You and Something Bigger Than This. For the most part, tonight’s crowd are about as sleepy as an early morning school assembly; however, Floreani & Co. take this in their stride, powering through the chunky bass tones of Hurt and a throwback to Chemical Miracle single Chlorine. Floreani tells the crowd to “wake the fuck up” before dancing atop the runaway stage and singlehandedly energising their set with continual use of his ‘spinning-arms-as-propellers’ stage move. The group close out with the anthemic refrain of Friday Forever, and despite this being a Wednesday night, the message still hits home.
Having seen the potency of Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes first-hand on their previous two Australian tours, we feel a sense of satisfaction in already knowing what awaits the unsuspecting crowd below us. It’s hardly surprising then that mid-way through Why A Butterfly Can’t Love A Spider, a brand new song and the opening track from their upcoming third album End Of Suffering, vocalist Frank Carter walks out straight into the crowd and erupts like a volcano of straight-up fury. With security trying to bring him back in, Carter remains unperturbed and launches into Crowbar while he’s still in the thick of the passionate crowd. As frontman, there’s no denying that Carter oozes charisma and confidence, and when paired with the sleazy, bluesy vibe of his partners in crime, they make for a lethal combination.
With Carter back on stage, bassist Tom Barclay and drummer Gareth Grover hit their lock-step in the rhythm section for Lullaby and Anxiety, dropping groove after hypnotic groove. After Carter makes an impassioned call for the audience to embrace solidarity and understanding towards mental health, he cheekily declares that the next track is about “the really good times.” Guitarist Dean Richardson winds up catchy riffs during the bluesy stomp of Tyrant Lizard King, as Carter gyrates wildly on stage, happily wavering between lust and lunacy. Closing out their short set with two old numbers, their rendition of Devil Inside Me features Carter diving into the crowd once more because, as he says, “I wanna do a handstand.” Thankfully, the crowd cheerfully obliges in this respect. The closer comes in the form of fan favourite I Hate You, with Carter conducting the entire stadium in a rousing acapella performance of the chorus, to which he and Richardson as witnesses grin over at each other like naughty kids in rock’n’roll detention.
When English rock outfit You Me At Six stroll out on to the stage, they do so with the swagger and self-assurance of seasoned pros. The band are no strangers to Aussie shores, and they rip right into Fast Forward and 3AM, a few pop heavy cuts from last year’s VI album. There’s a dude down below us in a unicorn onesie losing his shit, another dressed like Crocodile Dundee, and the crowd in general seems to be soaking the whole thing up with a higher-than-normative level of casual indifference. Frontman Josh Franceschi strides around the runway stage, imploring the crowd to put on “their dancing shoes” and have a little fun. Follow-up track Straight To My Head seems to have that sentiment as its mission statement, with an infectious guitar-line, pulsing back beat from drummer Dan Flint and a soaring chorus refrain.
A wild Oli Sykes appears in the gruff version of Bite My Tongue, his growl contrasted against Franceschi’s smooth delivery in the sombre Give. Despite the band’s mostly lukewarm reception, You Me At Six are still here to entertain and prime the stadium for tonight’s headliners, a point Franceschi makes very clear: this crowd will warm themselves up because that’s what he demands of them. In suitable fashion, I O U sees the crowd with their hands outstretched toward the set’s end, waving along with Franceschi’s commands, singing back the chorus with every bit of lungpower they can muscle up.
As the venue fills up for the main event, we venture to the Wetlands Bar one final time and try to move briskly through the rigmarole of piss trough economics. Looking at the ragged assembly of punters in various states of drunkenness and excitement, Svetlana angrily remarks “Look, I know a shoeless person when I see one,” and admittedly, this takes us some time to process. Back in our section, there’s apparently a full rave playlist spinning, with the noticeable inclusion of The Prodigy’s Firestarter (RIP Keith Flint).
When the lights dim, the screams border on deafening. Even purely from a production aspect, the show on display is already impressive. Wards stand on stage corners, wearing black Hannibal Lecter masks, while the stage is split in to terraced levels with a visualiser projection of various cult symbols and propaganda slogans. Against this cult-like backdrop, Bring Me The Horizon take to the stage and bring MANTRA to life. The wards proceed to spray the crowd with smoke from what look like Ghostbuster backs, while confetti is blown from stage cannons and frontman Oli Sykes stands at the end of the stage head-banging like a man possessed. The retinue of tracks that follow are nothing but a cavalcade of metalcore-come-rock-come-pop synthesis. Avalanche is glorious and awash in waves of blue hues. Sykes demands multiple circle pits during heavy cuts like The House of Wolves and Happy Song. When these fail to appear to his satisfaction, he chides the crowd: “You say we’ve gone soft, but look at these fucking pits.” Ouch. During Mother Tongue, the BEC turns into a dome of flickering phone lights, and Wonderful Life finds the entire lighting rig dipping and turning above the stage like a giant protractor covered in Mitsubishi Lancer neons.
We arrive at the set’s interlude, which is a harrowing instrumental with folk vocals which the Internet informs us is a song called The Best Is Yet to Come by Irish performer Aoife Ní Fhearraigh. At this point, we also note the strange smell of burning hair lingering in the nostrils and put that down to the wafts of smoke from the cannons and backpacks on stage (fingers crossed). Setting the mood to blood red, the crowd erupt in rapture to the tune of Shadow Moses. With its chunky riffs and the infamous “sandpit turtle” misheard lyric, it’s easily a highlight moment of set. Follow You from 2015’s That’s The Spirit gets a look-in, and the stadium atmosphere lends itself well to such a huge, anthemic pop tune. Switching gears quite drastically, Nihilist Blues is intense and foreboding, a piercing wall of EDM soundscapes, back by a blue Matrix grid and vapour-wave aesthetic through the hypnotic visualiser. During Can You Feel My Heart, Sykes crawls across the stage on his hands and knees, emoting with every scream and croon, supported up by keyboardist Jordan Fish. Middle-finger anthem Antivist seems like the perfect time for Sykes to ask for a “Wall of Fun”: close to a traditional Wall of Death, just with more smiling or something apparently.
And finally, their mammoth set comes to a formal close with an acoustic version of smash hit Drown, with Sykes and lead guitarist Lee Malia illuminated by a single white light in a sea of dark. It’s amusing and mildly ironic to see Sykes climb the barrier and offer the mic out to the front row, karaoke style, only to laugh and remark when the fans can’t perform on the spot: “So out of time it’s not funny”; “Just awful.” However, no one is fooled with this ending though, and after an encore cry and ceaseless chanting, the English group re-emerge to blitz through three more cuts (Doomed, Medicine and Throne) for the hungry, hungry masses. As the lyrics to the closer declare: “You can throw me to the wolves/Tomorrow I will come back/Leader of the whole pack.” So, watch out mainstream tastemakers, because the alternative big dogs have finally arrived.
Photos by mattwalterphoto.com
Catch Bring Me The Horizon with You Me At Six, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes & Trophy Eyes at the remaining dates:
Friday 12th April // Qudos Bank Arena // Sydney
Saturday 13th April // Rod Laver Arena // Melbourne