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THORNHILL, Bloom, Anticline
Stay Gold, Melbourne
Sunday 9th May, 2021
Back to Stay Gold for the first time since we came for a COVID safe, sit down, all you can drink extravaganza. Yes, everyone’s mentioned how crazy it is to be back at a local gig but this is OUR return so we’re taking the opportunity to mention how brilliant it feels to be around familiar sights. The tartan pants, the coloured hair, god even the badly written ‘Cash Only’ sign next to empty Pabst Blue Ribbon cans is a pleasing sight.
First up, Anticline’s set is entirely brimming with energy. Their guitarist is pulling punk jumps that are nearly kicking their bespectacled lead singer in the face, all the while their drummer is cracking the cymbals at a rapid pace reserved for a prog band breakdown. Plus if I’m not mistaken, they’ve got a bassist who’s foregone the pick entirely and is running those lines down at a breakneck pace. We’re genuinely enamoured by the sheer life bursting from the stage and the few mosh warriors that are game fire the energy right back. Correct us if we’re wrong, but the entire set doesn’t have a single pause in between tracks. Get in, shock them and get out. They don’t have the absolute sledgehammer approach that contemporaries like Justice for the Damned sometimes rely on which gives the audience a chance to breathe. Again, how their drummer is managing to swap seamlessly between alternating cymbal crashes into blast beats and beatdown grooves is a feat that needs to be highlighted. They’re pretty stoked with the turn out too which is always nice to hear. You can tell a lot by how seriously an opener takes the brunt of the first set and Anticline perform like they’re everyone’s main attraction.
Although they’re an entirely different band, Bloom have a similar propensity for showmanship. This is apparently their first ever tour which, given the impacts of COVID, is criminally unfair. Their EP In Passing is a truly affecting record that rightfully got them signed to Greyscale Records before its release. We absolutely adore The Service and the crowd favourite moment “You left a mark on me/I had never expected” gives us REAL Stepson (of Brisvegas fame) vibes with the amount of people who try to swamp the microphone. For a guy that claims he has food poisoning, Bloom vocalist Jono Hawkey really makes a hell of an effort. The kids seem genuinely appreciative too, thanking everyone individually who’ve helped them out on the tour so far during an interlude. Real softies for a band that shows appreciation, we are. Finishing with Cold, although we’re not as familiar with the older track, it’s clear this is where the majority of fans came on board. They’ve clearly shown they can write lyrics that cut to the emotional core, and Bloom have backed it up with a genuinely engaging live performance. Fans of Touché Amoré (the similarities between their crushing record Stage Four and In Passing’s musings on death are written on Bloom’s sleeve) or the recently defunct Casey would be fools to miss out on the band’s next shows.
Capping off the final night on a 19 day tour, Thornhill’s true strength lies in their vocalist Jacob Charlton. Yes, everything else in their Karnivool-like playbook justifies their headlining position but Charlton’s ability to rocket up and down the vocal register is a sight to behold. At certain points his reliance on falsetto wavers and can tire, but when used to its full effect in opener Nurture, his voice pierces straight through the bass’ meaty bottom end. Following up with Lavender it’s an opportunity for the screams to come out, again with Charlton to take the band’s vocal duties on his shoulders. He replicates this metaphorical feat by literally taking Bloom vocalist Hawkey for a shoulder ride replete with dual screams.
Thornhill aren’t just made for the ethereal highs of tracks like Lily & the Moon, tracks like Coven truly shine outside of their recorded counterparts. On record they can sometimes feel too overwhelming with the airy production value, but when it’s unleashed live there’s a true gut punch that kicks hard when the pre-chorus riff enters. Closing with Where We Go When We Die, the room really explodes. It’s one of their better tracks so that should come as no surprise as the whirring lead guitar melody halfway through sounds like a warning guitar to get the hell out of dodge. It feels like Thornhill are destined to follow Northlane into the limelight with the similar djent(ish) riffs and soaring vocals propelling them into people’s Spotify playlists.
It truly is comforting going to a local gig again, especially in a smaller venue like Stay Gold that feels as homely as an alt venue can. This time last year we would’ve absolutely killed to be in a mosh pit and (despite the best efforts of some) now we can with almost zero concern. The music industry is healing and it’s up to these bands to keep the spirit alive. If it’s this lineup in the future, we’re in good hands.