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ASKING ALEXANDRIA, WAGE WAR, The Gloom In The Corner: Max Watts, Melbourne 20/03/24

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Pix by Paul Miles

Thanks to What’s My Scene for the photos.

We get into Melbourne at around 4:30pm on Wednesday in readiness for Knotfest Melbourne 2024, and after a single family of 10 or so unloaded 20-plus bags out of the overhead lockers, we manage to get out of the airport around half an hour later and (conveniently) make our way through Essendon to our Air BnB over in Mooney Ponds. Those who know will know the significance of that, as did our 15-language-speaking Uber driver, who was a Collingwood supporter. That’s a story for another day, though.

When we arrive at our swanky digs we are greeted by our hosts who seem more than a little shocked at the 3 bogans who are about to take over their place for the weekend. They ask us if we are here for the Grand Prix, and we lighten their concern by telling them, “No, we are here for a metal festival”. After a ten-minute description of how to get to Flemington and the train station connecting us to it – which we can see from the balcony – we decide to get our shit together and head into the city to catch Asking Alexandria and Wage War‘s dual headline KnotFest sideshow at Max Watts.

We stop for a succulent Chinese meal and some self-poured Hennessy with Chris (Maric Media) and Tim (XMusic & Better Noise Music) before we make our way into Max Watts to catch Wage War a couple of songs into their set in front of a ridiculously packed crowd considering both bands would be performing at Knotfest the following day. Unfortunately, this means we’ve missed openers The Gloom in The Corner, but I’m sure I’ll catch them again some other time.

I find a position on the upper mezzanine and perch myself for a while to take in the set. Wage War is putting on a super tight show and the crowd are bouncing and banging their heads forcing the pit to very quickly open up for a wall of death while a few shadow boxers kick the shit out of the air.

The riffs are heavy and the screams are ferocious. It’s a younger crowd than I’m used to, but that makes sense for any kind of core band. I think these guys slot in as metalcore but maybe have some tinges of deathcore and the odd touch of melodic metalcore as well as some moments of electronics pushing through from backing tracks.

The PA levels seem like they could do with a bit of a boost for these upper levels, so I quickly head downstairs to see if the mix is stronger at pit level. It is a lot stronger down on the floor and as I get there the band’s pop sensibility starts pushing through with some melodic vocals from the stage right guitarist hovering over the heavy pounding grooves.

It’s hard to see anything down here due to the packed crowd, even though there’s a tiered floor setup to provide stage visibility. It’s a very cool venue setup actually, and I attempt to do a quick live video and reel, but my phone decides it’s gonna switch itself off and turn back on with 10% power. It’s actually done this a few times today, which doesn’t leave me with much hope for tomorrow at KnotFest with 7 interviews and a full event review to get through.

Anyway, we’ll see how that pans out, but for now I’ll plug into my brand-new charging block and try to get this review done. But not before Wage War end their set to a massive roar from the crowd.

It was a killer heavy set, and I’ll definitely be checking out more of these guys tomorrow and on Sunday up in Brisbane. You should do the same but if you missed them at either or both there is always the Brisbane sideshow on Tuesday.

I’ve got to mention quickly here that the line to the bar is awesome cause none of these core kids drink. So, off in that direction I go while the changeover is taking place. And luckily, after a very extended changeover the house lights darken and Asking Alexandria take the stage with a full-bodied assault of breakdown chugs followed by some rocking big riffs and the seated crowd upstairs instantly rise to their feet as the pit downstairs opens up into a chaotic mosh. The band then settles down for a moment while some electro samples take over and the crowd join along for a clap before the song opens up again and frontman Danny Worsnop displays some impressive clean vocals.

Their second song opens with a massive crowd singalong which really shows off the band’s pop sensibilities. They blend a few different genre flavours seamlessly, but let’s not make this any more confusing than it needs to be. It’s post hardcore at its “core” with some electronic overtones, heavy riffs and anthemic clean choruses. Danny then stops to make a comment that his jacket was a bad idea, and the crowd responds with a “take it off” chant.

Squirty then quickly pops back upstairs after getting his early shots done and lets us know that the sub drops down the front are absolutely earth-shattering. I may need to venture down that way to feel that shit rattle my body, but who am I kidding though, I don’t do mosh pits. Especially this one, which is a little crazy at the moment with youthful sober energy.

A break after the following song gives the crowd another chance for a “take it off” chant, but the jacket stays on. The band delivers heavy riff after heavy riff and anthemic chorus after anthemic chorus, with every song drawing a massive response from the crowd.

An electronic intro rings out and phones are lifted in anticipation for something. Maybe it’s the intro riff or maybe it’s just the song. I’m guessing this is possibly one of their singles, as it’s got a bit more of a “radio” vibe to it than the other tracks so far.

I’ve got the set list, but that doesn’t mean much now because I’ve lost count of which song we are up to. It’s maybe something about One More Chance, or maybe something about a Dark Void as per the final words of the song.

A “shoey” chant rings out from the crowd for one reason or another, but none of us can actually figure out why. Next minute an acoustic guitar appears onstage in the frontman’s arms, which scares me a little. I thought this was a metal show and not an Ed Sheeran show, but he starts singing, and it seems the crowd all know the words and start to sing along just like it is a song from all of our favourites ranga.

That was a nice little side story, but eventually the band decides to come back onstage, and things get a “little” heavier which just seems to be the next step in this long-winded ballad. The crowd love it though, as they continue to sing along at the top of their lungs.

Someone must have just remembered to turn the subs up as they are now rattling the mezzanine. Craig Mabbit from Escape the Fate jumps onstage to join in for the final chorus, and the crowd again erupts. Another electronica intro powers on, and the crowd gets told to jump. Then the song suddenly takes a twist and becomes some kind of Panic at the Disco tribute. And I’m only saying that because I’m failing to compare it to anything else. Some funky bass lines bounce around and every now and again the guitars and drums join in for some heavy breakdown grooves.

After that effort frontman Danny hocks a mad golly onstage and follows up by saying “sometimes you’ve gotta spit on things to make ‘em work better” … that’s what he said – no seriously – that’s what he said. He then announces that the whole band is gonna do a shot, but not before the whole shoey thing comes up again and their guitarist Cameron Liddell is forced to do a shoey out of a boot lobbed up from the crowd.

Then they play an old song, or at least that’s what they tell us. I wouldn’t know to be honest, but it is a bit heavier than the previous one. Maybe I like their old stuff better than their new stuff. The guttural screams in this one are massive.

And on that note, with only a song or two left we bail out, cause it’s now way passed our bedtime and we have a really early day ahead of us tomorrow for KnotFest. And also, because we are alot older than the average punter at this show.

Killer taste tester for what’s to come at Knotfest! This tour is bound to be an absolute cracker!

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