Gig Review: Being As An Ocean + Supports, Melbourne, 2 June 2016

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Being As An Ocean + Saviour + Void Of Vision + Spectral Fires
Max Watts, Melbourne
2 June 2016
Review by Alex Sievers
Photos by Bethany Mafrici

The local openers, melodic hardcore boys Spectral Fires, put on a decent set, despite the room being only a third full. That didn’t dampen their spirits however and they put a lot of guts and charm into their 20-minute set. I really enjoy seeing local openers enjoying themselves on stage and not just taking the opening slot for granted, and these guys seemed to be really enjoying their set, especially their vocalist, who was nothing but smiles.

Of course, the influence Being As An Ocean has on them was clear as day. Mixing clean and heavy guitar tones, emotional lyrics, punchy drumming, and throaty screams made me immediately think of the night’s headliners. While I think Spectral Fires do need more polish to their sound, the foundation for something special is definitely there.

According to Void Of Vision vocalist Jack Bergin, Void of Vision may have indeed been the “Ugly duckling of the tour.” But that didn’t stop them from showing everyone else up. They really were the band of the night for me, and while their set was only 30 minutes long, I was left wanting so much more. From Life//Blood, their latest single Sun//Rise, to a very intense, unreleased track (coming off their long-awaited debut album that’ll be released …eventually)

Not only are they tight musically, but their on-stage actions were just so in-sync with each other. Bergin remained out the front of the stage spitting lyrics with vehement aggression, letting the music take hold of him. While the band’s guitarists and bassist jumped, stomped and moved as one, as their drummer kept the songs locked down right to the beat. It may sound silly to some, like watching a rehearsed play or a choreographed pop act, but it looked so damn good in the moment and it makes them really stand out. That’s just one of the many reasons Void Of Vision aren’t just another local band.

While I’m a big fan of Saviour, their set left me cold, sadly. Having seen the Perth melodic hardcore outfit before, I was very excited to finally see them perform with co-vocalist, Shontay Snow. Snow’s been writing and recording with them for years now, but has rarely performed with them (in the past, a backing track of her vocals would be used) so I was very keen for their set.

But once they finished up, I was rather disappointed. Their set list wasn’t the problem, though, as they mixed up some deep Once We Were Lions tracks (Evelette and Homecoming – holy shit!) with more recent cuts. No, it was their body language that rubbed me the wrong way and at times, it all felt rather awkward.

It seemed to me that this tour is being used as the litmus test to see if the band can work as a six-piece with Snow. I’m really glad she’s a full-fledged member now, but her parts felt lacking in confidence and energy at times, and I doubt that was the venue’s mixer, either. Also, the rest of the band seemed to be keeping a close eye on her, making sure that she didn’t miss any parts and to pick up any slack. Despite being so punchy and musically tight live, the chemistry between some members seemed skewed and it let the whole set down.

I’m sure after another tour or two, the on-stage chemistry will be fully worked out and Saviour will be right back on their game. But as I said before, that set just left me cold.

Within seconds of Being As An Ocean (BAAO) taking the stage, I realised that pretty much everyone was here to see them solely. They received easily the best crowd reactions of the night, from mass sing-alongs to pit warriors completely clearing the floor.

From set opener, Little Richie, frontman Joel Quartuccio was running through the crowd with reckless abandon. Nearly every song, the bearded vocalist would leave the height of the stage to get up close and personal with those at the barrier, right back to those at the mixing desk, always with a procession of die-hard fans following close behind him. This is the kind of interaction you miss out on at most other shows, and it’s why I fell in love with hardcore music and this scene to begin with.

The other four members sounded great and played their respective parts near-perfectly. While I found that they didn’t quite have the presence that Void Of Vision had, I can forgive the lack of movement for just how good they sounded. Now, I hear a lot of criticisms towards their drummer, Jesse Shelley, for his “over-playing” live, but I think it really adds to the songs, rather than detracting from them. A great example of this was all of the added fills he played on the beautiful, The Poets Cry For More.

After inciting a mass group hug between friends and strangers alike, and after giving a very touching speech about companionship and family, the band fittingly played This Loneliness Won’t Be The Death Of Me, and departed the stage. Of course, as any good band knows, you save one of your best for last. In this case their encore featured one of the band’s better tracks, Nothing, Save The Power They’re Given, to close out the night.

Having never seen BAAO headline before, I was really impressed and it was a great set all up. BAAO create a great atmosphere live by performing brief instrumental sections that lead into each track, but I felt that some of that time could have been used to squeeze a couple more songs into the set-list. Alas, beggars can’t be choosers, and I was just glad to watch this band do what they do best; putting on a good f*cking show.

 

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