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Gig Review: Emarosa + supports, Sydney

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Emarosa + Awaken I Am + Chasing Light + Dear Seattle
Newtown Social Club
12 June 2015
Review by Salla Harjula
Photo by Joel Anderson

American post-hardcore outfit Emarosa rocked the Sydney Newtown Social Club midway through their Australian tour. Heavy magazine checked it out and had a ball.

When local supports Dear Seattle start, the venue is loosely scattered with people who obediently move to the front when asked. This alternative group is clearly young and the boys are kind of adorable in a grungy hipster way with their way oversized t-shirts.

Their standout thing is using two singers: a heavier, angrier first vocalist with cleaner, indier stuff from the second guitarist. In a way that’s cool, and especially the harmonies work nicely. But the guys still need experience as performers. The music is a combination of atmospheric post-rock and grungy aggression that may develop into something interesting a bit further down the road.

Then Chasing Light blasts off with infectious verve. Another local support, but this one definitely has the whole cheerful rock’n’roll vigour locked down. The music is energetic alt rock with a bit of screamo thrown in and comes off quite well.

But by far the most memorable thing about this set is the performance. I’m not even sure if the show is entertaining in a fun way or bordering on unintentionally hilarious. But you are absolutely entertained. Extra props to the first guitarist who is quite undeterred by the still loosely filled venue and bandies about with gusto and acrobatic jumps, clearly having super fun all throughout.

Brisbane outfit Awaken I Am has followed Emarosa all around the Australian tour. As they open with ‘Exposure’ from their latest album, it’s clear one of the two main acts has hit the stage. The band room is finally full and the crowd is into it from the start, surprisingly so even.

Or not that surprisingly – the band has that touch of experienced and skilled showmanship that has been missing this evening so far. Their musical style is very American influenced metalcore with mostly clean vocals and catchy choruses a la Parkway Drive and friends. Full disclosure – not a genre I personally dabble in much as a rule.

But hey, when you do your thing well, what’s genre got to do with it? And Awaken I Am does kill it.

A definite highlight is ‘Vices’, kicking off with a killer riff and continues with really just terrific guitar work all throughout. The singer Adam Douglas has got charisma and skills and showcases them here with consistent flair.

The gig ends on a sweet note as on the last song the band lets a local fan on as guest vocalist. He actually doesn’t do badly at all. A definitely ace gig, all in all.

The evening has grown steadily better and continues on the same trajectory with the main act. Emarosa fires off with ‘People Like Me, We Just Don’t Play’ and takes their audience immediately. The singer Bradley Scott Walden, new to the Australian audience, climbs straight on top of a towering monitor to show off his rock stars chops.

And Walden is the undeniable star of the evening every bit of the way. Apparently there are people hiding under rocks who can’t accept a change of singers, but based on tonight, if some fans actually have abandoned the band because of this… Their loss.

Not to sell the rest of the band short either, they all play so on point it’s a delight to hear and watch. ‘Say Hello to the Bad Guy’ is a perfect moment of pure catchy rock awesomeness. I’m reminded just what a pleasure it is to enjoy unabashed pop hooks performed by a tight rock ensemble.

Walden endearingly croons part of ‘A Toast to the Future Kids!’ sitting on the side of the stage. The mood is killed a little though, by the audience all whipping out their phones and even posing next to the singer while he does his lovely thing. Or maybe I’m just old and crotchety and don’t understand this thing with snapping photos for Instagram instead of just enjoying a top-notch gig straight up. Who knows?

Towards the end of the gig it turns out Walden is quite the mountaineer. During ‘American Deja Vu’, he scrambles up the side of the stage onto the ceiling somehow, flips himself over, holds on to the rafters by his feet, all the while singing like it’s no thing. And totally kills the chorus from up there, too. Moshing upside down.

Yeah. The crowd loves it.

As do I.

Nice one.

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