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Gig Review: Loudfest 2015

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Hellions + Stories + Endless Heights + Void of Vision + Bare Bones + Harbours
The Lair @ Metro Theatre, Sydney
22 November 2015
Review by Peyton Bernhardt

When the venue is over 50% full at a free show with a bunch of local bands occupying the bill before the first act even packs up, it’s pretty clear the scene is doing alright for itself. Loudfest was one such gig, uniting hardcore fans from across the land in Sydney’s tiny Lair.

Harbours launched the mini-fest, a Melbourne outfit that describe themselves as ‘alternative rock’; mostly because nothing else fits. Suffice to say, the audience was relatively confused as the guys transitioned through post-hardcore, pop punk and straightforward rock every three-to-four minute block. Despite that, they pioneered an enjoyable, emotive sound even if no one knew where exactly they were going with it. There were still mic-grabs from the audience, and Take Me Under featured a literal fist-to-face approach to headbanging from frontman Tory Robertson.

Bare Bones followed on, bringing their impressive rock ‘n’ roll oriented hardcore to the party. They got straight down to it, barely saying a word until three songs in. Unfortunately, guitar notes blurred together in the struggle that is venue speakers, but the crowd and band didn’t care, obeying commands to ‘bounce’ their ‘fuckin’ heads’ solemnly through tracks like Hell Painted Gold. Initially, it appeared that more people cared about what the speaker was pumping between sets than the actual bands, but the amount of kids screaming into mics at Loudfest overall proves that interest in local acts doesn’t just rise and fall with the set times of the headliner.

Speaking of mic grabs, Void of Vision taking the stage definitely garnered sizeable crowd participation. Their slightly-gimmicky-but-mostly-endearing uniform (baseball shirts that say ‘VOID’) was one thing, but their synchronised guitar spin-arounds were a whole new ball game. It should have been lame, but it displayed effort on their part to make the set seem polished, something not quite necessary when you consider how on form they were with the performance of highlights like Dissipate.

Endless Heights changed the atmosphere of the quaint Lair space a little bit with their expressive outpouring to fans that they ‘didn’t need to be shy’ and that they could ‘do whatever [they] want’. Their set would have pleased the guy in The Story So Far shirt. It was tight but expected; consistent, but not innovative.

Stories set was the opposite. They kicked off with an instrumental lead-in; boldly implying that they were there for the music and nothing else. The guitars were so heavy you could feel them drop, and the show was straightforward, with tracks nudging it along into a more melodic, experimental brand of hardcore that didn’t come across as belonging in the inauthentic world of metalcore. The drums were pleasingly distinguishable, the vocals the best part of the set and the breakdowns accommodating a convenient level of moshing. All the way up to Under Haze, the band managed to reconcile their atmospheric/ambient undertones with the requirements of a hardcore performance.

Hellions were the main event so to speak, and didn’t disappoint. Their party intro sample (which Shazam told me was ‘Legends’ by Yellow Claw and Cesqeaux, yet to be confirmed) was probably the only time you’d see that level of groove dancing amongst an audience prepared for stomps and crowd kills. You could tell from the way that front man Dre Faivre hopped into the audience every now and then that Hellions were playing for the kids who had not only heard their music, but could sing it back to them.

There was one point where Hellions prompted the crowd to bark, however, maybe taking advantage of their dedication a tad. Despite that, Faivre told the crowd to do what they liked: ‘this is your town, this is your city’. The highlights of the set were easily 22 and The Great Fabricator. Those were trumped, however, by the great stage invasion of Loudfest 2015, taking place during the performance of synonymous ‘Hellions’, so intense that I’m pretty sure the electricity got turned off. If that’s not following the band’s earlier instructions to ‘just lose yourself’, then I don’t know what would make Eminem or Hellions more proud.

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