Apollo On Fire are up first before everyone has even made it into the venue. Frontman Mitch is confident, and his high vocal range mixes well with the band’s rock sound. As the band rip through their quick set, they entice a growing crowd while others nod from the bar. They close with Bulletproof Youth, a track from their last band, which gets fans singing along.
A bigger crowd has drawn in for post-hardcore act, Danger! Earthquake! “I don’t want to see a single fucking person standing still!” yells vocalist Steve Cangila as the band launch into Darkened Sky, a song with all instruments thrashing into a breakdown. This is vocalist Ryan Matheson’s first show since replacing Vonnie, but his vocals are clear and powerful and they mix seamlessly with Steve’s effortless growls and screams. The band sneak in a cover and the crowd catches on pretty quickly. It’s a screamo rendition of NSYNC’s Bye Bye Bye.
Everyone immediately warms to Dream On Dreamer and the first pit of the night breaks out. The band are full of energy with vocalist Marcel Gadacz getting right up in people’s faces while they scream along. Hands are in the air; the crowd is jumping and so is the band — and this is just the first song. There’s no barrier to the stage which means it’s free range for the brave while security enters side stage. It’s hard to tell if Dream On Dreamer has warmed the crowd or stolen the night from the headliners.
When the lights black out, the intro of Just A Memory fills the venue and Escape The Fate take the stage. The crowd scream for Craig Mabbitt; TJ Bell makes an image of himself early on by licking the neck of his bass, and lead guitarist Thrasher stands tall on a platform to play his best parts. Drummer Robert Ortiz dons his trademark Slash-look with his hair down and reflective sunnies.
Craig’s high screams waver between sounding almost identical to the records, and at times a little too distorted. His low growls are strong, but they’re often left for TJ to handle. The band play through Remember Every Scar, Issues, Gorgeous Nightmare, and the quick banger 10 Miles Wide. Its live sound is pumping but Josh Todd‘s parts are hard to replicate.
There’s a fun vibe to the night; the band make jokes throughout their set, a lucky few nab selfies with Craig and Thrasher on stage, and one fan even scores Craig’s beer. The opening guitar riffs to Live For Today gets the whole band jumping in formation to the upbeat intro. Craig’s at the edge of the stage during The Flood, and arms reach out to him like the undead. He chooses one and pulls him up onto the stage. Robert’s sunnies are off and he’s so into the music it’s a pity he isn’t any closer to front of stage.
There’s a quick lull between songs and the crowd take the opportunity to scream out requests. TJ offers to “play that stupid fucking song you want” if someone brings them more beer. The band plays their two most romantic songs of the night, Ashley and Something, and everyone loves them for it. These are Craig’s best vocals of the night, but the crowd’s singing almost drowns him out and leaves him with a smile plastered on his face.
Things pick up again with heavier tracks Fire It Up and This War Is Ours. Craig calls for the crowd to play their “spirit fingers” for the fast intro. He signals for a circle pit and attempts to orchestrate even a small wall of death, but for Escape The Fate, it’s just not gonna happen; everyone is busy enough jumping to the breakdown.
After a quick cover of My Chemical Romance’s Dead! was met with mixed reception, the stage goes dark and the venue falls silent. Thrasher takes his stand under golden lights to showcase his guitar solo. The band begins to play Guns N’ Roses‘ Paradise City but the song trails off and first encore One For The Money slides in. Its translation to live performance is probably the best of the night.
There’s an attempt to replicate Slipknot’s iconic Spit It Out moment. The band crouch and the front of the crowd oblige while those on the outskirts remain standing. The execution is lost with Situations. The song just doesn’t have enough bite and hey, it’s not Corey Taylor yelling at you to “jump the fuck up”! It leaves me anticipating Slipknot’s upcoming Aussie gig rather than enjoying the ‘classic’ ETF song.
The show is over just as quickly as it began. No thank yous; no bows. Robert teases the crowd with the direction he’ll throw his sticks, and you’ll be kicking yourself if you didn’t stick around much longer after that. Robert hangs around to take photos with fans, while others make their way to the dingy Cherry Bar where the Las Vegas rockers are celebrating their last night in Melbourne.
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