In Trenches were first up tonight, and they didn’t fuck about, launching into a gloomy and ruthless set that sounded like A Secret Death meets Trap Them. I like both of those bands, so between their passionate live show and fantastic songs, they can be confident they made at least one new fan last night. I expect my Fan Club pin to be mailed pronto.
Counterparts were up next, and left me much colder. They had a fantastic mix and played really well, but it’s what they played that got stuck in my craw. It sounded like I was back in a Byron Bay PCYC in 2006, and I just couldn’t connect to music that I had definitely heard a million times over. Two-step, breakdown, big chorus, wash, rinse repeat (always repeat). They were so good at this very particular brand of metalcore that I couldn’t even tell if they’re young bucks hoping to put a new spin on the genre that just won’t die, or if they’re a legacy band from way back who just never got the break they should have when metalcore was in its prime. Either way, it wasn’t for me, but for those who it was for, it was spectacular. Considering they were second up, they got a huge response from some dedicated fans who I wouldn’t be surprised to learn were there mainly to see them. I honestly can’t recall the last time I saw a band this far down the bill be able to give the mic away for choruses. It was real cool to watch.
This is at least Let Live’s second time down under with Every Time I Die, but I resent them so much for it it feels like maybe the 17th time I’ve had to endure them for the sake of seeing ETID. Much like Counterparts, I just don’t connect with what Let Live are doing, but unlike their touring buddies, at least I can fathom how people into a certain genre can enjoy Counterparts. Let Live sound like the muppets from Seasame Street want to start a hardcore band but they’ve only ever listened to Blink 182 and Coldplay. Screeching over minor chords doesn’t make you emotional, and saying you’ll knock out guys who abuse women make you a pandering showboater at best. They couldn’t even stick the landing with their logo, why is it a capital I and then an L what is happening? Who is Let Live for?
Apparently, nearly everyone. I was being hyperbolic just before; these guys are really, very good at what they do, I just can’t fathom what it is that they do, in a way I’m sure older dudes didn’t get why I loved Slipknot when they first came out. Let Live aren’t for me, and that’s fine. Trap and country and Andrew Bolt aren’t for me either, but I wouldn’t say all three of those should be abolished and shot into the sun. I just get angry when I don’t get something.
What was really beautiful about Let Live’s intensely physical set was witnessing something unfathomable. I saw people crying, and had no inclination as to why. I get it when my mum cries at the majesty of Celine Dion even, but I simply can’t get my head around Let Live. But you know what? I am super happy they exist; despite not getting a message of female empowerment across properly, despite making music I personally think is liquid refuse, despite their logo irrationally annoying me, it is an indisputably wonderful thing that so many people can have such a powerfully positive response to their music. That’s all this genre is about. No one forces me to listen to these guys, and if they’re not hurting anyone I have no problem with them. But in fact, they genuinely seem to be helping people, and I only want to encourage that. You do you, Let Live. I’ll do me. Away from you.
Every Time I Die, on the other hand, are almost literally rock gods and I will not be dissuaded by any argument to the contrary. The feedback loop of their shows is tangible; from the moment they gallop onto the stage the crowd electrifies, and they most definitely feed off of the crowd. Regardless of how tight they played or how good they sounded, Every Time I Die performed with that undefinable quality that meant they had “control” of the crowd. I don’t know how else to put it. We were all wrapped around their little fingers from the moment they started.
They burned through a number of singalong hits early on, with We’rewolf setting an early party tone, but for my money ETID’s strength is in their ruthlessly heavy tracks from across their entire career. Songs like Floater, Petal, Underwater Bimbos From Outerspace and Bored Stiff made the pit a certifiable and joyous hazard; never have I seen so many sweater smiles and slippery, bare man nipples. It was beautiful.
Every Time I Die are where they are, international headliners, because quite simply they are really quite good. Undeniably good. Quantifiably good. Empirically good. I’ve run out of adjectives. Every single aspect of their live show has been honed and refined and polished to a point where they are almost the textbook definition of Good Rock Band. While their sound, their energy, their crowd interactions, their mullets and all the rest might contribute, ETID as an entity are so much more than the sum of their parts. They were made for the stage.
If you want to show your friends why you see live music, drag them to an ETID show. There’s a vibe, a background thrum of good times and happiness along with the aggression and noise, that I think would convince even the most ardent Celine Dion fan that heavy music is a lovely little thing. Above all the things that ETID do for and to me, the thing they do best is re-affirm, time and time again, why I love metal, and why I love metal shows.
Headliner: Every Time I Die
Supports: Let Live, Counterparts, In Trenches
Venue: 170 Russell
Words by Mitch Alexander
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