You have to give it to the pulling power of In Hearts Wake that their supporting line up resembled an eclectic mix of bands from all around the globe.
Starting with Sydney boys Polaris, England’s While She Sleeps and Japan’s Crossfaith rounded out the show headlined by the Byron Bay boys in an ambitious attempt to polarise global metal.
I arrived just in time to hear the last song from Polaris and was immediately left ruing my decision to try and hold off on leaving home because of the rain because these guys sounded awesome from the short listen I had.
Returning for their second support tour of Australia this year after earlier being here with Bring Me the Horizon, While She Sleeps are starting to build an affinity with local audiences. Wasting little time and launching headlong into the title track from the latest album You Are We, the lads from Sheffield delivered a tight and energetic set that left only the question of when they will be rightfully performing their own headline tour?
Vocalist Lawrence Taylor had a larger than life stage presence, banging knuckles with the front row and owning his time in the spotlight like a seasoned professional. By the second song ‘Seven Hills’ Taylor had already leapt into the crowd, mic in hand, without thought to personal safety and his enthusiasm spread through the band as each member fed off his light and delivered a performance by far exceeding their early support slot.
When Taylor called for the horns the crowd to a man responded. When he aggressively called for a circle pit the fans obliged. The band themselves were a tightly wound coil ready to explode and the longer the set went the more control they seemed to have over proceedings.
‘Suicide Silence’ delivered a powerful message and by the time ‘Hurricane’ closed the set it was obvious the crowd wanted more.
Taylor obliged by dropping his mic on stage and racing up the steps on to the first level before hurling himself off much to the delight of the crowd who had assembled in readiness for his fall.
While She Sleeps had certainly awoken the inner passion of the crowd and by the time Crossfaith graced the stage to a dance music kind of soundtrack the audience was almost at fever pitch.
With keyboards punctuating the air, Crossfaith entered stage one at a time and met the crowd before vocalist Kenta Koie screamed “are you ready to rock?” and the mayhem ensued.
I have seen these guys twice before in Japan and while that show didn’t live up to the ferociousness of their home country gigs, it was still an impressive display from the boys from the land of the rising sun.
Crossfaith are driven largely by Terufumi Tamano on keyboards and second vocals, and while his voice in the mix wasn’t quite up to standard tonight his enthusiasm and aggression again carried the performance.
He roamed the stage like a demonic conductor, marshalling the troops and providing a focal point for the musical carnage that engulfed the stage.
Ripping through ‘Monolith’, ‘Jagerbomb’ and ‘Kill ’em All’, Crossfaith did their reputation no harm, but also didn’t quite seem to be on their game but got extra points from me for having a straight bottle of JD on stage which was almost empty by the time they finished.
Supporting their latest album Ark, In Hearts Wake have come a long way since their inception in Byron Bay.
The international flavour of music tonight proved their acceptance in the international music community and they wasted no time with their stage show in proving why.
With drums echoing through the stillness, vocalist Jake Taylor seemed alone on stage before a bang went off and the curtain dropped revealing the rest of the band before launching into ‘Passage’ and announcing in no uncertain terms that this was their show.
With black nooses hanging from each mic stand, the boys quickly set about engaging the crowd on a musical and personal level, alternating between the front of house and their positions on a regular basis and allowing fans a fleeting glimpse at poetry in motion. Each member was enjoying their moment and engaging with their fans, smiling continually and enjoying every second.
The clean vocals of Kyle Erich showcased an ambient side to the band which combined well with the unclean vocals of Taylor, with the pair of them combining vocally with contrasting styles that provided a musical backdrop to each song.
While the band’s environmental message resonated throughout, at no time did the night denigrate to preaching via music, with subtle touches such as large blow-up dolphins and sharks and stingrays appearing in the pit through ‘Frequency’ highlighting the message without forcing it down people’s throats.
When Taylor told the crowd, “This is a place for self-expression and freedom” the roar he was met with could be heard two suburbs away and the underlying level of anarchy continued through ‘Skydancer’, ‘Wildflower’ and ‘Survival’ with the band even igniting their own circle pit on stage showing the crowd how it was done.
The highlight of the night was an ambitious attempt from Taylor to crowd surf on an inflatable boat from the stage to the sound desk while holding a cake and returning successfully with a flag which was waved proudly through ‘Warcry’.
In Hearts Wake’s greatest achievement was making the crowd feel a part of their performance and with minimal, yet effective interplay forged a bond that only wound tighter as the night went on.
Finishing the night with ‘Arrow’ and ‘Refuge’ In Hearts Wake delivered a faultless display of musical aggression that provided a definitive message that Australian music is equal to, if not better than anything from the overseas market.
While it isn’t a competition, it is refreshing and humbling to know that our best can match it with the rest of the worlds best.
Photography by Ken Ken