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THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT 20 YEARS OF BEGINS HERE: Enmore Theatre, Sydney 03/02/24

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Words by Matt New

Pix by Angie New Photography

Adored by thousands of fans and respected by many of their musical peers, The Butterfly Effect have long been considered one of the most influential bands in the Australian heavy music scene over the past three decades. Their debut album Begins Here celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2023 and to commemorate this milestone the band decided to treat their dedicated fan base to a national tour, performing the album in its entirety.

This particular album holds a special place in my heart, as I have very fond memories of listening to it on repeat while studying for my Bachelor’s degree in Music during the early 2000s. It’s amazing how quickly time has flown by, yet we still find ourselves connecting to the same emotions conveyed in these remarkable songs from such a unique period in musical history.

It is great to see the band active once again, touring and releasing new music after a considerable hiatus. Their sound has always been very distinguishable among some of the other powerhouses of the genre, with Clint‘s soaring operatic vocals, Kurt’s intensely passionate guitar playing, Glenn’s melodically powerful basslines and vocal harmonies, and finally Ben’s metronomic drum grooves. A sound that has had an incredible influence on many alternative metal and progressive bands in this country since. You can hear the DNA of their sound in bands such as Dead Letter Circus and Caligula’s Horse, just to name a few. So, before even arriving at the Enmore for the show, you knew the show was going to be incredibly emotional and special. Fans have substantially missed this band and showed up in droves for the experience.

I thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to review a band that I have never heard of or seen live before. It intrigues me to discover what amazing bands may be there for the future of the heavy music scene.

Melbourne’s 4-piece alt-rockers, Wayside, were new territory for me, and from the very first song, they achieved what many could not: they seemed to have a vortex that sucked me in. Their highly melodic sound and catchy vocal hooks instantly grabbed my attention and had me humming along. Their sound was a beautifully woven web that drew influence from bands such as Deftones, Something For Kate, and genres such as Shoegaze and alternative metal. They reminded me a lot of a band I witnessed for the first time in the USA last year called Spotlights, who also blew my mind.

Everything was on point with this young band, and as I waited in line to buy merchandise, their mix had my jaw hitting the ground. Releasing their second album, What Does Your Soul Look Like, in 2023, a large portion of their set was a showcase for these tracks, which offered a great variety of songs. Additionally, they were extremely grateful and visibly humbled to be supporting one of their favorite bands on such an important occasion. Wayside was a breath of fresh air and one of the best new bands I have seen in a very long time. I highly recommend checking them out if you have never seen them before.

There is a deep appreciation and reciprocated love between The Butterfly Effect and their fans, which has been evident throughout their entire career. All of the band members are incredibly talented musicians who are in addition humble characters. This was exemplified by bassist Glenn Esmond‘s heart-warming Instagram post before the show in Sydney, where he expressed his gratitude for celebrating his 30-year career as a professional musician and his excitement for performing at Sydney’s fabled Enmore Theatre for the first time. The only downside to bands performing albums in full is that the set list is known beforehand, but The Butterfly Effect was aware of this and had a few surprises in store for the audience during the show.

As the clock ticked over to 9pm and the house lights dimmed, a video montage showcasing significant events from 2003 was played on a large screen behind the drum riser. This served as a nostalgic reminder of life 20 years ago and the music that was popular at that time. The band then took the stage to a thunderous applause and started their performance with the Intro track of Begins Here, followed by Perception Twin. The latter was a powerful and heavy track in which vocalist Clint Boge performed on a riser at the rear of the stage, drawing inspiration from one of the band’s major influences, Tool. Clint rejoined the band at the front and center of the stage for One Second of Insanity, orchestrating a significant tempo shift during the breakdown that drove the crowd into a frenzy.

One of the surprises for these shows was the addition of cello and piano to the band’s ensemble. This added an ethereal layer to their already dense arrangements and brought a more sensitive approach to some songs. A stripped-back performance of Beautiful Mine was a clear example of the intimate intentions behind having these instruments on tour. The performance was haunting and mesmerizing, and just when the audience became comfortable with the arrangement, the band returned from the bridge section with incredibly powerful riffs and grooves that intensified the overwhelming emotions evoked by the music.

Songs from the Begins Here record, such as Crave, Always, and Without Wings were received with great enthusiasm. Almost everyone in the venue was singing along word for word, jumping up and down in the mezzanines, and hugging each other as they were overcome by the power of this monumental evening. The live performance of this iconic album was delivered flawlessly, but the boys from Brisbane had more in store. They treated the crowd to an encore of other hits, including Window and the Watcher, Take it Away, and Reach. However, the most emotional moment of the band’s set was a stripped-back version of Gone from their 2006 album Imago. The song was dedicated to all the people they had lost throughout their journey as a band, leaving a touching and poignant impression.

This is, by far, the best Butterfly Effect show I have witnessed in a very long time. It was evident that an incredible amount of planning and care went into ensuring the production and arrangements were perfected for this tour. Hats off to the band’s crew for making the show unforgettable. I am extremely excited for what the future holds for The Butterfly Effect. Thank you, lads, for an amazing album and a live performance that took everyone back to a very magical time in our lives.

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