“Just keep spinning. We got all night baby, let’s go!”
In our fleeting time on this earth, there aren’t many things worth sacrificing your hearing for. The Sydney metalcore quintet Polaris, however, are a definitive exception. On a sweltering Saturday eve (4 March), the arched tin roof of Brisbane’s Triffid loomed overhead – the perfect airlock ostracising the outside world. And for a good reason. Aussie thrashers Pridelands took to the stage, and the glorified shed in which we stood was transformed into a realm of madness.
“Are you ready to raise the roof off the Triffid?” Donning neon sunglasses, vocalist Mason Bunt leapt onto a raised platform. The cacophony of screeches that sounded from the pit was the only answer he needed. “It’s feeling like a party now!” A party. A riot. A cage fight. Here, they were all one and the same.
Melbourne’s own Void Of Vision came out next with guns, or rather capes, blazing. Ever the dark phantom, frontman Jack Bergin swept into the spotlight, a raven cloak streaming behind him in the gloom. He split the mosh in two, and the vocal fry that tore from his throat sent the room into anarchy.
Hearty congratulations were in order if it had reached nine o’clock and you hadn’t yet broken your nose. However, if it had reached nine o’clock and you weren’t nearly melting in your own sweat, you were at the wrong gig. Polaris themselves finally surfaced from the shadows, and I chanced a glance at the rest of the crowd. Eyes alight and skin glistening under the azure LEDs, everyone looked like they’d taken a quick dip in the Adriatic. We were indeed at the right gig.
Midway through Aspirations, the second track off the band’s 2013 EP Dichotomy, the pit may as well have turned into the Adriatic itself. A series of crowd surfers braved the outstretched hands as Jamie Hails let out a scream so guttural that the majority of them fell over the barrier as everybody’s arms buckled. Venue security heaved the surfers right back in, and they re-joined the fray as Hails orchestrated a mass circle pit. “Just keep spinning. We got all night, baby; let’s go!”
Hails leaned close to the front row. “I feel like this question is a bit redundant, but who knows our EP The Guilt & The Grief?” The room went wild, and Hails threw his head back, laughing. “That’s what I thought.” For a song titled No Rest, the first fifteen seconds of reverbed soft-pedal piano chords, melodic singing from bassist, and clean vocalist Jake Steinhauser prove an intriguing juxtaposition for new listeners. That was until drummer Daniel Furnari launched into a series of meaty double kicks, and one realised there was, in fact, no rest.
Unfamiliar saw the room doused in a mist so green it looked like an airborne poison that happened to be borderline radioactive. The mosh was at its zenith, those taking refuge on the balcony peering over its edges to survey the mayhem below as guitarist Ryan Siew lathered on delicious, pinched harmonics at the song’s end.
If any track of the night had somehow developed the ability to surpass the max amp volume in true Spinal Tap style, it was Regress. Rick Schneider, on rhythm guitar, layered a collection of gritty stabs. Furnari was a blur performing roll after roll after roll, and the pit split again before converging in the middle as the final chorus played. Someone threw a bag. Someone threw a shoe. Another had even thrown an open water bottle or two.
“This album, The Mortal Coil, really laid the groundwork for what Polaris has become today,” was how Hails introduced their following number, Consume. “You guys hydrating? You guys drinking lots of water?” The answer to that was an obvious no, and everybody clambered for a sip from the free cups before Bunt reappeared on the stage to perform the song’s last chorus with Hails. “We used to sleep on their floor every time we came to Melbourne,” Hails reminisced as Bunt was lauded with endless caterwauls of praise.
Hails slunk along the stage’s edge. “Tonight, we’ve given you everything, from the past all the way to the present.” He beckoned us forward as if letting us in on a clandestine secret. And he was. “Now, we want to leave you something for the future. Do you want to hear a new song?” As if that was even a question. The roar that came from the pit was so loud the ceiling seemed to shudder, and I honestly wondered if perhaps we were genuinely about to blow the roof off the Triffid. Inhumane had it all – a dirty bass riff, a distorted vocal fry, a guitar solo with a twinge and glitch effects so unreal that it was, in the very sense of the word, inhumane.
After three hours of stimulation, everyone shuffled, or rather stumbled, out of the venue. The Grand Theft Auto theme song filtered through the speakers as everyone laughed, breathless and utterly exhausted.
Or, perhaps more accurately, utterly alive.