"It kept coming down to the quickly deteriorating voice of Stringer .. butchered singing stopped the crowd from really losing our shit like we wanted to."
If you're someone who has never been to a metal concert at the Qantas Credit Union Arena, picture this: a seething mass bashing their heads, bodies waterfalling over the front barricades testing the strength and patience of 14 security guards, and speakers set to brain aneurysm mode. Aussie rockers Hands Like Houses enter looking a little like the Bondi Hipsters. They quickly earned the respect of the blue-haired, black-wearing crowd, with anthemic alt-rock songs Introduced Species and New Romantics showing off Trenton Woodley's flawless vocals and the velocity of Matt Parkitny's drumming, trying the speakers on for size. They didn't leave the stage until Woodley acknowledged the reason they were there, paying tribute to the originally announced supporting act The Ghost Inside who were injured when their tour bus collided with a semi-truck in Texas in November.
Motionless In White are the thing of nightmares on stage, with members dressed in horror film costumes a la Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Dracula, running, jumping and generally freaking the shit out of us through the entire set. Chris "Motionless" Cerulli is half metalcore, half Marilyn Manson, but the mic level won't let us hear his momentary clean moments from their first appearance in Devil's Night to their last gasp in Reincarnate. A cover of Linkin Park's One Step Closer got the previously chaotic (yet voiceless) crowd singing/screaming along, with Motionless acknowledging "You guys don't know what the fuck you're watching right now... Bring on A Day To Remember already." He's probably right — for this crowd, they may have just been a little too on the heavy side.
A small town in Florida gave birth to A Day To Remember and threw it out into the world before it really knew what it was. Pop-punk riffs versus Jeremy McKinnon's intermittent roar makes them sound a lot like Green Day hired a hard vocalist. It's understandable that purists may feel there is a certain perversion behind meshing metal with sharp, clean vocals and shiny rock guitar riffs — basically, they're very American and very formulaic, complete with a Star Wars introduction, confetti canons, Red Cups and toilet paper thrown from stage. And the crowd lost their freakin' minds. ADTR are a spectacle unto themselves, with punters so enthralled the band can literally command they do laps in the "biggest goddamn circle pit Sydney will see tonight." City Of Ocala had everyone singing tribute to the band's hometown, and during All Signs Point To Lauderdale no one noticed McKinnon begin to go out of tune because they were too busy following his instructions to tandem crowdsurf, to the horror of the security. Alex Shelnutt pushed the tempo with skill and precision and had the entire stadium singing along with If It Means A Lot To You, closing their set to a thunderous roar.
If you think you know the metalcore sound of The Amity Affliction from their records, you don't: live, they are a whole other story. Open Letter introduced us to just how heavy they can be, the horns of the audience lifting as Joel Birch's guttural bellow and Ryan Burt's drumming jackknifed through the sound system. And then Ahren Stringer opened his mouth and instantly we knew something wasn't right. We love Amity for many reasons — one being their addictive clean choruses. And Stringer can't sing them live. It might be that the register is too high; he's strained, warbling, unable to hold the melody. To top it off, his mic volume is too low, so heaving through his throat to project those high notes, especially in Pittsburgh, makes his voice crack even more. To be on the safe side, Stringer chose the lower harmony of the bridge, which would have been fine if he hadn't attempted to break back into the higher register harmony momentarily, failing, and going back down again. It was like he was testing out what melody he was more comfortable singing, which should have been figured out in rehearsal and during previous shows. The band make up for the vocals in their energy, pounding speed and the flawless spitting of lyrics from Birch through crowd favourites Never Alone, The Weigh Down and their latest hit Shine On, with as many lasers and spotlights as the rig can handle. There were even fire jets, as if the effects could get any more epic at this concert! But it kept coming down to the quickly deteriorating voice of Stringer, whose guitar was on point, but butchered singing stopped the crowd from really losing our shit like we wanted to.
Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter