Melbourne’s Cherry Bar on ACDC Lane has become synonymous with really great gigs. We’ve witnessed the Thornhill Butterfly EP launch there as well as the Better Half Maybe I Was Wrong EP launch. Both of those gigs were intimate and awesome, with really heartfelt music being shared. Cherry Bar’s vibe last night was already high before the bands began; the space gradually filling with people chatting and feeling happy to be here. I love this venue and consider it one of Melbourne’s best, even just for atmosphere alone.
We were here to celebrate Melbourne alternative rockers Aburden‘s My Old Friend era coming to a close, as the band are on the cusp of sharing something new. The seven tracks of My Old Friend share a fairly dark story relating to a struggling friend. With a well-crafted blend of angst-heavy clean and unclean/spoken vocals and gorgeous melodic instrumentals, the 2017 release has easily left a mark on listeners, who sold out the show with the opportunity to back their band and their powerful EP.
Parkwood were first on stage for the night; a Melbourne melodic hardcore band that I’d not had the pleasure of seeing live at this point, despite thoroughly enjoying their Close To Home EP when I reviewed it. They’re a relatively new band, being the same age as Depth (forming in January 2017), so it was a pleasure to see them on this bill.
The five piece pulled an intrigued crowd and very quickly started punching at our feelings just as hard as they were punching at their instruments. Playing “Lose Yourself” and “Hold”, Parkwood were holding nothing back and were fully into their set, with waves of melodic hardcore rippling through Cherry Bar.
I loved every minute of this set, which was a sweet blend of clean vocals and desperate screams/spoken word were fiercely and rawly poured out, with drum beats feeling like bullet strikes, and swirling instrumentation. Both Alec Wilson and Sam Bianco shone with raw emotion going into their rip-your-heart-in-two vocals; pouring out over a drum build-up which smashed down into a rough instrumental sea and angst heavy cries.
Parkwood have mastered the art of emotional savagery. Even with never-before-heard songs, I felt like crying in response. “Goodbye” was a heavy emotional hit to close the set, with crowd voices movingly joining in, leaving me feeling pretty ruined. It was a good time for this feels-addict, and a reminder to listen to more Parkwood.
Melodic punk/emo band Whatever, Forever followed. Featuring members from Justice For The Damned and (no longer together) Our Past Days, Whatever, Forever were something of a Greyscale Records roster supergroup! I’d never seen the Sydney five piece before, but (after sorting out some technical difficulties) was immediately impressed by Chas Levi’s stunning work on guitar, and vocalist Michael Godwin’s wide-eyed ‘watch me fuck shit up’ variety of tension.
The set was a feast of solid soundscapes with edgy and messy angst, punctuated by wow levels of fierceness, impressive clean vocals, and captivating stage presence. On stage ‘for a good time, not a long time’, Whatever, Forever went hard at it and put everything in to their songs. They hit us with rhythmic twists and turns, searing riffs, and sparser moments, before heading into full blown assault mode. I loved the dynamic of three vocalists, and the tightly-wound strength of ending with “Truth”.
It’s been awhile since I saw The Comfort in action. Maybe when the Brisbane band joined Young Lions at Evelyn Hotel? With gorgeous tandem vocals and stunning soundscapes, the four piece were off to a delicious start to their set with “Mesada”; made magical with rawness of feedback, vocal ache, building drums, and a gorgy piano backing. The set was already moving, and continued to be so when a steady and sombre new song was shared, while the guys seemed to get lost in the guitars and the swimming melody, and the bass warmth rippled through the crowd. I loved what was being painted with sound here.
The Comfort go hard and are emotionally full on. These self-described ‘sad and tired’ guys offered up a steady train of velvet voices and harmonious ache; powerfully amplified by all members of the band. “Deprime” was a stunning end to their set, with a monotonous confessional flood bursting out into melodic heaviness, and bassist Dominic Harper playing that thing like he hated it. It was yet another set which threatened to make me cry. Well played, The Comfort. Well played.
With this show, Aburden were taking to the stage for the first time in five months, though you wouldn’t have guessed it based on how at home they seemed. A pulsing and ethereal introduction set the mood and sparked hype for what was about to happen. The band’s latest release, “To The Sky” was a powerful opener, before sharing the first track of My Old Friend, “Forgive Me”. With each word powerfully enunciated and sung by the crowd along with Kyle Burrows and Mason Forster, and stunning lights blasting through the haze, it was clear that we were all in. It was already moving and captivating, with aching fire behind each line spoken, and the Melbourne five piece presented a united front and confident stage presence.
With gorgeous melodic riffs, warm bass, and softer takes to some spoken word sections, “Without You” sounded even better live than recorded and I was already loving this celebration of these songs. Aburden paused on their track-by-track share of My Old Friend to play a new banger “One For You”, which went down a treat. We’ve since learned that the drum-centric and melodic track will have its official premiere tomorrow on triple J ‘Good Nights’ (September 3rd, 6pm)!
Back into My Old Friend, an emotional heaviness hanging in the air courtesy of sweetness of guitar and vocal ache. “Without Me” sounded amazing with crowd voices joining in powerfully with the band, and I was struck with the thought that ‘this is our song just as much as theirs’, and just how much love there was there in the Cherry Bar for Aburden.
It was a pleasure watching these guys get lost in their craft, sharing our well-loved tracks and another cheeky new one (“Need You”). The ‘party’ for My Old Friend was made even greater by having Christopher Vernon join in, who not only has a vocal feature on “They Say”, but also recorded, mixed, and mastered the EP, along with writing several tracks.
The heartfelt set closed with “Face To Face”; the first single the band ever released. It was a very fitting end to a night celebrating where Aburden have come from, and gearing up for where they are going next. Good times!
[All photos courtesy of Albert Lamontagne]