Counterparts & Stray From The Path @ Corner Hotel, Melbourne, 14th April

My Greyscale Records hoodie came in handy on Saturday night, with Melbourne turning up the chill factor. I shivered my way to the Corner Hotel, in Richmond. After some complications with access to the show (and simply running late), I found Pridelands in full swing on stage in the band room.

The Melbourne band felt loose and relaxed, giving off a vibrant energy despite playing to a fairly sedate crowd. Sounding great, the five piece played their recently released “Machina” as well as another new track that we might learn about soon! [Watch “Machina” live in action on the night, courtesy of Emma Gunovich.]

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Given that Gippsland based Ocean Sleeper have copped a fair bit of flack from Kill Your Stereo’s Alex Sievers, I really wanted to come away from my first experience of this band with something positive to say. Unfortunately the band had some significant sound issues going on which detracted from my appreciation of their performance.

The clean vocals, while solid, seemed to overpower everything else, with the screamed vocals difficult to hear until around the third track (when they were turned up). I’m no sound engineer, but to my ears the echoing quality of the clean vocals pulled focus and made the experience seem lopsided. With Ocean Sleeper then seeming like separate pieces instead of one unit, I found it tough to appreciate what was going on lyrically. I suspect this also affected timing, as the drumming was noticeably out of time at one point.

An example of the lopsidedness was when “Six Feet Down” was played and the band felt the most ‘together’ they’d been the entire set, until the cleans joined in at the chorus. Regardless of any of this, the guys were putting in everything they had on stage and pulled off some sweet breakdowns. Ocean Sleeper fans in the crowd loved it and sang along with their band. I look forward to checking the band out again with these kinks ironed out.

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Vibrant, unified, and full of life was Ontario based Counterparts‘ vibe. The now very full audience echoed this energy back toward them, being brought to life in crowd surfing and being fully into the experience. With frontman Brendan Murphy’s smooth command over the crowd, and standout drumming by Kyle Brownlee, the whole thing felt punchy in intensity yet fluid in how it all worked together.

“Who gives a shit?” seemed to be the catchphrase of the inclusive set, where the crowd were encouraged to have fun, whether we knew the songs or not. Expressing their love for Australia, the Canadian five piece are back here touring for the first time in a year and a half, and were clearly bouncing off the appreciative crowd. Featuring tracks like “No Servant Of Mine”, “Witness”, “Swim Beneath My Skin”, Counterparts’ tight and high intensity set was punctuated with impressive rhythms. All band members were visibly having a good time, and hardworking frontman Brendan worked the crowd, inspiring possibly one of the biggest circle pits I’ve seen at the Corner.

Things continued to amp up as the set went on, with Brendan exclaiming “Holy shit, you guys are beautiful!”. The vibe was ‘I’m game if you are’, seeming to be a competition of how hard we could go, as Counterparts continued to bring the hectic heaviness and huge rhythmic breakdowns. The set was good vibes to the max, and an all-in experience for new fans and old.

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It was disappointing to see a significantly thinner crowd for Stray From The Path. Those that left after Counterparts missed out, because Stray From The Path came out strong and clear and pulled off a flawless set. Coming across alive and powerful, the Long Island band let rip with “Loudest In The Room” and “Subliminal Criminal” early in the set, easily getting everyone moving along with them.

For a band that courageously and aggressively faces controversial concepts in their music, the vibe was surprisingly high and light. The bouncing and stalking of the stage by frontman Drew York inspired a bouncing crowd too, and the energy was high and refreshing. Authenticity was the name of the game, and Drew elaborated on the stance of the band on this theme. He also spoke about Australia being one of the greatest countries on the planet, as well as gratitude in touring with ‘best friends’ in Counterparts.

Live renditions of “Goodnight Alt-Right” and “The House Always Wins” were as satisfyingly awesome as I’d hoped they would be, and I fell for the bass, the hefty riffs, and amazing drumming. As a band the guys of Stray From The Path never missed a beat, inspiring a writhing pit and feisty singalongs, such as with “First World Problem Child”. The set ended on a high with “Only Death Is Real” as encore, before we took our inspired and movement-warmed selves back out into the cold night.

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All photos are courtesy of Liam Davidson.

 

Kel Burch

Creator and caretaker of Depth Mag, Kel uses her superpowers of empathy, word-weaving, and feeling everything deeply, to immerse herself in music before returning to reality to write about her experience with it.

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