I was not going to miss Endless Heights‘ last show of the year! Nor was I going to miss a chance to catch Bloom live again. So that’s how I found myself heading to Stay Gold on Saturday night, taking in a relatively mixed bunch of bands, all in the name of Endless Heights’ latest single, “Cold Hard Kiss”.
I greeted the ghoulish and blood-coated door person at Stay Gold before heading into the cobwebbed and spidery surroundings of the bandroom. Based on this, and all the fake blood on the bathroom mirrors and sinks, Halloween is a big deal for Stay Gold!
Porcelain got the night of music started; taking to the stage first with their punk intensity and a sound that features prominent bass and raw vocals. Though the band had a great stage presence, we sedate crowd members took some time to warm up. Having said that, our heads were bouncing along with the beat and we were attentively taking in the band.
The enthusiasm of Porcelain’s vocalist proved infectious though, and his two-stepping and full movements around the stage were soon mirrored by some more committed members of the audience. As a set full of tumbling rhythms and angular moments of driving force, I was pleasantly surprised for a more chilled moment to show up in amongst it. With just a few songs to their name, Porcelain’s set was short and sweet.
And then it was Bloom’s turn. They’ve only played Melbourne a few times now (maybe three? four?), so I was hopeful for a strong turnout to take in the Sydney collective. They opened with a melodic instrumental moment before playing older single “Cure Me”. This song seemed like a great showcase of the band to newcomers; an intense and ever-changing piece of music that spans through intensity to sombre quietness and hits a full emotive peak at its end.
A tentative (but attentive) crowd at first, it all felt great nonetheless with the band seeming confident and taking it all in their stride and having a good time. The songs came fluidly with impressive tandem vocals that saw frontman Jono Hawkey either lost in the moment or outwardly expressive, or shifting from calmly spoken lines to screamed raw frustration. The songs of Past Tense are an intense journey in their recorded form, and it was a pleasure to have the same feelings experienced with the band forming the emotional atmosphere in a live setting.
Playing “Home Felt Better With You” earned more noticeable crowd love, with a mini circle pit forming and voices joining in. Even with slower moments, such as the dense and heavy “Closure”, there was an exhilarating sense of satisfaction about this band that seemed to be growing. Tight drumming pulled my focus for a lot of “Phantom Pain”, which was beautifully melodic while also tearingly emotional.
It had to be “Cold” to finish; a great song and Bloom’s most recent single which has had a lot of love since its release. It was the perfect way to end the set, and I swung between thoroughly enjoying it myself, noticing all the crowd love for the song (in body and voice), as well as enjoying some minor tweaks in playing around with the vocals. The last minute or so of “Cold” is just brilliant, and it was just the same there at Stay Gold. With wailing guitar and full band effort combining, the final impression was a strong one. When Bloom left the stage, it was one of the rare moments I’ve ever felt like calling for “one more song!” from a support band. They’re gonna need some new songs…
In contrast, Paradise Club were a shift into a whole other gear. Cleaner and breezier, the songs that emanated from the stage were tunes to lose yourself to. I likened it to melodic dreams, wafting by like clouds. With the set’s second song, stomping drums pushed the dreaminess into strength, and the chorus fell down like fresh rain.
With the use of a drum pad, the danciness was significantly lifted and Stay Gold was a sea of bouncing bodies in front of these musicians with their eyes closed, immersed in their craft. Though I’m not personally familiar with Paradise Club’s music, I happily took in the grooving and floating atmosphere along with the rest of the crowd around me who were getting into it and singing along with their band.
A palpable buzz in the air expressed how ready everyone was then to see Endless Heights, well before the Sydney band even took the stage. Last show of the year, let’s GO! With an instrumental hum, the main event was beginning and everyone moved in from outside and came closer to the stage. It was “Drain” that started us off; a song that’s haunting and sedate in some ways, but this didn’t stop frontman Joel Martorana working to get the audience engaged and connected.
Endless Heights offered something of a nod to their OG fans by playing “Whisper”, which I’m not sure I’ve ever heard them play live before, at least not recently. This went down a treat to a bouncing and singing crowd, and sounded great. Steadily and gradually unfolding, there was a huge effort on drums that blended intense force with openness. The sweat started to visibly pour.
With the set already feeling incredible (as is always the case with this band), “Come A Little Closer” had me virtually speechless in how deliberate, enunciated, careful, and rich with meaning every note and syllable was. It was very easy to get pulled into the experience with Endless Heights and forget about anything else. We were being invited to grab the mic if any part of the song(s) resonated powerfully with us, and there was clear passion from Joel for everyone there to be part of this too. The result was that it felt like OUR show, our night, and like something special, with the path clear for each of us to mosh or move or sing, and that’s exactly what happened.
Stunning instrumentation and atmosphere-inducing tones are a favourite feature of this band for me, and their magic on “Teach You How To Leave” was moving, as were the harmonies, and the continuing drive for connection. The BIGNESS of “You Coward” was all-encompassing and easy to get swept up in, ready for us all to collectively land the stinging line of “twist me in your fantasy!” in the thickness of noisy riffs combined with delicate melodic strums.
To then catch their breath (and ours too), the sweat-soaked band shifted to the heavenly “Paralyse”. Moving up close and personal to lend voices to the mesmerising song, the spellbinding cocoon of intimacy remained even when the instrumental voices gained strength. In my notes I wrote that the “spell was never broken”.
Recharged then, we were thrust back into mosh territory with “Run” and its menacing beats and guitar squeals that foreshadow the chaos to come. Stage diving was a given, as were the song’s peaks that seem custom-built to go wild to, whether on stage or on the bandroom floor. Guitarist Jem Siow always seems to take full advantage of the wildness; happily punching and throwing his body into the song.
As this was the ‘Cold Hard Kiss Tour’, the single had its turn on the setlist. I’m happy to confirm that the newbie song is just as great live as it is on repeat via Spotify. The stunning guitar tones coupled with Joel’s vocal heights was magic, as was the tension that leads into a dreamy lounge-esque groove to sway along with. Jem took the opportunity to play around with the melody, extending the outro. He could have gone on for far longer and I wouldn’t have minded.
I didn’t want it to end, but “Pray I Fade” closed the set. Mustering up whatever energy he had left, Joel kept on stage movement high, delivering jump kicks and beckoning us to join in. Using the opportunity of the barrierless show, Joel flipped into the crowd and was then lifted and carried back to the stage. The song’s final “And it burns like….!” peak saw voices and pointed fingers attempting to deliver as much of an effort as we’d been collectively invited into.
I’ve seen Endless Heights in festival settings and at The Forum and with stronger numbers in front of them, but there was something special about this one. It was an incredible show and a night to remember! See you in 2020, Endless Heights. ❤️