Greyscale Records Showcase @ Corner Hotel, Melbourne

Not even single-digit temperatures could keep Melburnian heavy music lovers away from the Corner Hotel on Saturday night. The Greyscale Records Showcase is the first event of its kind, bringing together a night of music with bands from the label. Since their formation in August 2016, Greyscale Records have become known for being an incubator for stellar bands in the world of Australian heavy music. Their love for their bands and the label’s ethos of humility and hard work is something worth celebrating, and it was a pleasure to be part of the sold out “Greyscale Day”.

Fitting for Greyscale’s nurturing of great bands, they’d had a competition to choose the opener band for their showcase. Ballarat based Anticline were the winners of the competition, and kicked off proceedings at the Corner. Though I just missed their set, Depth writer Alec Wilson was there and loved it.

Similar to my observations last time we’d caught the band, guitarist William Baker was a standout for Alec; enthusiastic and intense the entire way through the set, and with complimentary low vocals opposite vocalist Dylan Volk’s higher tones.  Alec noticed the crowd getting into the Anticline set in a big way and appreciated the killer rhythms and tight drumming. Alec felt that the band “knew what they were doin” and ended their set with some massive breakdowns that seemed to make the ground shake.

I was absolutely stoked to learn that Brisbane based Deadlights would be part of the showcase. They had some technical issues to start off and it made for an erratic and scattered start, but they managed to find their way quickly.  Deadlights offered up a blend of tight rhythms and playful energy, as well as earnestly and passionately sharing the messages in their music. All smiles and clearly having a good time on stage with each other and in sharing tunes from their Mesma album, there were plenty of opportunities for the crowd to join in in movement or voice – we obliged! It was very cool to be amongst so many Deadlights fans and see the guys on the Corner Hotel stage!

Containing three of the best vocalists of our scene, the Deadlights set didn’t disappoint with sky high notes hit by guitarist/vocalist Tynan Reibelt and bassist/vocalist Sean Prior, and wild roars from frontman Dylan Davidson. I’m never going to turn down an opportunity to hear “Bathed In Venom” live, with its vibe of urgency, sawing and sharp guitar lines, and steady bass. It was a great finish to the set, with punters circling the famous Corner Hotel pole and Dylan dancing around the stage. The four piece also shared an unreleased song, which seemed more punishing/heavy than “Bathed In Venom”, and contained huge choruses and intense and fast verses. Keen for that when it comes!

Attention then turned to the little stage in the Corner Hotel bandroom, where Stuck Out‘s frontman Josh Walker had the tough task of playing sweet tunes to a chatty and excited crowd. With the on-stage vibe chilled and casual, Josh shared songs from Stuck Out’s You Won’t Come Home EP, What We’ve Come To Be EP and the band’s newest single, “Everything You Wanted”. The combination of the two stages gave the event a cool festival vibe and punters could use the main stage changeover time to catch up with friends, drink, or take in the music.

Aburden‘s set had the red curtains closed in preparation, which added a sprinkle of hype. Once curtains opened, their lighting and visual setup was impressively revealed, before the opening notes of “Sorry.” filled the room. Frustratingly for Aburden, there was something that went awry with their backing track or similar which impacted their timing. They sounded huge nonetheless with their soaring guitar and yearning vocals, and worked to persist as best they could, like the professionals that they are.

Crowd favourite “They Say” inspired more crowd participation with Aburden, and carried a beautiful atmosphere, despite the anguish in what is shared in the song. As a nice surprise, Christopher Vernon took to the stage for his vocal feature for the song, and it seemed like Aburden were back on track, timing wise. As an apparent theme of the night, Aburden also shared a new song! I loved the vocal rhythms of the unreleased track, as well as its bouncy urgency and great chorus.

Adding to my ‘best vocalists in the scene’ statement, maybe it’s a Greyscale thing, because Kyle Burrows stunningly and impressively nailed every note with no issues, all the way from the sombre start of “To The Sky” through to its lofty peaks. In the meantime, instrumental layers and percussive strikes seemed custom designed to extract feels from us present. Not complaining at all. Mason Forster worked overtime and kept the crowd engaged; energetically joining them at the barrier or gliding between his place at the piano and the mic.  Aburden are such an underrated band and it was a pleasure to see them in action again!

The little stage then had Matt Doherty of former Greyscale Records band Our Past Days (RIP) share some mellow tuneage. Noisy as shit in the Corner Hotel bandroom (to put it bluntly) it was still a treat to see Matt with his eyes closed and lost in his music. The sweet and hopeful but sad “Bloom Where You’re Planted” from the Keep Safe album was a standout. Matt also celebrated the Greyscale guys and the way in which they give bands the chance to succeed.

Every time I see Gravemind play live, I’m wowed by the hold they seem to have over the crowd as well as how they own the stage; seeming so controlled while at the same time monstrous in sound and energy. Is it to do with how they practice? Is it some kind of sorcery? Regardless, the Gravemind magic was there at the Corner Hotel too, with only a brief introduction/warning before the intense ride began with “Volgin”. The Melbourne band’s Conduit album has been impressing since its release less than a month ago, and it was a pleasure to take in some of the album’s songs in a live setting.

Turbulent and heaving, the crowd was fully into the Gravemind experience and screaming lyrics back at their band. It was incredible watching Gravemind’s guitarists fully focused on their craft, with stunning songs like “Reveal” coming at us like an instrumental feast and vocalist Dylan Gillies-Parsons feeling fittingly menacing on stage.

“Phantom Pain” was a stand-out for me; heart-wrenching and just as beautifully moving as I’d hoped. Watching Gravemind, I thought to myself how this was a band hitting a majestic stride in their music, and finding a beautiful sweet spot of sound and emotion. This band can do no wrong at the moment! The wild and hectic “Reading;Steiner” was also noteworthy with it’s fat breakdowns. The set finished on a high with “Lifelike”.

The little stage should have been done for the night, but the Greyscale guys had some surprises up their sleeve. Sydney based Whatever, Forever were not only there to play music, they were there as the newest signing to Greyscale Records! Congratulations, Whatever, Forever! They thoroughly rocked the tiny stage with more energy than you’d think it could hold, and shared their wild melodic punk with an attentive crowd. I loved hearing “Bridges” in the flesh, and it sounded amazing live, on all fronts.

Setting an introductory tone of letting the homophobes, racists etc know that they’re not welcome, Antagonist AD took to the main Corner Hotel stage in a big way with “No Justice”.  With high energy and presence, it was so good to hear “I AM MY OWN KING!” screamed by a full crowd.  Steady and strong, the set proved to be a great opportunity for a mosh from the outset and circle pits, crowd surfing, and other wild scenes in the pit were a mainstay of the Antag set.

I’m always struck by how much heart and passion comes from the stage when I’ve seen Antagonist AD play. The Greyscale Showcase was no different, and songs like “For Anyone Who Hurts” are part of that heart; where ridiculously pummelling beats, hefty riffs, and relentless fury and fire come wrapped up with an unwavering desire for things to improve. Literally in my notes: “The fire for living a good life in your own way coming from the stage is infectious.

Sharing that “There is always someone who loves you”, the set was a connective one, and vocalist Sam Crocker frequently joined the crowd at the barrier. (He apparently also fell off the stage too!)  The band’s love and gratitude to Greyscale Records extended to coercing both Josh Merriel and Ash Hull to crowd surf.

Leaving no scrap of energy in the reserves, Antagonist AD kept it coming with a wild and unrelenting pace. For the last song of the set, people were invited to do their best to come up on stage, with flailing limbs and bodies keeping the security guards busy.

Headliners Alpha Wolf then took to the stage, kicking things off with “Sub Zero”. The aggressive song sounded incredible with its bending riffs, stuttery rhythms, and drum outro. This flowed straight into “#104” which was huge and strong and kept hype and energy high and had a room full of voices joining in.

Blending songs from their Fault EP and Mono album, Alpha Wolf delivered an incredible set with flawless sound quality. With a substantial discography now, they have a bunch of stellar songs to choose from, which made for a setlist that was chock full of… well… bangers, basically! Despite the dark subject matter at times, these songs are a joy to move with and sing along to. Even the bouncy and hectic “Nail Biter” had a turn.

As an energetic frontman, Lochie Keogh kept things moving and kept the vibe high, with vocals reinforced by the screams, roars, and singing from bassist John Arnold. Guitarist Sabian Lynch stalked and lurched on the stage, fitting the dark themes. Throughout the set, with songs like the grooving/punching/solemn “Golden Fate; Gut Ache” or the punchy and persistent “No Name”, drummer Mitch Fogarty never missed a beat, and Scottie Simpson just quietly got the job done and nailed it! Alpha Wolf are a class act that are 100% all on the same page with their music, and it shows.

Sharing their appreciation for Greyscale Records and refusing to do a shoey (thank God!), Alpha Wolf played “Black Mamba” to end the set. With stunning guitar tones and every member nailing it, there’s really not much else to add to this heaping of praise. These songs go down easy, feel great, and definitely ended the Greyscale Showcase on a high.

Though Depth is a relatively small music website, we’ve appreciated the kindness from the guys of Greyscale Records and their openness to whatever ideas we’ve thrown their way when it comes to supporting their bands. It was great to be there to celebrate Ash and Josh and their efforts over the last three years, and see all the love and appreciation coming at them from their musical Greyscale ‘kids’.

So TL;DR, this was a blast. When’s the next one?! 🙂

[Photos courtesy of Liam Davidson. If you dig Liam’s work, feel free to leave him a tip here.]
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. [Loved the read? Shout Kel a latte.]

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