With Depth Mag firm favourites Thornhill as opener, the four-band strong Make Them Suffer show at Corner Hotel was virtually guaranteed to be a top notch band fest. Battling hoardes of football fans in Richmond to get to the venue, Liam Davidson and I took in the night of music, respectively armed with camera and Notes app.
Perhaps demonstrating Thornhill’s appeal, the line to get into the Corner at doors open was far longer than I’d seen before. The beloved Melbourne band has blown minds many times over with their EP Butterfly, and I was stoked to get to see them again. The five piece opened their set with “Sunflower”, and guitarist Ethan McCann was visibly chomping at the bit to get going.
The five piece served up their very satisfying mix of angular technical guitars along with floating vocals. It was such a good vibe to have this balance of fierce and flowing, rounded out by bass warmth and the grounded intensity of Ben Maida’s drumming. Playing “My Design” and then “Lavender”, I craved some more volume from the vocals, as an air of frustration hung over the stage. Ethan later described it to me as ‘angst’.
The crowd got progressively more and more into the set which was great to see, and I appreciated the experimental flare Jacob Charlton gave the vocals of “Joy”, as well as how the technical intricacy of guitars pull the focus of guitarists Ethan and Matt Van Duppen, as well as bassist Nick Sjogren. It’s a literal joy to watch a swing between being hardcore instrumentally focused, eyes closed and lost in the music, or outwardly grooving (and back again). Jacob also climbed down to the barrier to connect with the audience some more.
Whatever might have been bothering a fired up and punchy Matt (it wouldn’t have suprised me at all if he went full rock and roll and trashed the stage) didn’t show by way of any negativity by way of the band’s overall sound. The united band gave a very strong end to their set with “Limbo”.
Straight up, I’ll admit that I am very green on UK progressive metalcore band Oceans Ate Alaska. The five piece were on stage second, and I immediately got an impression of short and sharp blasts with fierce, tough-to-follow rhythms. Bouncing at times and blasting at others, Oceans Ate Alaska were proving to be a veritable smorgasbord of sound. Drummer Chris Turner seemed to have a lot to answer for with the band’s sound, keeping all these varied rhythms, shifts, and ideas all pulled together and centralised.
There were clearly some diehard fans present for the set, fully into the songs with their voices and bodies; which is unsurprising since the tour is the band’s first time in Australia. While I found the specific songs tough to get into (probably due to not knowing them, and not easily finding regular patterns with my ears to get into), I appreciated the clean vocals and the more intricate melodic guitar.
The steadier anthemic moments of the set were far kinder to OAA newbie ears than brutal twists and turns, and I warmed to the band as the set progressed due to this. Though there was a lot going on in this set, maybe too much at times, I’m definitely a fan of the combination of metal screams and clean and bouncing grooves in the same songs. Oceans Ate Alaska’s energy levels were high the entire set through, ending their set on a high with a nice fat breakdown.
Los Angeles based Silent Planet are intriguing to me. They were intriguing well before their inclusion on this line-up. A band that offers footnotes of their lyrical inspiration, as well as activism/change inspired music themes shared with such passion is something that definitely piqued my interest.
From the word go, I was utterly transfixed; captivated by barefoot vocalist Garrett Russell, both in the lyricism/voice and his presence. I don’t think it was just me who felt like this either, as regardless of a very full band room, you could have heard a pin drop in the silences created by very tight rhythms. It was a full band effort of wizardry, with bassist Thomas Freckleton’s vocals giving me goosebumps with clean vocals that cut direct to my core.
At this point I kind of have to disregard my notes on this band, because it’s stream-of-thought notes written by a woman overcome by what was unfolding in front of her (like “So good” “Too good”. Thanks so much, Past Me). There are honestly few words though that can capture what the experience is like, to bear witness to what Silent Planet brings to the stage, and in particular how frontman Garrett carries himself and shares his voice.
At home on stage and fully present, Garrett seems connected both in the experience and with the people he’s sharing it with. He’s full of life; a veritable outlet that passion herself is using to spark change and aliveness in all of us. From watching him stalk the stage and sing and lean into the crowd, Garrett is all-in, and is using a thoughtful voice to speak on behalf of causes, such as eating disorders. It’s a divine, almost spiritual experience, where even those who barely knew the band were feeling it. New fans were made instantly on the spot.
With voices combined and hands eager to grasp the microphone, the crowd love was off the charts, and Garrett was generous in sharing, and also held onto hands of crowd members while singing. “Panic Room” rhythmically, ethereally, and powerfully flooded the space, and “Native Blood” showcased the prowess of bass and slick guitar rhythms.
The entire experience was goosebump worthy, and this band are simply on their own level, offering “Depths II” as their final song. This is exquisite storytelling grounded in an unending well of passion. Silent Planet are driven by cause and purpose and their music is potently heightened by sheer belief, and perhaps faith. Just wow.
“THIS IS A SYSTEM RESET!” roared Make Them Suffer‘s vocalist Sean Harmanis, as the Perth band’s set began gutsily with new track “27” – released less than a month ago. Regardless of newness, “27” was an instant vibe setter, with all of the Corner Hotel band room instantly alive and high energy. It was a full-bodied introduction to the five piece, having the unique pleasure of binary being roared at us, and “But we’re connected” flowingly offered by Booka Nile on keys.
“Vortex (Interdimensional Spiral Hindering Inexplicable Euphoria)” followed, keeping energy sky high with the band members’ relentless energy, drum insanity, strobe lights, and plunging ethereal moments. A sea of arms waved along to the beat, as a fiery Sean had the crowd in the palm of his hand, and seeming really at ease as he moved around the stage.
This ‘second home’ for the Perth band was going off, while a study in rhythms, djent, slick enunciation, and blast beats ripped out with crazy pace. Sharing fan favourites from the band’s full discography, it was a high energy ride throughout. A stand-out was bassist Jaya Jeffery: With his wide stance crouch, stage antics, and incredible facial expressions, Jaya made it so very easy to get into it along with him. “Ether” saw the set out, beautifully and powerfully closing what was an amazing night jam packed with exceptional individuals in the world of music.
[All photos courtesy of Liam Davidson]