The hype was very real for the Polaris ‘The Mortal Coil Tour’ show at Corner Hotel in Richmond. The show was the last of the fully sold out tour, celebrating Polaris’ The Mortal Coil album, with US support The Plot In You, as well as Ambleside, and Tapestry.
Falling hard for their single “Dark Shade”, I didn’t expect to be able to see Darwin based Tapestry anytime soon. Needless to say, I was off the charts excited about it. Firstly, I discovered that these guys are really tall. Secondly, I discovered that they sound amazing on stage. Feeling like they’re at home on stage, despite being a long way from their literal homes, Tapestry’s vibe was energetic and warm. Similarly to what we’ve seen from the band by way of movement in the music video for “Ghost”, the guys were active on stage and had a strong presence. Every single person on that stage was fully present (and clearly having a good time based on the smile on bassist Connor’s face). Vocalist Tom Devine-Harrison is officially confirmed as having great pipes: He stunningly pulled off the full range of awesomeness we’ve heard on Ghost Of Me, as well as genuinely expressing the powerful emotions of the EP, at one point being doubled over.
As we heard in the tracks of Ghost Of Me, Tapestry’s set reinforced that they can do it all: Gorgeous melodic soundscapes and gentle expressions, and going hard in hectic heaviness. They had us enthralled the entire time, and closed strongly with “Love/Deception”. The coolest part of the set was when Ambleside’s vocalist Dan Stevens joined in on “Dark Shade”. Year made.
Speaking of Ambleside, it was their turn next, and they were another band I was happy to get to see again. The Adelaide based five piece powerfully opened their set with their recent release “Blur”. With solid and full sound and gorgeous clean vocals from Dean Lawrence, I wondered why the crowd weren’t more actively into this majesty. As the set progressed and Dan’s voice seemed to warm up more, so did the audience, thrashing along with the hardcore “Good Enough”, and soaking up the ache of “Dear Mother”.
Impressive drumming and beautiful instrumentals were firmly present as the set continued. “Forgive Me, Pt. 1” both set the pit alight, as well as being moving with intimate feeling harmonies. Ambleside’s vibe was ‘familiar’; that it felt like we were at home with them, and the set was comfortable, and feel-good. Finishing on a high, Tapestry’s Tom returned the earlier favour and joined in on “Wash Away”. Hell yeah!
The Plot In You fell straight into The Mortal Coil tour of Australia with barely a breath since their US tour dates. The Ohio based band opened with “RIGGED”, which could be seen as powerfully meaningful: They’re playing sold out shows across the globe, opening with a sonic middle finger toward the ‘crooked motherfuckers’ of the music industry that intended to keep them from doing what they wanted. Especially since the track is one of the most experimental pieces the band have created. Regardless, it’s an impressive opener.
The band have a strong and confident presence, with frontman Landon Tewer’s sounding impeccable live, even though he admits he “wants to die somewhere”. While he leaned on the microphone, and looked exhausted, tracks from Dispose sounded as solid as you’d expect.
The Plot continued with tracks from Happiness In Self Destruction, seeming to pour everything into it that they had, and demonstrating their bond as a band. Unfortunately there was something that kept poking at me, even though emphatic singalongs to huge anthemic choruses were happening there in front of me. There didn’t seem to be a genuine energy behind the closed eyes singing and solidly-played music. I craved some Landon Tewers sass, some sense of aliveness. Something that made it seem like they knew where they were and wanted to connect with us. It was an odd feeling, seeing a band you admire and them sounding great, but not feeling it. I gave them benefit of the doubt, put it down to exhaustion and the band feeling as wrecked as Landon’s shirt’s slogan, and decided instead to be thoroughly satisfied with experiencing the core-shaking BOOM of “Disposable Fix” in the flesh.
To be honest, my notes about Polaris’s set are sketchy because I was far too into the experience to want to look away to my phone. They kicked off with “Lucid”, and I might have uttered ‘wow’ as the clean vocals from Jake Steinhauser seemed to blanket the entire room, along with the lighting setup. The vibe was already high and I don’t think it shifted from extreme hype the entire set. It seemed like everyone in the room was banging their heads (at the very least).
Voices and crowd surfers were part of this unfolding chaotic awesomeness, with flawless guitars and drums holding things steady as frontman Jamie Hails let loose with a seemingly endless supply of energy. The pit seems suddenly expanded and the room is full of life, colour, and movement.
Hoodies are removed as the temperature soars and we feed off the addictive high vibes created by leaps and wow-level breakdowns. Polaris have us all in the palm of their hand and we easily oblige with Jamie’s invitation to slow it down, as they play “Dusk To Day” while still keeping the vibe high. Singing along with Jamie and Jake, it seems like we’re all operating as a unit with Polaris, and dreamier lighting has it all feel like a warm sunset.
The dreamy warmth continues as it’s clear that Polaris have a lot of love for Tapestry (and vice versa). Jamie talks up the Darwin band as well as Ambleside and beams heart-shaped love hands toward his band BFFs at the side stage area.
All loved up, we’re again rolling into Hectic Town with “Consume” going off. Chest bursting fury and amazing riffs spark an ever-growing pit, huge singalongs, and stage dives. We’re all bouncing and feeling sweaty, while Ryan seemingly effortlessly pulls off an impressive guitar solo as well as other melodic noodling (there’s probably a better word for that – it was good). I start to watch this set like I’m studying it, because it’s flawless, honestly, and Jamie could teach frontmen classes: Throughout the experience, we’re kept aware of what’s coming, and new fans are welcomed to the experience. That connection, sense of safety, encouragement, and involvement matters.
My thoughts went to a recent article I’d read, where the author decided that rock was dead or dying, with hip hop being the future of music. Anyone at Corner Hotel with eyes could see that this heavier end of the rock spectrum is alive and fucking well. I looked around at all of us involved, all of the sweating, moving, smiling, singing, supporting.. We all put effort, time, and money toward being there, and are part of this unmistakably alive experience that bands like Polaris are important factors of. Every single date on their tour sold out and it’s not hard to see why. We want this experience, as well as merch we can hold and wear, and handshakes and selfies with these musicians that speak for us or just make us momentarily forget our personal dramas. This scene is energised and unwavering.
I wondered ‘Are we all feeling this?’. And then I saw all of the guys of Polaris obviously lost in the music and Jamie becoming emotional with “In Somnus Veritas”. With sweat wiped away, perfect instrumentals, and all of us holding our breath while we witness it happen, it felt like a significant experience for everyone present.
The set continues as “Frailty” goes hard, with movement all around me, Rick smiling, and Jamie dancing. “Casualty” turns up the djent factor and I’m surprised to feel like this set is making me love Polaris even more. “The Remedy” felt like a uniting anthem of some kind for all of us there celebrating at the Corner. It really doesn’t get much better than this. All hail Polaris!
Offering “Sonder” and “Regress” as encore, Polaris end with strength, emotion, more dance moves from Jamie, and high energy all around. Undeniably now, Polaris are a must-see, a must-experience, and a must-support.
All photos by Rowan Donohue.