There’s nothing like a local gig, especially in Melbourne; the live music capital of the world, apparently! It had been awhile since I attended one, so I happily used The Brave‘s ‘Technicolor Tour’ as my ‘fix’. Bendigo Hotel is a great little venue; dark, cosy, and full of skull decorations. Inside and ready to go, I caught up with friendly faces and settled in to see opener To Octavia.
Though I originally thought I was new to To Octavia, I gradually realised that I’d seen the band before under the moniker of Wicked Figures. It was quickly a busy and active crowd around me getting stuck into the local band’s set. Tandem vocals with the vocalist and bassist worked well, and each member of the quintet oozed focus while up on stage. To Octavia’s songs were intriguing and interesting, blending a lot of different sounds and rhythms, and unafraid to slow it down at times. Wildness combined with threads of clarity and atmospheric breaks during the set, and it was impressive despite a lot of moving parts being pulled together. To Octavia ended their set with a big finish, coming across moshy at the same time as anthemic, and the crowd obliged with a wall of death that was more bouncy than vicious. It was a good time!
BLKLST are still smouldering from the late 2018 release of their Hard to Swallow EP. Opening with “Donnie Narco”, a strong and mesmerising tone was set with this slow build of a song. The Melbourne band then offered up slamming tunes that carried a veil of eeriness throughout them, with searching vocals trying to make their way out of the dense atmosphere. Single “Hypocrite” was a huge song in the flesh, falling upon us with its thick beats and curling vocals.
The Bendigo Hotel bandroom was pretty warm and sweaty by this point! Glistening with sweat, vocalist Joshua Westwick poured his frustration into “Psycho”, virtually wringing himself out emotionally, echoed by the “you make me sick” line. Though the mosh gained intensity as the set went on, most of us were content to sedately soak up the heaviness. A pocket of the crowd seemed to be more passionate than the rest, and BLKLST dedicated a ‘heavy one’ to “these four guys”. Aptly presented in red lighting, the stand-out features of the fury-laden set for me were the great choruses, bendy riffs, spaciousness created by breakdowns, and the eerie atmosphere the band easily created.
It seemed inevitable that Windwaker would attract a strong crowd, with the release of their sophomore EP Empire that same day. Before they’d even started, home town friends and fans were milling around the bandroom, with whoops and excited chatter hinting at the hype on what was ‘Windwaker Day’. “Reject” was where the set began with bass sass, brazen vocals, and intricate guitar. All of this made for a huge and full start! Ripping straight into “New Infinite”, we were requested to crouch down before the breakdown, before leaping up in sweaty unity.
A full and bouncing crowd filled the Bendigo Hotel bandroom, appreciating the riff intricacy and bass thickness. The humidity in the room seemed fitting for the snarling vibe of frustration wrapped up in songs. Mic grabs were frequent and the band felt very together and well rehearsed. A breathless Will King led us into “My Empire”, and it was a stunning start with big singalongs and moshing. As they did at Download in Melbourne, Windwaker nailed their songs in the live setting.
Sharing a combination of songs from Empire and Fade, the set was a full experience for Windwaker fans. It featured a circle pit for “Arrested” as well as crowd surfing and Will jumping down to join the crowd. For moments of “Take Me With You”, the crowd’s singing seemed louder than the band, and our eyes were regularly drawn to the kaleidoscopic guitar artistry being created by Jesse Crofts. Thankfully ignoring shoey requests, “The Sitch” ended Windwaker’s set on a high; going down an absolute treat, with everyone in the room bouncing along.
I don’t know The Brave‘s music anywhere near well enough, to be honest, but “Ethereal” lived in my head for a very long time after it was released. Fortunately for me, the single was where the Brisbane band started their set, and it sounded amazing in the flesh. Vocalist Nathan Toussaint effortlessly hit every note and was strongly beaming eye contact toward the crowd. The quintet felt full on stage and the beefy bass tone was sick, as was a drum interlude, and I appreciated the clarity of sound. Discovered Magazine‘s editor Georgia Rawson was beside me and commented on how great the show was sounding in such a small venue, in comparison to what she was used to at local gigs in the UK.
Despite not knowing the songs intimately, I appreciated The Brave’s tandem vocals, as well as the flowing storytelling vibe of these heavy tunes. The quintet shared a new song from their upcoming album Aura, which put vocals centre stage and carried a pleading vibe along with richness of bass.
Nathan’s fluid vocals captivated attention throughout, even if the other band members didn’t seem to outwardly give much away to form connections with the crowd (from where I was standing anyway). The crowd was sparser than I expected, and I was seeing a lot of heads bobbing mildly, even though Nathan was singing his guts up, bassist Daniel Neucom was roaring like his life depended on it, and the songs were hitting hard courtesy of drum intensity.
I was about to make note of criticism about a lack of connection when The Brave surprised me by not only just slowing it down by way of pace, but by Nathan literally sitting down on the edge of the stage. With phone torches lit, people who were in the pit area sat down too, and swayed and sung. It was quite a unique quiet moment for a gig from this corner of the heavy music spectrum. Tender notes filled the space and it was absolutely most definitely connective.
Falling back into heavy land, it was call-and-answer vocals and a pace that seemed to veer from punk hecticness to steady rock and back again. Recently released single “Technicolor” came soon after and sounded great with its savage screams. It was a mellow crowd response though, until a wall of death sparked fire of movement and moshing out of our tired selves. “Searchlights” was the last song of the night which rode this wave of energy, with huge riffs and the band broadly covering the stage. Fists punched up into the air to accentuate words along with the band. The peaking and climbing song was an impressive close to a night of great music!
Photos courtesy of Liam Davidson.