Thornhill: ‘The Dark Pool’ Tour @ Stay Gold, Melbourne

Soon to be appearing on many Album Of The Year lists is The Dark Pool; Thornhill‘s debut album. To celebrate the release, the five piece are on a run of Australia’s east coast, bringing along some of the best the scene has to offer on The Dark Pool Tour.

Tapestry is one of those bands. Freshly relocating from Northern Territory to Melbourne, the show served as the first for the band as Melbourne locals. They had the task of opening the show at Stay Gold, and immediately pulled focus of the growing crowd with mammoth drum beats before diving into the yearning and energetic “Ghost”.

Bringing the songs of their Ghost of Me EP to life, Tom, Luke, Darcy, Connor, and Ben shared wildness at times and dreaminess at others, and showed ease in both of those ‘worlds’. Singalong favourite “Dark Shade” was a combination of the two and sounded great, and saw vocalist Tom Devine-Harrison drop to the stage floor with his final scream. Even though delicate peaks of “Retrospect” were taken in by a relatively stationary crowd, there was still some movement and a few voices joining in.

Standout features of the Tapestry set for me included stunning guitar tone from Luke Dorwand, frontman Tom’s persistence in connecting with the crowd (including stalking the bandroom floor amongst the audience), and Ben Masters’s insane effort behind the drums on the set’s huge finish, “Love/Deception”. In fact the entire band gave their incredible all to this hectic final song. Good times!

Mirrors were up then, and it’s been a little while since I’ve seen these guys in action (right there at Stay Gold in support of Alpha Wolf‘s tour for Fault!), so it was a pleasure to be reacquainted. The Mirrors set was a technical feast and a showcase of the band’s precise instrumentation. Vocalist Patrick Goodman delivered searing cries into the oblivion on tracks like “Circus”, where djenty breakdowns also went down a treat.

Coming across far more frantic and darkly atmospheric than the set before it, fast footwork by drummer Robert Brens was noticeable in “Can You Hear the Silence”, as was Tyson Taifer’s precision work on guitar. A bloodcurdling scream from Patrick was celebrated by diehard fans in the crowd, which seemed to kick off progressively more crowd engagement. Mirrors seemed to keep paving the way for full blown mosh fests with their breakneck pace, cavernous screams, and intricate guitar work. Whether people moshed or not was up to them!

The songs of their Cold Sanctuary EP got a lot of love through Mirrors’ set, including “Damien”. Lilting and drifting at times and ripping to the present at others, the song was so brilliantly raw sounding, with such a searching chorus and a haunting bridge. It’s a great song that was beautifully honoured in the live setting. “Cold Sanctuary” ended the set. Another stunning song with delicate backing that supports the undercurrent of tension before it all bursts out into the chorus. Again, the drumming and tight riffs were strong features. A solid set!

Having just released new single “Sugarcoated Psychosis”, I was pretty excited to get to see Deadlights in action. Coming at us with “Attitude and Longitude” first up, it struck me how relevant this song was, given the state of Australia with bushfires and disbelief about climate change from many (“I’d rather sit and breathe in the chimney air” / “It’s all talk without action. So capable of more”). Guitar squeals added nicely to the expected tight rhythms, fiery energy, and sweet harmonies.

Flowing into “The Mad Scientist”, it was quickly proving to be a great night for Deadlights. Frontman Dylan Davidson was on fire and full of energy, the band as a whole were toying with rhythms and nailing it, and guitarist/vocalist Tynan Reibelt sings like no one else really. It was easy to sing along and get into the set, enjoying the collective vibe of enthusiasm that was apparent in the band room. This band can do no wrong.  “Order Without Order” showcased madman Josh O’Callaghan behind the drums as well as had Dylan coming across bouncy and driven; the ringleader of this instrumental fire.

And they played “Sugarcoated Psychosis” for the first time live! I adored the daunting and threatening vibe of the song’s intro, and its guitar/bass sound that I’d happily describe as “zorby”. Dylan punched lines home and Tynan set sail into ridiculous peaks, embodying the balloon metaphor contained in the song. Both eerie and cool, the song was just as much of a treat live as recorded, through to its tense and dense ending.

In the aftermath of this, shifting into the more relaxed “Preconceptions”, and then “Invisible Hands”, I got to remembering a show at Wrangler Studios a couple years ago (was it for Alpha Wolf?) where a sparse crowd were taking in a Deadlights set. It was just me and one other diehard fan belting out the tunes at that time, so I felt pretty proud seeing so many people at Stay Gold getting enthusiastically behind this band. Especially when that enthusiasm turned into a circle pit and screaming along with the incredible singled “Bathed In Venom” in the fog of the bandroom. All hail Deadlights!

And of course there was still Thornhill to come on this great night of music! The hype was palpable, and a pulsing and spacey introduction welcomed the band to the stage. Starting at the logical place to start (“Views From The Sun”) set an immediately strong tone. There were some brief moments of off timing, but it was barely a blip in how well this was going down. [I learned after the show that the in-ears weren’t working and other fairly rough technical issues. They killed it nonetheless.]

Swept away by it all, the opener of The Dark Pool hit its peaks with ease, and flowed into the wild and huge “Nurture”. Considering how technically demanding these songs seem, Thornhill came across as at ease and bouncy and vocalist Jacob Charlton was impressively nailing it.

In amongst the dense fog, it reminded me of the all-consuming atmosphere of the album. And as much as I wanted to take note of everything that happened and every sense I experienced, I felt the same as when I reviewed The Dark Pool; I just wanted to immerse into the experience itself.

For whatever reason, hearing “In My Skin” was the first song of the set that had me feel like entering into a new side of Thornhill that I hadn’t seen live before. As well as the dense technicality, there was a dreaminess at the midway peak that kicked off an instrumental breakout that I’m not sure I have words for. Stunning and emotive, it all had me appreciate this song even more.

As if to counter the dreaminess, Jacob asked us all “How the fuck are you doing tonight?” before heading into punishing heaviness and searching vibe of “The Haze”‘s introduction. Warm and sweaty in the Stay Gold bandroom, the sweat was irrelevant to what was a thoroughly enjoyable and almost surreal experience hearing these gems live after playing the album repeatedly. Spotlights beamed through the fog, and a full and attentive crowd took it all in. I could barely see Ethan McCann in action over the other side of the stage, but I could see hands raised in the crowd to mirror Jacob, and bodies swaying to the easy sweetness of the bridge before bouncing to the return of a fiercer beat.

I was so happy to have “Red Summer” appear in the setlist of this show! Infectious rhythms and an addictive flow from end to end formed a kind of “pinch me” state of just taking it all in. The softened verses and their searching feel were the perfect lead-up to the full throttle ending. Perfection.

Keeping a good balance of dreaminess to grit, “Coven” had the whole room bouncing, as well as featured Matt Van Duppen’s signature spin. The groove and punch of this song along with its tight rhythms works so well.

“All The Light We Don’t See” then formed a bass and percussive treat, with everything gradually joining in with Nick Sjogren and Ben Maida’s efforts. Amping up nicely into fan favourite “Lily & The Moon”, it was all so hectic and incredible with loud voices joining in in this squishy band room.  “I’d climb all the way to where they left your soul just to bring you back” is one heck of a crushing and heart-wrenching way to lead into a breakdown, but it was a satisfying one, and the crowd surfers seemed to agree. The entire experience of this song live, with this crowd, and in this room was unreal.

Giving a delicious nod back to Butterfly for a moment, the bombarding and solid “Lavender” received the circle pit treatment and proved irresistible for stage divers and crowd surfers alike. Tapestry’s Tom Devine-Harrison added his voice to the feature before the frenzied song came to its end. For what could have been the hundredth time that night, I thought “Does it get any better than this?!”

But it continued to. Returning to The Dark Pool again, the turbulent, dense, and thoughtful “Human” seemed to embody itself: Hands outstretched from the crowd met Jacob’s hand for squeezes or fist bumps and it just seemed perfect given that the song refers to human connection. It wasn’t as sedate as it might sound though. I looked to the crowd at one point and saw feet pointed toward the ceiling and various limbs continually flailing throughout the song.

Megasong “Where We Go When We Die” could have me sum it up easily by saying “flawless” as opposed to going into specifics about the stunning instrumentation. Wild and connective, it couldn’t have sounded better, and saw Jacob being carried by the crowd. We are spoilt by how great this band is.

Ending with “Reptile” offered one last chance for people to get stuck into it. Fittingly wild and hectic, a stream of stage dives left the stage at the breakdown. And if you weren’t that way inclined, you could just take in the brilliance of the song and add your voice to Jacob’s. There was no encore, despite requests for just one more, and we all left sweaty and happy after witnessing such an incredible night of music.

[Photos courtesy of Liam Davidson]
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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