If you take a glance at Album Of The Year lists from 2018, either Basement‘s Beside Myself or The Story So Far‘s Proper Dose would feature on most [you can take a look at ours here!]. Two great albums and two great bands. We had the absolute pleasure to take in both as they shared their tunes live at 170 Russell in Melbourne on Tuesday.
Melbourne hardcore act Born Free had the job of opening the night. Almost instantly a mosh sprung up in response to the pummeling relentlessness of the drums. Though I’m not familiar with the band personally, it was easy to appreciate their set courtesy of their high energy; in particular the jumping, punching, pitcalling vocalist. “SIDE TO FUCKING SIDE!”
Born Free set us up easily to fall into their sick grooves and syllabic fire, or take in wild guitar solos within a drum-centred wilderness. It seemed the band had two gears; easy and relaxed, or high speed ridiculousness. Instrumentally strong, my focus was spent mostly upon the guitars, as the vocal style didn’t do much for me personally. Regardless, there were wild scenes of moshing toward the end of the set, showing a strong appreciation for the band.
Launching straight into “Pray I Fade”, Endless Heights took to the stage and vocalist Joel Martorana beckoned the crowd forward to be part of set with them. The Sydney band are great live, and it was a treat to get to see them again so soon after the Hands Like Houses show. Owning the stage, every member of Endless Heights was into it, sharing dreamy melodic guitar tones and searching vocals; hitting sweet peaks and searing heights.
A great combination of beauty and chaos, Endless Heights shared slices from their Vicious Pleasure album. “Run” was a perfect example of this; unafraid to be still in slow building moments, before blowing out into wildness. Hearing their version of “Head Over Heels” (recently released on the Sea Shepherd Benefit, Vol. 3 compilation) was an awesome surprise, and based on the big smiles on guitarist Jem Siow’s face, it was just as great for the band. Bass was noticeably awesome on this track.
Though they tried hard to amp up the crowd, I got the feeling many were saving their energy for the two bands to come. It was still a stellar set presented by passionate musicians, and a treat to see them get lost in their music, punctuated by guitar squeals or blanketed by more atmospheric moments while a story is carefully enunciated. Endless Heights forever!
“Hi, we’re Basement from England!” vocalist Andrew Fisher called out, before jumping straight into “Disconnect”. As my first time seeing the band, I immediately appreciated how their live performance was vibing, as was the full crowd who were showing their appreciation with crowd surfing and bouncing along. They were also lending their voices to songs like “Aquasun”, and I witnessed around me equal combinations of passionate finger-pointed shouts or people with their eyes closed getting lost in the moment.
“I fuckin’ love you!” Andrew called out, before an infectious pace was set by “Nothing Left”. The entire scene was just a good time with friends, celebrating music. Bouncing through their set, the crowd were clearly making the most of every second of this, joining in on every word and soaking up every riff. At some points, the crowd were almost louder than the band. That’s a lot of love.
Clearly having fun on stage, energy was kept high throughout Basement’s set. Even when there was a gear shift for slower and more sedate songs, it still felt engaging and a pleasure to be present with. Great harmonies flooded out over the crowd from the blue fog of the stage, and we in the crowd were attentive as well as chilled.
In a break between songs, Andrew shared his appreciation for Endless Heights who had looked after the band when they’d toured seven years ago. As if to reciprocate the love, Jem Siow jumped onto a mic for a vocal feature on “Crickets Throw Their Voice”. Good vibes were carried throughout the band’s set, and their songs felt easy to get stuck into. It was clearly a good time for everyone present.
Though I love Proper Dose, I was coming into The Story So Far’s set with absolutely zero expectations of what their live show might be like. The crowd waiting for the Californian band to begin seemed like the fullest I’d ever seen 170 Russell! Strutting out onto the stage, there was an instant request for engagement with set opener “Empty Space”. Happily obliging, the crowd sung before vocalist Parker Cannon had even uttered a word. The Story So Far had arrived and felt strong and present on stage.
Smiling and happy, Parker asked “How’s everybody doing? Good evening!” before heading straight into “Out Of It”. I suspect some attendees to this show would have ended up losing their voices momentarily, because much like the Basement set, there was so much LOUD singing along with the band.
Though Parker doesn’t physically move much on stage (spending most of the set standing at the microphone with hands in his pockets), watching him belt out the vocally-hectic songs seemed demanding enough for him to keep up with. The crowd happily danced, crowd surfed, and bounced plenty on his behalf though, soaking up the great guitar tone and energy from the band.
When “Roam” was played, the big bouncing pit came across as one entity with hands up and fingers pointing, singing “FAR AWAY FROM THE CITY!”. It felt as if the crowd were part of the story being told musically and physically, with a whole lot of determination for their voices to be heard on this special occasion with their band. (Side note: Around this point of the set, I spotted Trophy Eyes‘ John Floreani having a crowd surf.)
“If I Fall” is an example of what seems like a vocally intense song, with barely a moment to take a breath. I’ve no idea how he does it. The track came across great in the flesh, especially the bridge and it’s sweet dreaminess. And speaking about vocally intense, for some reason I didn’t realise that the last three heavenly notes of “Proper Dose” are sung, but holy shit they are and they were. Amazing.
Parker opened up about the creation of Proper Dose, and how it “almost didn’t fucking happen” and how he’s happy to be alive. He thanked the crowd for supporting the band, and growing up with it. He also shared appreciation for Basement and Endless Heights for joining them on tour.
Seeing songs like “Solo” and “The Glass”, played, it was made very clear how much of an emotional outlet music is for Parker (and no doubt the entirety of the band), and the songs are delivered as such; genuine and open sharing that comes across as meaningful and powerful.
The swaying singfest was beautiful and warm through to its end, including the sweetness of “Take Me As You Please”. It all had a feeling like ‘may this never end!’ from the crowd perspective. A definite night to remember.