Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes live and finally unleashed Down Under. Where to start with this absolute uppercut of a show? Recollection doesn’t come all that easy when you’re trying (and mostly failing) to string together bits and pieces of memory-debris, whilst peering absentmindedly through the fog of a perpetual hangover. However, we here at Killyourstereo.com are professionals goddamnit, so we shall endeavour to recall this cracker of an evening in all its glorified and blurry detail. We arrive at The Brightside about an hour after doors open, and already the venue is heaving with alternative clientele and a slightly nervous atmosphere dominates. It’s been six years since Frank Carter took to the stage in our fair city (as the formidable then-frontman for Gallows during their 2010 Soundwave appearance), and it’s clear that everyone in attendance is eagerly awaiting his return. Despite the swampy heat, the venue is already half-full and buzzing with energy.
As we dive headfirst into one of many frothy beverages this evening, tonight’s openers She Cries Wolf warm things up with the fire crackling intro of ‘Churchblock’. Roaring into a frenzy of blitzkrieg guitar-attacks, punchy snare and fierce vocals, there’s a solid crowd spread across the pit, stairs, and side booths, all nodding their heads in an unspoken, but nonetheless united thought: that these Gold Coast/Brisbane boys are the perfect fit for a Rattlesnakes support bill, and just what we need to get the party started. Tracks like ‘Bedridden’ and ‘We’re All Arsonists’ keep the intensity ratcheted up, with a small but dedicated crew down front doing their best to open the pit, swing some limbs and get shit moving. Major credit is also due for vocalist Dylan Davidson (from fellow Brissy post-hardcore outfit Deadlights), who does a more-than-satisfactory job of filling in for regular vocalist Luke Harriss. Talking to the crowd, Davidson seems incredibly humbled tonight to share the stage with his good friends in She Cries Wolf, along with someone as revered as Frank Carter, and his stage presence helps to keep the band as focused and destructive as an amped-up wrecking ball.
Bassist Dom Harper and guitarist Kyal Franklin flail across the stage, swinging their axes like actual blades, while drummer Luke Gal hits the skins like they owe him money. Davidson’s screams and bellows mesh perfectly with the chaotic metalcore rhythms on display, feeding crowd involvement and gang vocal action for blistering cuts like ‘Suicide Letter’ and ‘Distorted Youth’ from the group’s fantastic second album, ‘Doubt’. When the band dust off fan favourite ‘Baal’, guitarist Daniel Belic leaps into the pit and starts working out some pent-up aggression, pushing smiling fans around with ease, all the while screaming lyrics into the ceiling and punching himself ceremoniously in the head. Slightly dazed, but nowhere near finished, Belic returns to the stage and She Cries Wolf close out their furious set with the anthemic ‘Chapter II’, which earns a rousing, sing-a-long send off from the crowd.
And right about here is where shit starts to get a little hazy… We leave all our belongings behind with friends, neck that last beer and venture down to the front of the waist-high stage. With tonight’s show selling out pretty much on the night, The Brightside is absolutely jam-packed, and there’s barely room to shoulder past punters without copping a gleam of unwanted sweat. Even the air-con is struggling to keep collected, with condensation dripping down the walls, adding to the already stifling atmosphere.
Suddenly the lights go dim, a chant for ‘RATT-LE-SNAKES!!!’ echoes through the venue and the English four-piece that is Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes finally emerge. From the moment Frank Carter walks on stage and grips the mic, The Brightside simply explodes. Bedlam. Mayhem. Havoc. Chaos. Whichever adjective you choose, the object of explanation is the same: pure fucking carnage.
Clad in a dark suit, with his trademark floral pattern undershirt, Carter stalks the stage like a predatory animal, fixing everyone in the room with a devilish grin, as the band launch into the introductory bursts of ‘Trouble’ and ‘Fangs’. Pulling heavily from their debut album ‘Blossom’, it’s pretty much one frantic blitz after another and we’re right amongst it all, jostling for space, screaming along and launching ourselves off the shoulders of the shorter and less fortunate to get a shot at the mic. During ‘Juggernaut’, the crowd hits a fever pitch, and if punters aren’t already trying to tear Carter apart, then they’re screaming and shouting in each other’s faces as a fitting substitute. Carter makes a habit of diving directly into the crowd, surfing across their outstretched hands with ease, and standing astride them at opportune moments, declaring at the song’s conclusion, “Don’t put me back on the fucking stage.”
Let it be said, that first and foremost, Carter is a man of the people.
Working through more melodic tracks off their soon-to-be-released second album ‘Modern Ruin’, the title track and single ‘Lullaby’ land well with the crowd, looking for a slight reprieve from the constant onslaught of shouts, sweat and stage dives. At one point, after surfing out across the sea of punters all the way to the side booths, Carter climbs the railing and stands on top of a thin bar, gazing into the faces off fans utterly gripped by his aura and spectacle. Flashing his devil’s grin once more, he looks back at his bandmates, before cheekily admitting that “I’m wearing fucking dancing shoes!” When he commands the crowd to form a giant circle pit, they oblige without question and soon The Brightside floor is turned into a maelstrom of revelry and punch-drunk euphoria.
Stopping mid-set for some banter, Carter thanks the Brisbane audience for being a part of the fanbase that helped The Rattlesnakes chart in Australia for ‘Blossom’ – the only country to do so outside the UK. Ever the showman, he gently chides them after by saying, “But we only got to 81 here, so you can fucking do better than that next time.” Dedicating a new song to his “beautiful baby girl,” Carter explains that he doesn’t want his daughter to grow up in a world where women don’t feel safe to stage dive. Given the recent press on this issue from Aussie acts like Camp Cope, High Tension and Luca Brasi, it seems that Carter is well and truly on board too, telling all the girls in the audience that ‘Wild Flowers’ is for them, and they can stage dive as much as they want without fear or objectification. And so for the next few minutes, it’s nothing but a cavalcade of jeans, skirts and handbags as girls launch themselves off the stage for a ready and willing crowd to catch them.
Bringing the energy back up, fan favourites ‘Devil Inside Me’ and ‘Primary Explosive’ go off like car-bombs, and from our position in the pit, we manage to see She Cries Wolf members Gal and Belic launch themselves like missiles into the crowd from side of stage. The cheeky dogs. When guitarist Dean Richardson’s jangly lead riff comes in for the vitriolic ‘Paradise’, we furiously climb to the top of the body pile, as Carter throws the mic out, and we fervently scream the verse along with two other eager fans, smashing the mic into each other’s teeth and smiling gleefully for the pleasure.
Closing with the glorious ode to seething hatred that is ‘I Hate You’, Carter explains that this track is about that one person “who’s been an absolute piece of shit since the day you met them,” before reminding us all “that you are definitely that person to someone else.” With our egos firmly in check, the crowd belts out the starting verse (“You are nothing/You are nothing to me/You’re a useless fucking cunt/You are nothing to me”) so loudly, that Carter just lets them take it away, casually remarking that “It sounds so good in Australian!” The song builds to a rowdy conclusion, as Carter usurps drummer Gareth Grover’s throne, smiling like a child as he tries to match the band and keep the song apace. And the crowd are having just as much fun, with a plethora of stage dives and stage invasions, as the snare drum is ripped out from under Carter and thrown towards the stage.
It’s around that point that all hell breaks loose, and we quickly make the step up over the stage monitors and leap into a short-lived, but no less exhilarating stage dive. Many elbows and shoes to the face later, we’re standing on the floor amongst other half-dazed punters, as The Rattlesnakes draw their set to a close. There’s no doubting that Frank Carter is a natural, consummate performer, and tonight’s show with The Rattlesnakes only further solidifies his position as the leading face of British punk rock and a 21st century Sid Vicious.
Let’s just hope we don’t have to wait another six years for Carter and his cohorts to come back and kick us in the face once more.