Live Review: A Day To Remember – 14/12/16 – Festival Hall, Melbourne


Opening tonight’s affairs in the weather worn shed that is Melbourne’s Festival Hall was Australian rock outfit and proverbial disappointments Tonight Alive. By that latter description, you can probably guess that I’m not a fan. Well, that’s a lie. I still hold the belief that ‘What Are You So Scared Of?‘, the band’s debut record, is a fantastic pop-punk record and I have very fond memories of the band from that era. But everything since that album has been nothing but lacklustre and dull to a truly exponential degree with their latest offering, ‘Limitless‘, perhaps being one of the worst albums I have ever heard in my life. I know that Alex will back me up on this

Now, this is going to be the biggest contradiction of my journalistic career (HAHAHAHA) but never before have I seen an opening band sound as fucking good and as tight as Tonight Alive did… and never have I also been so goddamn bored watching a band play live! The mix for their set was phenomenal and the band’s musicianship was indeed solid but every song was just a pure carbon copy of the one before it, filled with the same power chord riffs, root note bass lines (save a few quality licks here and there) and snooze enduring “whoah-oh” sing-alongs. It’s kind of hard to explain but there was no real substance or any depth to anything that was performed on that stage during their set, and I watched on feeling nothing about a band I once used to care so much for. I was an empty shell devoid of life, meaning and emotion that could do nothing but gaze upon the paint drying fest that unfolded before me. It was generic rock music that would offend even the most average of pebbles, but others seemed to enjoy it, so…good for them?

Sigh.

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We’d pull that face too if we had released an album like ‘Limitless’/PC: Digital Beard Photography.

My other huge gripe with their set was the band’s rendition of their newer material of which is just terrible, terrible pop music that even the Janoskians would turn their noses up at. The band opted out of playing these songs in their synth-heavy origins and instead performed them as if they were bonafide rock songs. Which had me shaking my head, saying “What is the fucking point of trying to break new ground as a band for your sound if you’re only going to turn these tracks into the same shit you’ve been doing for years the moment you get up on stage?” Not even this variant of these newer songs could save their set from being nothing short of woeful mediocrity.

But hey, this band’s been touring for half my life now and they get to play to a few thousand people every night, so what does some guy from regional Victoria’s opinion matter? You can answer that one yourself.

Kiss him, you fool!/PC: Owen Jones

Kiss him, you fool!/PC: Digital Beard Photography.

Following in Tonight Alive’s lame and limping stride were the fusion-genre upstarts, Issues, all the way from the US of A. Their set was a complete switch to what I felt during Tonight Alive’s performance, but sadly, wasn’t as good as I’d hoped. See, the band’s live mix was just simply dreadful. It was muddy like it had just hailed from the heavens and filthier still, most of the vocals remained inaudible and the guitar riffs were buried beneath a wall of frequencies. Not to mention the mic levels were at a dead zero for clean vocalist Tyler Carter upon first arriving on stage, which absolutely killed any and all impact and energy for their first few songs. Seriously, the buzz felt completely stilted and the massive crowd just felt unsure. Sure, those early issues (ha) may not have been the band’s fault, but it impacted their set greatly. 

However, from the moment Carter took off his windbreaker, the quintet started up ‘Never Lose Your Flame‘ was the time we all realised we better suck up this low-quality sound and just have a blast with some actually quality music (looking right at you, Tonight Alive). The crowd instantly sprung to life in an array of chants, mosh pits and bounces as Issues broke through their uneasy beginnings into tracks like ‘Mad at Myself‘ and ‘The Realest‘ which went down an absolute treat as both band and audience pulled their socks up and gave it our all.

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Tyler Carter of Issues, with some snazzy looking in-ears/PC: Digital Beard Photography.

The lead single from ‘Headspace‘, the soaring anthem of ‘Coma‘ found itself to be the track that stayed with me the most with its huge and deliriously catchy chorus still managing to sound monolithic even through the rough sound quality coming through the PA. Their set closer of ‘Hooligans‘ pretty much ignited a fuse inside all of us punters as we got to work in sending the band off in fine fashion into the night with even more mosh pits, sing-alongs and energy than any of us had had before. Despite a very rocky start, Issues ended their set in fine form (which is exactly how it should have started). 

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Front and centre punters watching Issues/PC: Digital Beard Photography.

I’ll prelude this final part by saying that I didn’t really like ‘Bad Vibrations‘ (insert “wow, Matty did you like anything this year!?” comments). I thought it was by far the weakest thing A Day To Remeber had ever put out and I enjoyed maybe two songs from it on a good day (‘Justified‘ and ‘We Got This‘). But I still have a huge hard on/soft spot for A Day To Remember and maybe that’s because of nostalgia or maybe it’s the fact that they were consistently a brilliant band for the better part of a decade. Regardless, I would be lying through my teeth if I told you I wasn’t balls to the wall excited to see some of the bands older and more prolific tracks. This was my fourth or so dalliance with the boys in ADTR and I gotta say that it was one of our best nights together!

Kicking things off with ‘Mr Highways Thinking About The End‘, the band wasted no time whatsoever getting right into the meat of their catalogue by following it up with ‘Paranoia‘ and ‘2nd Sucks‘. The former’s infamous pit call of “Disrespect your surroundings” went off like a bomb in the middle of Melbourne, summoning forth every mosh move ever conceived in the darkness of the MySpace era. As cringy as it was to see guys in their thirties busting out the windmill across the pit, I couldn’t help but feel their love and joy wash over me as I saw the smiles that stretched out across their faces.

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A Day To Remember’s Neil Westfall/PC: Digital Beard Photography.

Opening up with some of their heaviest and most intense material was a bold move but this band has been touring long enough to know when they really need to switch up. Before long, ‘Right Back At It Again‘ made its appearance and summoned a legion of voices that pretty much endeared Jeremy McKinnon’s job as vocalist obsolete. Seriously, there’s nothing quite like those moments where a few thousand people are all in sync with one another and just rocking the fuck out to a pop-punk banger. Soon after, they launched into the bouncy and sing-a-long anthem of ‘It’s Complicated‘. This song reminded me once again that just as much as they can write a breakdown, ADTR can sure as hell write a chorus and have it stick with you for years. Just like genital sores without all the emotional and sexual baggage; those lyrics and that song’s hook are always with you whether you like it or not.

Without a doubt, the quintets skills best reside in those massive anthems that this band pumps out like a goddamn workhorse. These songs are made for the live setting. They’re made to be heard in rooms crammed to the brim with sweaty, adoring fans ready to pour their hearts out in this fleeting moment of compassion. ‘Homesick‘, ‘All Signs Point To Lauderdale‘ and ‘NJ Legion Iced Tea‘ still hit harder than ever even after the fifth time I’ve heard them live. They’re huge in scope and monolithic in depth and this shines best live. Even the ‘Justified‘ and ‘We Got a This‘ went down beautifully, and as the only two songs that I actually enjoyed on the new record, it was great to see them realised in their full potential here.

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I got my eye on you, boy/PC: Digital Beard Photography.

However, where the band lacks in my humble and somewhat questionable opinion is in the heavier songs. I honestly think the band cashed their chips in too early, throwing ‘Mr Highway…‘ and “2nd Sucks‘ ‘I’m Made of Wax Larry…‘ right at the beginning of their set. This left songs like ‘Bad Vibrations‘ and ‘Exposed‘ to be the mid set heavy weights and for me, those are just far too below the quality that this band can normally pull out. Those songs on both the record and stage feel more like bad A Day To Remember rip offs than the real McCoy, what with their lacklustre sound and performance.

But my favourite part of this night was without a shadow of a doubt the reminder it gave me of how great gigging with friends is. I had an absolutely amazing night listening to a brilliantly tight and professional band whilst being an absolute idiot with my friends. Whether we were dabbing to breakdowns, causing havoc by slow dancing in the middle of a wall of death or doing some otherwise homoerotic actions with one another for a few laughs and side eyes; there’s nothing like spending time with people you care about and just having some good old-fashioned fun. It’s been a while since I’ve felt that a gig. So thank you, A Day To Remember. You’re music may have let me down this year but your live show sure as hell didn’t!

Until our next affair together, my Floridian friends, may all your sets be as grand as this one was!

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A Day To Remember’s Joshua Woodward. Good vibes for days/PC: Digital Beard Photography


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