The one thing that absolutely everyone told me that I needed to bring, the one thing no one would shut up about before Unify, the one thing that I made sure I had a few hundreds of, ended up being the one thing that was not needed in anyway shape or form as rain greeted the seven-thousand strong horde of punters this weekend; rendering any need to rid yourself of dust with baby wipes pointless.
As I entered the Tarwin Meadows footy grounds, I look out at the scene that sprawls before me as tents, marquees and the like are erected for a few hundred metres either way. It looks like a scene from Lord of The Rings as a few thousand men and woman all prepare for battle. I half expected to see Viggo Mortensen cry “The beacons are lit! Gondor calls for aid!” but alas, there is a proficient lack of elves or dwarves to be found in Gippsland. Though there are wizards to be found here. Though their wizard staffs are made from duct taped beer cans, they’ve been able to smash down consecutively. I guess that counts for something. On the way to find a good place to set up base for the next two days, a man walks past me screaming something about Parkway Drive and “real heavy metal” in the octaves of somewhere between C1 and C0 or lower, making him inaudible. He holds with him a wizard staff that stands a full foot above his own head, nearing Goliath status.
It is 12:37 pm, Friday.
It is Unify 2017.
I set up my tent after a gruelling ordeal facing off against the wind that sought to stop me from ever setting up shelter. The lady next to me offered to put down her goon and help me out. But I’m a man. I lace my tents with the tears of women kind and people who don’t share my narrow worldview. I do things by myself and without instructions [end sarcasm]. This lady looked somewhat glad that she got to spend more time with her goon than with a Jack Black lookalike writer struggling to pitch a two-man tent. This is a preface to the vibe of Unify. For the most part, everyone is lovely and willing to help out their fellow punter but by God almighty would they prefer to be crushing tinnies and squeezing the life out of a goon bag. But anyway, I set off eventually to the Arena section in search of the “heavy music” this gathering has promised to give me. I find it in the form of Gippsland locals, Ocean Sleeper, though, I would be lying if I’d said it wasn’t the grandest way to kick things off.
For one, thanks to Mother Nature taking a right old piss down on us, there was some serious issues with the power to the stage cutting back and forth which served as strong interruptions to their set. Though eventually they got playing and were able to get through something resembling a song. And look, it wasn’t dreadful but by God does this band need to really work on their songwriting. It’s metalcore that’s about as unimaginative as Microsoft coming out with the Zune following the iPod’s release. Been there, done that and better. But Ocean Sleeper is a local Gippsland band which is nice and all to see them getting a slot like this, but they still have a long ways to grow and develop before they can become, well, good.
Next up is Justice for The Damned and I’ll be…damned (fucking end me, please) if I wasn’t impressed by their set. Similar to Ocean Sleeper, it was a very tired and true genre at play here in the form of abrasive, aggressive metal but these guys know what makes a song tick. They know how to set up their structure and what to do elicit the best responses from the audience and it really, really shows live from the response they got. Because contrast is a flavour that often works, succeeding the Damned Boys (corny, maybe, but I’m sticking with it) was Brisbane three-piece sad-punk outfit, Columbus. With a somewhat recent full-length release to back them up, the band were able to keep things moving after the previous crushing set with their blend of catchy hooks about sad shit over melodic and massive pop-punk instrumentals. With just three guys on stage, they were able to fill the open air setting more than enough to keep the energy and good vibes pounding along.
Similarly to the Damned Boys, Polaris proved that you can indeed breathe new life and air into dead sounds with straight up good songwriting and great performances. Though nothing new on the spectrum of metal, they’re tight performers with great presence and even better riffs to boot, and that sure as hell made them a worthy twenty-minute experience.
Unfortunately, tragedy struck when I had to go and make sure my tent was still upright and alive after hearing about others who sadly had to go lay rest to their marquees after a series gale force wind came rustling through Unify. Thankfully, my little blue abode survived and all was well in the world. Well, except for a few people around me who’s shit was legit EVERYWHERE. I aided in the rescue mission of tent pegs and tent flies that were literally flying away. This, however, left me with only a song and half worth of King Parrot’s set to catch, and boy oh boy, was that enough to make me feel an existential dread coming on as the walls of sound flowed over me. They are not a bad band at all (if worthy of high meme potential) but extreme metal just really is not my cup of English breakfast. It’s far too… “much” for me. Yeah I know, I’m a fucking coward or whatever but hey, if you’re into that thing then King Parrot would have made your jimmies more rustled than ever.
I guess you could say that tragedy found me (bad album puns should be a death sentence) once again as Canada’s melodic hardcore heroes, Counterparts, following ol’ Parrot to set the stage for how the rest of the night’s proceedings would go. A hectic mess of tired lungs and flying bodies. It was like a goddamn bomb went off the moment this band played a single note as a lone boy with dreads hurtled over the top of me, clearing the barricade and front row of people. I turn around to the battlefield of flailing arms and contorting bodies. What could I more or less do than jump into the fray and join in on the chaos. Shouting out the words to ‘Compass’ and ‘The Disconnect’ as I was elbowed in the ribs and squashed into the dirt by drug-addled men old enough to be my father was an experience and a half I’ll tell you what. The other thing that really set me on edge was seeing their vocalist, Brendan Murphy, sporting a cap from The 1975. Seeing Murphy got the same taste in music as me warmed my heart in this cold and desolate world that was slowly turning into a fucking mud pit.
Colliding onto the stage with the jubilance that only they could muster, Ocean Grove whipped out a set a seasoned and hardboiled band would be proud of. I’m not hugely into these guys off stage but on it, they really got to me. Even the songs I was starkly unfamiliar with infected me with movement and energy that was aided by the band’s great stage presence that oozes with confidence and pride in their work. But hands down, the set taker was their new track ‘Intimate Alien’. All I’ll say is what a fucking bop that song was live, holy shit.
It was good to see House Vs Hurricane pick up their instruments again and get back to playing. I’ve got fond memories of these guys and their Unify set did nothing to tarnish to it. Playing some of their classic bangers up on a huge stage gave me a warm feeling of nostalgia and an eager feeling to see where they go next.
Following in suit of the HVH were the one and only The Getaway Plan, who performed their most acclaimed record, ‘Other Voices, Other Rooms’ in full. This was another fine nostalgia trip. Bursting in full bloom into our ears with ‘Streelight’ the band delivered a relentless set that was filled with energy and passion for such a prolific and important Australian rock album. Noticeably, they left ‘Where The City Meets the Sea’ out of its unoriginal slot on the record and shuffled it into the penultimate song of the set, for dramatic effect one would presume. Now, that was an incredible and mesmerising experience to see that song played by the band themselves instead of just a PA system at a shitty house party in north Bendigo. But for me, I simply loved the fact I finally got to see ‘Shadows’ live. Holy hell, that was massive and beautiful and wonderful and everything I wanted it to be. My personal favourite Getaway Plan song had finally come to life right before my eyes and it was spectacular. The band seemed to have some mixing issues when things started off with the guitars just simply being far too low in the mix but this seemed to fix itself as things went along and front man Matthew Wright joined in for some good ol’ rhythm guitar.
A question one should always ask themselves before seeing Letlive. is: “What crazy shit is Jason Butler going to get up to this time?” It’s a staple of the band’s image and live set. Their craziness and intensity is what aligns them with bands such as The Chariot (RIP) and The Dillinger Escape plan (double RIP) and is what makes them really stand out from the crowd. For us, there were two events that were classic Jason moments. One of them was during their opener of ‘Renegade ‘86’ where Butler climbed into a wheelie bin that had made its way into the crowd. This was all thanks to my mate, Jake Robertson (AKA Vaginagoat) who just loves throwing bins into the crowd. This Jason-in-a-bin moment was short-lived but like any beautiful supernova, the wonder is short but brilliant. Our next “Oh, Jason!” moment came when he suddenly found himself scaling the side of the stage to get a far better look of the venue and look down upon us peasants.
All the while still fucking singing! What a bloke.
Letlive. are relentless in their stage show yet still somehow sound tight and proficient one-hundred percent of the time. ‘Younger’ and ‘Banshee’ came through the PA crystal clear and loud as all fuck whilst the heart-wrenching ballad of ‘Muther’ sounded out across the Gippsland wastes in all its glorious splendour.
As if one chaotic hardcore band wasn’t enough, Unify got it’s second helping of crazy as five New Yorkers mozied onto the stage now covered in the darkness of night. Every Time I Die wasted no time and launched right into their set with an unyielding ferocity and insanity that only they could bring. Playing a mix of tracks from their latest and hottest offering ‘Low Teens’ as well as older works like ‘We’rewolf’ and ‘Floater’ making an appearance, we loved every single second of it. The reception rose to new heights however when the beautiful riff of ‘It Remembers’ flooded the arena. If hardcore was religion, then this was a congregation and ‘It Remembers’ was our motherfucking hymn. Lungs and throats went red as we chanted in a cacophonous harmony with the band to this outright barnburner of a track. It almost couldn’t get any better.
And then they played ‘Moor’.
It was a beautiful sight to behold. There stood Keith Buckley, silhouetted by a strong red light alone on stage as the beginnings of the dark and ominous ballad sounded out. He sang shakily and honestly into the mic as we the crowd sang back, adorned in the blood-soaked lights streaming down from above. Then, as the song hit its middle point, all hell broke loose. See, if Counterparts was a bomb, then this right here was nuclear warfare. I and everyone else lost all inhibitions and care and sent our bodies flying in the path of most resistance, looking for hurt and pain and adrenaline wherever we could get it. The band officially closed this hardcore congregation with ‘Map Change’ and boy oh boy, was it a fine closer that left me sore the next morning!
As the band receded from the stage, I too made my way back up the arena slope and perched myself upon a table with a box of wedges and calamari and watched Northlane take the stage.
If you have ever met me in real life, you might know that I take any and every chance I can to riff on this band hard. It is one of my personal hobbies to hang shit on Northlane every time they come up in conversation. But I’m no idiot. I knew full well going in here that even though I don’t like nearly any song by this band, I would be impressed by them. See, you don’t get to headlining a festival without knowing what you’re somewhat doing. And this and knows exactly what they’re doing down to a tee. Opening up with ‘Dispossession’ and ‘Transcending Dimensions’, two of their much older and frankly better songs before Marcus Bridge was helming vocals, made for a fine treat for even the doubters like me.
These songs harken back to a time where the band were simply touring the country in support slots of much bigger and seasoned bands such as August Burns Red or Parkway Drive. So in some ways, it felt fitting to open tonight proceedings with a trip down memory lane to show and remind people just how far they’ve come to be a goddamn festival headliner.
Following in short pursuit were ‘Dream Awake’ and ‘Obelisk’ from the band’s second and third albums respectively. It’s a slow build into the present day catalogue of ‘Leech’ and ‘Rot’ being jammed side by side in the set. The crowd eat up every single second of this. They throw their bodies around, point their fingers and scream the words with everything they’ve got.
Northlane “ended” their with ‘Weightless’ before coming back out moments later for an encore that consists of a band’s new song called ‘Intuition’. To me this new song represents hope, hope that this band are now truly coming into their own as songwriters and working as a cohesive unit with Bridge. It just seems so much tighter and self-aware, knowing where exactly to go and what to do to keep the song ebbing and flowing in the best way possible. It actually makes me excited for the future of this band. Wow. I never thought that day would come.
They of course wrapped everything up with ‘Quantum Flux’ which, although it has a very pretty beginning, I personally find a bit pretentious and on-the-nose of a song but the crowd goes absolutely batshit for it and I can’t help but smile at the thought of how much love this band is feeling right now. My favourite thing about Northlane’s set was the light and visual show. Holy shit that was incredible. The visuals were so well timed and suited to their songs that it really made the whole set “pop” on a whole new level. This band knows their aesthetic very, very well and it clearly pays off. Even if I do think their utter pants.
I was surprised to see the amount of people who shuffled away to their tents as quickly as they did as I had, of course, heard stories of the never ending party that is Unify. But the rain and grey weather had obviously taken its toll. I knew I it had on me and I fucked right off to my little corner of the world and went to bed. Save a few stray voices and “whoop, whoops”, the night seemed to be slowly drifting off into silence.
And with that, day one of Unify was officially done.
I started my day off with a can of spaghetti for breakfast. It was cold and slimy but it was 50c from Woolies so I’m not sure what I was expecting. It was going great… until the point where my plastic fork broke. I had only packed one. I had made a poor error in judgement and was left with no utensils but my fingers to get my full 50c worth. I think that’s all the imagery you need.
Utterly disgusted with myself, I wandered over to the arena in slightly hungry shame to see the Triple J Unearthed winners, Pagan open up the day’s proceedings. AND FUCK WAS IT GOOD!
Seriously, this band goes hard. The band sounded phenomenally tight and well out together which makes their brutal gothic-tinged hardcore sound even more daunting and unyielding. I will now officially be sweating this band. Hard! Sadly, Bare Bones failed to impress me as much. I found their punk-rock, hard-rock vibe far too stale and uninspired to really be able to sink my teeth into it. It didn’t have any of the life and energy to it that I just experienced with Pagan. Drown This City are a band that really intrigue and impress me. They manage to have a huge sound that also at times is unique and their own. It’s not overbearing but there’s something about the nuances of the tracks that really help set this band apart and they really proved it here at Unify. They’re energetic and lively which only adds to the enjoyment you can get from their brand of stadium hard-rock (that a thing?).
Then I had PSTD flashbacks from my time seeing Falling In Reverse in 2016 because fuck me, The Brave were once again on after Drown This City again. I’m sorry to everyone who loves The Brave and sweats them but they suffer from the same fate as Ocean Sleeper does by just having absolutely nothing to say with their music. There’s no life or soul to be found when they play live, the insistent calls for people to move, mosh and come forward and shit just got old fast. I sit down for their set and watch the minutes idly tick by, almost toying with the idea that I should go grab my book from the tent to help pass the time. But I push through, giving them my attention in full and undivided. You’re probably half expecting me to use the “but they’re probably nice guys” line but that line is so full of shit. If my mechanic doesn’t fix my car, which is his fucking job, I don’t keep going back to him or recommend him to others because he’s polite. The Brave are musicians and in the entertainment industry yet they have failed on that front to entertain me.
Also similar to Bare Bones, The Dirty Nil sadly didn’t do it for me. This type of hard-rock music that focuses more on aesthetic than musical quality or concepts rubs me a little bit the wrong way. There’s a lot of distortion and drive to the tones and a lot of edginess and punk-like energy to their music, but that life and that soul I was talking about with The Brave once again just was not there for me.
Saviour were the follow up for The Dirty Nil and they put on a really solid show. That’s essentially the beginning and end of my discussion of them. It was a good show, and I didn’t feel completely empty and devoid of all emotion watching it but I didn’t audibly go “Holy shit” like I did for Pagan’s set. They played really well and the half good interaction with the crowd. The band’s sound has evolved and developed into a really well-defined brand of melodic hardcore. It’s good to see these guys back at again and doing well for themselves. Their set made me keen to see what this new album, ‘Let Me leave’ holds in store for them.
Following Saviour were the one and only Deez Nuts. Making one hell of an entry with ‘Shot After Shot’ that got the whole crowd jumping and singing, they played one monster of a set that included some huge classics such as ‘Like There’s No Tomorrow’ and ‘Your Mother Should’ve Swallowed You’ along with a new song called ‘Binge And Purgatory’ from the forthcoming album of the same name. It sounded like a classic Deez Nuts song rife with crazy good riffs, vibes and groove that make you wanna do nothing but punch something. But the set’s closer of ‘Band of Brothers’ elicited an amazing singalong and even a guest appearance from Ahren Stringer of The Amity Affliction. It was one hell of a way to end one hell of a set that reminded me what I love about that band so much: their ability to craft great songs that serve no purpose but to make you feel good.
Moose Blood is a band that I adore with all of my eighteen-year-old heart. They too craft amazing songs that make you feel so pleasant and warm on the inside, all thanks to their smooth melody lines and simple yet poignant lyrics. They’re also incredibly tight and well-tuned live. Their use of dynamics to make the songs absolutely hit you hard when they need to is always appreciated, especially on the certified banger of a banger that is ‘Honey’ who’s chorus is just to die for. ‘Swim Down’ is a song that is so simply beautiful and brilliant I will mourn the day it leaves this band’s set. But for now, I got to enjoy screaming the two opening words of “She said” with a few thousand strong crowd who for the most part seemed to be having just much as fun as I was. However, the set ender of ‘Knuckles’ was one that had me unsure if it could do the job well enough, yet as their headlining Melbourne show on Thursday and their Unify set proved, that song fits right in as a final goodbye to the crowd. It’s big, loud and beautiful like this band’s existence.
Trophy Eyes are a band that I have never fully been able to get into. They just never really seemed to “click” for me but I was hoping that their Unify slot would change that. Sadly, it only really solidified it for me as them being an underwhelming band. See, they should not be playing festivals this size. Trophy Eyes are a band that you need to be able to feel in every bone of your body to really “get it”. Yet here in the open air, any sense of urgency or presence gets lost and dissipates the second it leaves the PA. There’s too much room here for their emotion to truly be felt, which is what I was hoping I could feel today. But alas, the band just felt far too sloppy and all-over-the-place to really make a mark in this setting. Had it been a club the story might have gone differently but for now, I’m still not fully sold on Trophy Eyes.
Luca Brasi are also a band that I’ve wanted to like for so long now but I just can’t ever seem to. When they write good songs, they write amazing songs but the ones I don’t like make me want to gauge my eyes out with a fork… if I still had one at least. I know they’ve got it in them to make me love their very existence and likewise to Trophy Eyes, wanted this set to sell me but it left me feeling the same lack of emotion and the need to lose my eyesight at the end of an eating utensil. Maybe next album they’ll make me want to write dirty fan fiction on Watt Pad about them but until then, I’ll just have to go blind. Wow. That was a little extreme, wasn’t it?
Storm the Sky are fucking great. I mean, yes Will Jarret looked on this particular day like he was about to ask a bunch of misguided folks to drink some Kool-Aid what with his vintage parted hair and clothing and all. But apart from that they absolutely fucking killed it once again, making it known that the old Storm The Sky of metalcore riffs and clean choruses is dead and gone; and here stands a new and risen band that is soaked in reverb and chorus and a fantastic aesthetic that is so cohesively created to fit every fabric of the band it’s a thing of beauty. They sound absolutely monolithic in their musical depth on the stage and you’ve got to give props to the tones that are coming out of Andy Szetho’s guitar. Holy shit, that guy works the pedal board like it’s nobody’s business!
Yet, there was one thing that pissed me off to no end during Storm the Sky’s set but I’m gonna leave that until the end of this write-up as it falls in with my main issue of this whole festival. But as I said, we’ll get to that later on.
Bodyjar were an odd but welcome replacement for I Killed The Prom Queen’s departure from the festival’s line-up. They played ferociously and viscously their style of Aussie Punk that is so unabashedly fun and joyous there was a smile planted across everyone’s face. The crowd of older, more adult punters were having the time of their life yet when it came time to pack things in with ‘You’re Not The Same’, everyone was having the time of their life. What a true Australian anthem, and if you never played Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3, you missed out.
Now you’re probably thinking how fucking great it is that CJ McMahon is now back in Thy Art Is Murder. And you’re right. It is very cool and very neato burrito to see that in the moment. He’s a staple in that band’s image and presence and is part of the reason they’ve been able to catapult to such a high status in Australian metal. But honestly, if you didn’t see this coming from a mile away you’re as blind as I am after listening to Luca Brasi. The fact the band never settled down on a new vocalist, only opting to bring on their mates to do CJ’s dirty work whilst the fact CJ also was more than comfortable chilling side of stage throughout the day at Unify in plain site for everyone to see; iconic windbreaker and all.
In saying that, it was very cool to see the hooded figure walk out before the crowd and unveil himself to the world as a recrowned king of Australian Deathcore. It just sucks that their set sounded like wet mud getting shit out of the speakers. This, in my eyes, is no one’s fault. It’s a combination of a band that plays with two dynamics: fast and heavy, and near-absolute silence when the pit call sounds off. They’re also all playing at such a low tuning that the frequencies are battling each other for top spot in your ear that they end up just merging into one big pile of sound barrelling towards your ears. Until it all stopped for the aforementioned mosh calls, at which point the crowd sounded like a cult chanting away into the night. All in all, it was a very cool moment that sadly just couldn’t be backed up with a solid performance. And believe me, I fucking love this band. Like. I really, really fucking love this band. I just wish such a milestone had been under better sonic circumstances.
Oh, and as for the now famous bible incident, I didn’t really get to see it happen as I was chilling up the back, stretching for Violent SoHo but if the rumours are true then yeah, I guess we can confirm that CJ is, in fact, the devil and only left Thy Art Is Murder during the Christmas period lest he be sent back into the fiery pits of hell to reign over the eternal pain and suffering of sinners.
Violent Soho was a band that honestly surprised me live. I’ve never been overly ecstatic about their recorded material as don’t think that their aesthetic fits well within the clean studio feel some of the mixing gives their tracks. Yet I found out that in the live setting, this is where Violent Soho really shine.
Their choruses were huge and soared high above the tree lines whilst their riffs felt powerful and ferocious out of the PAs. ‘Like Soda’ went down an absolute treat as the crowd screamed back the chorus in unison with vocalist Luke Boerdam whilst the classic ‘Covered in Chrome’ sent the crowd into a frenzy. The band sounded great and so on point with one another that the fact they’ve been going at the music game for over twelve years makes perfect sense. They know exactly how to put on a show and captivate an audience, doubters and all.
Last and certainly not least came Alexisonfire. The Canadian five-piece came out to a roar from the crowd and jettisoned into ‘Young Cardinals’. The crowd was eating out of the palm of their hands during tracks like ‘This Could Be Anywhere In The World’ and ‘Crisis’. It was with no shadow of a doubt that these guys were THE headliners through and through.
I don’t really listen to Alexisonfire nor like them that much, so I admit I was relatively in the dark for most of the set but found myself really loving ‘Pulmonary Archery’ a whole lot. This seemed to be a true crowd favourite as people from up the back descended upon the already tight fitting arena in search of a space to release their nostalgia and energy. I was taken aback also by the follow up ‘Accidents’ which initially closed the set before the audience’s screams for more dragged the band back onto the stage for a dose of ‘Happiness By The Kilowatt’. Man, oh man that was a song that just fitted so perfectly as an end to not only a band’s set but the entire music festival itself. Big and brash and beautiful, I was more than happy to sit and enjoy the spectacle of thousands of people singing along to who for some, was their favourite band.
As the band left the stage, I bummed around the arena a bit more, met up some people I had befriended in my travels here, befriended more people, went on adventures in search of gum and weed to help ease a guy who was chewing his cheek heavily after some pills he took, and all in all, felt at one with the festival’s atmosphere and vibe.
This was Unify, and I was having a great fucking time with some great fucking people.
The third and final day saw punters packing up and cleaning up the shit fest that had become of their own tent and camping area(s). Though if you’re an absolute asshole, you’ll just leave all your shit there, including your tent, articles of clothing, food and drinks and waste. Some of the campsites were putrid and wasteful but then again, the clean-up crew is hired for a reason. Just a shame to see so much go to waste is all.
The day’s acoustic sessions were a great way to chill out and wind down from two days of full on music and partying before we all dragged our arses to cars and onto buses to lumber our way home. Alex Moses from Columbus and Saviour’s Shontay Snow kicked things off but the high points were when Marcus from Northlane performed admirably, turning some of Northlane’s monsters into beautiful serenades and ballads. He also did a gorgeous cover of The Almost’s ‘Amazing, Because It Is’ which made my heart dance. Little Brother (aka John Floreani of Trophy Eyes), was hilariously funny in his honesty of fucking up nearly every song he played whilst at the same time doing a great job of breaking our hearts with his own material such as ‘Cleveland, OH’.
However, in reflection, there are a couple things that really irked me about this entire festival and really got on my nerves after a while. I didn’t mention these in the above parts for the sake of not getting carried away on tangents and for clarity. So here we go: the “bro” and drug culture present was at times unbearable.
Like, do we really have to chant “tits out for the boys” nearly every single fucking time a girl got up on someone’s shoulders? And when they don’t flash, do you really think calling her a ‘slut’ or a ‘bitch’ is going to get you what you want? I was overhearing these things constantly, sometimes from a thousand guys at once, sometimes from just two guys currently in the K-Hole. Not to mention some of the cat calling or comments that guys would make to each other about some of the girls. Some of them even would throw their arm around me or lean over to me and start talking about “hoes” like we were old friends. No, I don’t want to talk about how great it would be to fuck that girl so hard that she’d scream, please get your hand off my shoulder. And yes, I think it’s a little bit rude to say you wouldn’t even touch that girl as she’s got a “chubby ass”. I bet she also wouldn’t want you to touch her anyways with your ketamine soaked fingers and weed stinking breath. And considering someone was fucking sexually assaulted on Friday night, I do not find it assuring that there is this mindset that for a lot of these guys (drunken or sober) think a woman is there for their pleasure; to be looked at, groped at and talked about like nothing more than a piece of meat.
Yeah, I hear you going off in the comments, saying “But there are always a few like that. You can’t help it.” And you’re right. But as some poor person learnt on Friday night, it only takes one fucked up idiot to think they have the right to someone else’s body for a whole life to potentially be ruined and damaged. No matter the small the demographic of these wankers, they are still a demographic none the less and one that needs to be talked about and stamped out. We can stop it. We can make it better and make these events free from that bullshit. And it starts by saying something. When we let those subtle catcalls and comments and snarky insults go unchallenged, we allow this mentality to manifest and mould into what happened that night. Because if no one tells you you’re wrong then you start thinking you’re right.
The other issue here was with some of the drug use. I knew a fair few people who were smoking blunts and doing ketamine – which was in abundance the first two days – along with caps and pills and MDMA and all kinds of shit yet they were still great people to party with and talk to. Yet there were some people who just took it way too far. During Storm the Sky’s set, there was a large group of people who looked absolutely gone. They were anywhere but where they physically were and one look into their wild eyes could tell you that. They were front flipping into people, kicking unsuspecting punters and purposely causing crowd crushes that nearly sent people toppling over onto each other in a rush and was just all in all, showing blatant disrespect for anyone and everyone else around them. It was quite upsetting to see this on such a bigger scale than it had been for other bands where there was usually one or two people who were like that.
I have no issues with drug use, though. I myself am straight edge but have many friends, as said before, who partake in it. Yet the difference between them and the people who kicked a poor unsuspecting girl in the head as she sang along to Storm The Sky’s ‘Jaded Ghost’ is that these people clearly have no idea where they’re limit is or what a drug is capable of. Or what happens when you mix drugs together. So, please, know your limit and know what a drug can do and you will more than be alright as you’ll be able to experience your lucid state of mind without being an absolute wanker of a human being. It’s that simple. And yes, the argument of “don’t go in the pit if you don’t want to get hit” is applicable but the instances I saw were of people doing these aggressive and violent things to people who were not in any way, shape or form wanting to be involved in the pit action. If you wanna apply that “rule” to the kid who swan dived into a group of unsuspecting people at the barrier, far removed from the pit then I’ll have to disagree with you there.
I don’t want to sound like a Debbie downer but I worry that for the most part, that other press and reviews will simply get swept up in nothing but sheer positivity for this event and the bands and not talk about some of these negatives with this culture.
In saying all of this, there is so much to love about Unify. The vibe for 90% of the time was utterly electric and just sensational. I met a bunch of random people who I became friends with in a beautiful fleeting moment of joy for one night all because we sat at the same table! I helped others with their shit camping gear and others offered to help me. There was a lot of love in the air and a lot of support and I think the best way we can help manifest that is by stamping out the bullshit that some people think is okay to bring to places like these.
Well done to all the organisers and volunteers for putting on this event and having it run as smoothly as it did. A big shout out to all the bands, even the ones I didn’t like. I hope you had the best time playing to such huge crowds and for some of you, doing so from so far away from home. And thank you to all the incredible punters out there who know that places like these exist to spread love and positivity and the beautiful art that is music. You are the very heart and the very soul of these events and always will be. Let us preserve the love and make Unify one of the best festivals on the planet, known everywhere for good music, good vibes and above all else, a good bloody time.
This has been Matty Fucking Sievers, signing off.
All of the photo credit shown here goes to our boy, Jordan Tan, the fucking legend.