Live Review: Polaris – Corner Hotel, Melbourne (21/4/2018)

A little over two and a half years ago, a friend of mine suggested that I go to see some band from Sydney called Polaris while they were down in Melbourne. Not knowing them, I have to say that I was hooked immediately after their set. Their blend of hook-driven metalcore with an emphasis on technicality was a big winner in my mind and one that I thought had a great deal of crossover appeal between a few very distinct set of fanbases. Since then, to say that Polaris has gone from strength to strength with 2016’s ‘The Guilt & The Grief’ EP and their damned solid debut record ‘The Mortal Coil’, is a real understatement. These guys are just blowing the fuck up right now! Much to my surprise, the band managed to sell out their entire national ‘Mortal Coil’ tour this month, and tonight’s third of three sold-out Melbourne gigs proved exactly why they’ve accomplished such a feat and why their stratospheric rise occurred in the first place. 

Opening up the evening were a band I’d actually never heard of in the past, Northern Territory’s Tapestry. They’d made the trek down from Darwin of all places, and I can’t think of any other bands of their ilk from this rather geographically isolated place in terms of heavy music. Nonetheless, they were very impressive live, playing a lot of tracks off their recently released EP ‘Ghost Of Me’, and a particular highlight was the sheer range displayed by their vocalist, Tom Devine-Harrison. While I found his harsher screams decent, his true strength laid absolutely in his clean vocals, and now that I’ve actually checked out their recorded work, I can say he can definitely hold his own in a live environment which, for whatever reason, is typically not the case for bands like this. Job well done guys, you’ve more than won me over.

You’d be a fool to not check this band out!

Next up were Adelaide’s Ambleside. Now, being honest, I don’t think I’ve seen Ambleside play live now in at least a couple of years, but they’ve definitely shown a great deal of improvement in that time. Their brand of emotive melodic hardcore was definitely the right choice for a crowd like this, which is one that I would’ve thought would be chasing more of the hook driven variety. But these guys didn’t disappoint, playing a strong 30-minute set to a basically full room, which was great to see. While they did suffer from a bit of an inactive crowd (then again, so did Tapestry beforehand), Ambleside definitely had a few of their fans out supporting them hard.

They recently dropped a brilliant new single called ‘Blur’ – which was great live, by the by – so please suss that out.

The Plot In You are a band that I’ve been waiting patiently to see live for quite some time now, and it always astounds me why these guys aren’t the biggest band in America. The majority of the set was, of course, made up of songs from their newest record, ‘Dispose’ (which you may remember I spoke very highly of), and these poppier, more melodic tracks struck a chord with the audience, in particular, ‘Not Just Breathing‘ and ‘Feel Nothing‘. Vocalist and band leader Landon Tewers has one of the most diverse voices in metalcore today and he was very much on point this evening. The band played some of their older tracks like the anthemic ‘Take Me Away‘, ‘Time Changes Everything‘ and even an oldie like ‘Fiction Religion‘, which was a real surprise to me given their current output and their own disdain for their older material. It’s also a goddamn shame that they don’t have as great of a following in Australia as they should, because The Plot In You displayed just how astronomically good they are and the majority of their varied range of styles within one killer 40-minute set.

And of course, we have Polaris. Now, in my review of their set supporting Parkway Drive at The Forum mere months ago, I wondered what would be next for this band. And I got my answer the second the band opened the set with ‘Lucid’ and the entire crowd went crazy. Following this was my favourite track off ‘The Mortal Coil’, which is ‘Consume’. With everyone singing along to that huge chorus, it really shows you how well written the band’s songs and hooks are, and the interplay between lead vocalist Jamie Hails and bassist/clean singer Jake Steinhauser has only improved with time. On this occasion, these two handled it unbelievably well, and Hails, in particular, commanded a tightly packed and excited audience as well as I’ve seen any singer in even bigger metal bands do. Drummer Daniel Furnari was on the ball as ever, and guitarists Rick Schneider and Ryan Siew were, as per usual, showcasing their ridiculous ability with their riffs and melodies.

When ‘Consume’ eventually kicked in, I witnessed one of the biggest pits I think I’ve ever seen at the Corner, and while it seems like a live review cliche, the entire room seemed like it was shaking. It was great to hear an older track in ‘Hold You Under’ played as well, but the biggest responses were for the newer album tracks as the audience was definitely made up of the band’s newer, mainstream metalcore audience. That’s absolutely not a bad thing, but it’s such a huge change for this band that I used to see play in front of 200 people now have a room full of people I’ve never seen before giving them such a loving reaction. And of course, the biggest and best song of the night was reserved for the band’s debut album hot lead single, ‘The Remedy’.

Now, way back in 2013, I saw Northlane play at this very venue when they had just dropped their best record (yeah I’m going to say it, it’s better than ‘Discoveries’) ‘Singularity’, when that band had just broken into this very same type of audience. It was one of the best live showings I’d seen from a band in this venue, yet Polaris just eclipsed that show this evening by a long margin. If these Sydney upstarts play their cards right, I do not see any reason as they why they couldn’t sell out venues twice this size or more within another year or two.

I’ve been saying it now for over two years, but this is a band you need to see live.

All PC: Bree Wallace

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