Seemingly weeks after I said that I didn’t know why promoters don’t book more shows at The Reverence Hotel in Footscray, I found myself back there within a month to see yet another solid lineup of great heavy bands. This time around we had an interstate mash-up of Brisbane’s Deadlights, Sydney’s Life’s Ill, and from the homegrown Melbourne turf, we had Dregg, Cast Down as well as Wicked Figures. So who stood out on this cold, rainy Friday evening? Let’s find out!
Well, first off were local metalcore five-piece Wicked Figures. Straight out, this band do have a decent amount of potential, and I think in particular they have a lot of strength in their vocal departments. The songs performed were definitely on the generic side of things for metalcore but within the confines of this particular genre, that’s fine. However, so long as the band themselves look committed to what they’re doing and that they take it seriously, and in this case, I just didn’t see it.
Outside of the aforementioned vocalists, there were a few times where one of the guitarists fell out of time too. Which is not an absolute deal breaker most times, but when it’s in a clean section where the only thing you can hear is that guitar and a hi-hat, it’s much less easy to ignore and forgive. I feel like these guys could benefit a great deal from playing to a click track to further rectify this sort of thing. At the very least, they did get a few people moving around and getting involved which isn’t always the case with an opener that people aren’t super familiar with.
What can I say more about Cast Down that I didn’t already say in my review of that Honest Crooks ‘Suffer’ headliner date at this same venue a few weeks back? This band are really on the rise lately, and it must have both awesome and motivating to receive a good word of approval from Parkway Drive’s Winston McCall in a Triple J interview a couple of weeks ago. Though these guys stood out so much then the night’s opening act.
There’s a real lack of stage banter with the hardcore/industrial-metal sound of Cast Down, but that space is filled in with samples and that creates a strong set that flows well without having any dead air or awkward pauses. This time around at The Rev, there were no issues with the samples either (which is something that plagued more than one act the last time I was here). These Melbourne guys also have new material not too far off as well, and I feel that with a proper release behind them, Cast Down’s going to build a decent-sized fanbase around Australia very quickly. Namely just because there just aren’t any bands around the local scene doing what they do, nor anywhere near as well either.
Life’s Ill made the trip down from Sydney and their no-nonsense, simple yet effective brand of metalcore/hardcore resonated with the audience really well, eliciting the biggest response from them thus far. If their set was a more sombre affair due to it being their guitarist Rhys Jones‘ last tour with the band, you sure could’ve fooled me!
The biggest responses came for both ‘Still Ill’ and ‘Drowned’, and it’s clear these guys are very good at what they do. In a way, it’s interesting and exciting to see two local bands – Life’s Ill and Cast Down before them – play within the space of an hour, representing two distinct styles of the same genre, and to see both do them well is a real bonus.
However, it very soon became apparent that the punters were out tonight to see two bands: Dregg and Deadlights.
Dregg are on Cloud 9 at the moment. After dropping ‘The Dregg EP’ late last year, the band are no doubt going from strength to strength; never once slowing down their run of live shows and work ethic. And you know what? For a band that didn’t really resonate with me the first time I saw them (Saviour’s first headline tour after reforming over two years ago), they’ve now more than won me over as an enjoyable live act.
Vocalist Christopher Mackertich has an uncanny way of working up a crowd and has a unique stage presence to boot, and with music this energetic, it definitely works. Being able to engage an audience as a frontman is such a key factor for any band to put on a solid show in such a short time, and Dregg nail this factor fully. I feel that with another good EP (or even an LP, dare we dream), these upcoming weirdos could easily sustain and further grow their brewing popularity into full-blown Dregg mania.
It takes a lot for a post-hardcore/metalcore band such as Deadlights to impress me. As I’ve stated earlier, a genre like this can often be really limiting and seem to always keep bands trapped in the same songwriting and sonic moulds – i.e. Wicked Figures. However, as I quickly found out during their set, these guys are great in a live setting. Garnering by far the biggest crowd response of the night (well, obviously), the Brisbane four-piece powered through several standout tracks from their 2017 debut record, ‘Mesma’.
Often the biggest failing with bands of this ilk are the clean vocals live, yet in this case, guitarist/clean vocalist Tynan Reibelt definitely held his own and sounded on-point. Long-haired frontman and screamer Dylan Davidson handled the crowd really well also, and as a whole, the band have become a really well-oiled machine with how they perform their live sets now; never missing a beat throughout. As with Dregg, a solid follow-up release soon enough from these guys will be absolutely key in setting Deadlights right up to that next level.
We’re all very keen for that to happen, are you?
Catch Deadlights together with Life’s Ill & Dregg on the rest of the ‘Mesma’ Australia tour this month:
FRIDAY 18 MAY Crowbar, Brisbane 18+ with APATE & WILDHEART
SATURDAY 19 MAY – ECP Studios, Central Coast AA with GRIM INDIANA & SHUT OUT
SUNDAY 20 MAY – Burdekin Hotel, Sydney 18+ with WATCHTOWERS & TEETH (first show)
MONDAY 21 MAY – Rad Bar, Wollongong Lic/AA with WILDFIRES