Whether it be artist, fan or friend, the Greyscale Records family really came together this past weekend for one of night of live music passion.
[PC: Oliver Midson.]
After Ballarat metalcore locals, Anticline, opened up what would be a long night of live music, (can’t write about what I missed seeing due to being stuck in traffic, sorry) Brisbane’s Deadlights hit the Corner to kick off this three year celebration of Greyscale Records.
Armed with heaps of subs, some bangers off their ‘Mesma‘ LP – like ‘The Mad Scientist‘ and ‘Invisible Hands‘ – and ending out with latest single, ‘Bathed In Venom,’ Deadlights‘ live show easily positions them as one of Australia’s best live acts. Frontman Dylan Davidson has such a passionate scream, one that translates so well from the studio over to the stage, and he has the strong physical energy to match. Guitarist and singer Tynan Reibelt doesn’t miss a beat, and his voice is spot-on when he’s up behind the mic, punching out these riffs and sounding so authentic in voice. Bassist Sean Prior adds plenty too, not just the low-end four-string rumble and a physical presence, but in him now doing more vocal harmonies with Tynan, adding another great little layer to these already big choruses. And drummer Joshua O’Callaghan was on the ball behind the kit, hitting those grooves damned hard.
Yet their live show would completely unravel if just one of these four crucial, individual components faltered. But it didn’t on this night, and in me seeing them multiple times over the last couple years, I can’t really recall a time when it ever has. And that’s because Deadlights‘ live show just gets better and better, becoming more scarily air-tight. They’ve got the message and the music down-pat. And it’s clear that the four of them love playing these songs together, even if they don’t always get the raucous reaction from the crowd that these tracks so often deserve. (Kinda like on this night’s show, bar a circle pit around the infamous Corner Hotel Pole). Let’s hope that new material comes much sooner rather than later, as an unreleased track that was played sounded pretty dang sweet.
After an acoustic set from Stuck Out’s Josh Walker over on the Corner’s smaller second stage, giving this event a mini-fest vibe a la Invasion Fest – where Josh notably, amusingly, performed an acoustic version of Justice For The Damned’s ‘No Brother, No Friend‘ (as one does) – Aburden kicked out one of the best sets I’ve ever seen from them.
Just like Deadlights before them, Aburden up-kept the passion that their Northern brothers had, and again just like their peers, if one thing was off, the whole set would plummet. But that wasn’t the case, not even close. Shit, even a backing track timing issue early on didn’t seem to bother them as they powered on through, holding firmly to these songs and playing it off cool without even breaking a sweat. It was a set where you’d be forgiven for thinking that everything was going swimmingly on-stage and nothing was amiss. Such was the professionalism expressed by a band beyond their years.
Fan-fave tunes like ‘They Say‘, ‘Sorry‘, the magical ‘To The Sky‘ and the absolute alt-rock stunner that is ‘One For You‘ showed how far this young group has progressed as performers. There’s a new confidence behind Aburden lately, and I sincerely hope to see that continue on and expand from here on in. Experience is key for that kind of growth, and these five young men are just soaking up all of XP up right now. With screamer Mason Forster playing all of the keys live, Kyle Burrows‘ wonderful voice being mesmerising in-person, and with some great lighting and added screens and LED’s, Aburden felt world-class tonight.
The giant style and dynamic contrast between Our Past Days‘ Matt Doherty putting on a stripped back set on the second stage – even whipping out the emotive OPD belter, ‘Bloom Where You’re Planted‘ – and Gravemind crushing it up next wasn’t lost on anyone. However, this highlights the great thing about the past and present Greyscale Records roster: it isn’t just pop-punk, but it isn’t just metal either. And that’s what attracts a lot of people to this label, to this family of music lovers. There’s real variety within their bands, and that’s only going to continue and expand as more artists fall in under the house of Greyscale.
Gravemind treated this showcase gig like an album launch for their debut LP, ‘Conduit‘, forgoing any material pre-2018 and sticking to choice new cuts and their awesome existentialist single, ‘Lifelike,’ and sent it hard. Kicking off with the monstrous ‘Volgin‘, this tasty gravy train never stopped, as the group’s latest batch of emotional deathcore tracks imbued with melody and dynamism steam-rolled right through the Corner, leaving nothing in its wake. ‘Vox Populi,’ ‘Phantom Pain,’ ‘Reading;Steiner‘ and ‘Reveal‘ all sounded monolithic live. And in what I think is for the first time ever, Gravemind actually had real bounce and participation from the crowd for these newer songs. You could see the surprise but also the sheer elation on the faces of the band members as this insanely loving audience response unfolded before them with each song played. Obviously, I am immensely biased towards Gravemind, but when one witnesses a powerhouse set like this, you realise that they’ve earned this kind of response; that they’re totally deserving of the big things that are about to come their way. Get the fuck on-board now.
After the second smaller stage saw Whatever, Forever – featuring members of Our Past Days and Justice For The Damned, and who are also now the freshest face on Greyscale’s lineup – pump out some early angsty pop-punk and post-hardcore tracks, Antagonist A.D. went on to annihilate the venue.
When you think of not only New Zealand heavy music, but also Australian hardcore, Antagonist A.D. should be a band that instantly comes to your mind. They’re practically legends for this scene, never once afraid to share what they believe in – whether in song form or otherwise, and regardless of personal or political topics – and their set on this wonderful night cemented not just these facts, but their high-ranking status too. Their tight half hour or so performance had a little bit of everything for all fans. From the ‘Nothing From No One‘ killers like ‘I’m Just Not There‘, to their two baller new singles ‘No Justice‘ and ‘A.P.M.D‘, to even a sick throwback in the form of ‘These Cities, These Graves‘, as well as some of the better ‘Haunt Me As I Roam‘ jams as per ‘Coffin Keeper‘; Antag covered plenty of good shit from their detailed, lengthy career. To put it simply, it was dope! Seeing this band live is always a fucking pleasure, and they easily had THE set of the whole night, with so much crowd action going on as well.
Antag’s time up on-stage also saw what was easily the night’s overall biggest highlight; a warm and fuzzy, kind nod to Ash Hull and Joshua Merriel for everything they do at Greyscale and for helping their artists’ dreams come true. All before vocalist Sam Crocker politely forced the pair to crowd surf whilst he and the rest of Antag ripped through their wicked cover of Arkangel’s ‘From Heaven We Fall.’ (Props to Josh for getting more hang time than Ash.) It was a moment that I can say: “I was there.”
Alpha Wolf really seem like they’re on Cloud 9 lately. Finally touring overseas, having a healthier band dynamic, continuing their hard work ethic along Australian routes, and getting a great response to their recent ‘Fault‘ EP is all in a day’s work for these guys. But if there was one Greyscale act to headline this first ever label showcasing, then it was definitely Alpha Wolf. They bring the crowds in and they bring the heat up on-stage too. While there was some slightly awkward dear-air between songs at times, when these vicious, tough metalcore tracks were being pumped out, the crowd was just eating it up greedily; mosh-pits being activated and bitter words of anger all being offered right back at the quintet. They sure weren’t here to fuck spiders, to the say very least, and ‘Sub-Zero‘ confirmed that intent as soon as they opened with it.
Mixing ‘Nail Biter‘, select ‘Mono‘ cuts, raging tunes off of ‘Fault‘ (shout out to the absolute skin-peeler that is ‘Spirit Breaker‘), and 2018’s venomous ‘Black Mamba‘, Alpha Wolf’s set contained pretty much any and every song you’d want to see them perform. Similar to guitarist Michael Petritsch from Gravemind now doing backing vocals for that band live, bassist John Arnold now providing more backing screams for various tracks just adds a hell of lot and helps make things more economical for frontman Lochie Keogh live, vocally speaking. Speaking of, this was actually the first time that I’ve seen Alpha live with Lochie manning the helm, and while he does all of the older songs well, it’s the newer tracks where he kills it best.
Alpha Wolf without a doubt placed the cherry on top of what was already a great live presentation for one of Australia’s fastest and best growing record labels now three years deep. While I’m sure everyone has their preferred record the label has dropped or their favourite artist signed, there’s not an objectively bad band to be found on their roster; nothing egregious or super questionable. And that’s a hard thing to come by these days. So here’s to the next three years of Greyscale; here’s to another great night like this one.