Five thousand capacity, Hordern Pavilion, The biggest hometown show Sydney’s Polaris have played and it’s pretty bittersweet. A brand new, number one ARIA charting record, an almost completely sold-out tour in some of the largest venues in the country, all mere months after the tragic loss of guitarist Ryan Siew. Definitely bittersweet.
Walking into the venue, the air was buzzing with anticipation, three huge international supports supporting Polaris, a band that many in the scene have seen play in tiny venues such as Club Blink and the like over the years, as they grew from a bunch of youngins to the globe trotting tour de force we’re witnessing tonight, on this, the last show of the tour.
Here only recently with Silent Planet, Connecticut five piece Currents set the stage early, with the pit getting nicely warmed up. Djent riffs, crunchy breakdowns, Monsters, Kill The Ache, the Hordern was packed and raring to go.
Like a rabid dog, Texas heavy hitters Kublai Khan were foaming at the mouth to lay down some solid slabs of sludgy hardcore. With Sean Delander and Andy Marsh of Thy Art Is Murder filling in for Nolan Ashley and Eric English, who couldn’t make it to Australia for this tour. Slow and thick, oh-so thick and sludgy, pit ninjas threw down to every bass heavy riff and dog bark from frontman Matt Honeycutt. “We didn’t come here to fuck spiders” demands Honeycutt as the pit roars back, as all the bands join then on stage for an impromptu dance party. Jamie Hails dining on a banana as they all jumped around for Theory Of Mind. Barking back with Boomslang and Antpile to round out the set. Ruff!
Celebrating twenty years on the road, metalcore stalwarts August Burns Red brought their well-honed A-game, rolling out a solid set covering their extensive back catalogue. Opening with the smashing The Truth Of The Liar, Jake Luhrs front and centre screaming down the house. Meddler, Backfire, Bloodletter, “I want three circle pits” screams Luhrs as the pit roils and spins. Marianas Trench and the crushing White Washed bring us to a rousing finish, the circle pit giving way to a row pit. Love it or hate it, it’s a sight to see.
Building slowly and deliberately, before exploding with cannon like force, Fatalism opening track Harbinger opens the set. Jamie Hails, (sans-banana), chokes the mic stand, fireworks fill the stage as the electronic riff bounces around the fully packed Hordern. Without missing a beat, we get another new cut, explosive single Nightmare, the emotional rollercoaster was certainly leaving the station already. Calls for circle pits come after every song, “Faster, faster!”, the crowd oblige, pit ninjas flying every which way. Huge crowd singalongs for Lucid and Hypermania, CO2 canons fire constantly as balls of fire lick the ceiling.
“Push it back, more, More! I want a tornado!” screams Jamie, from stage to sound desk becomes a whirlwind, sucking any unlucky punters on the edge into the cyclone for Landmine, the breakdown drops like a bomb. The next part of the set was the part that really hit, an emotional gut punch, as together as a band spoke from the heart, knowing that this hometown crowd full of friends and family made it even more gut wrenching. Expressing their sorrow and love for their brother and friend Ryan Siew, the overwhelming sadness of the loss of such a heartwarming individual. He deserves to be on that stage, celebrating their ARIA charting record and all the love in the room for Ryan and for Polaris. A lot of tears were shed, this reviewer included. Makes it harder when you realise that these guys have had to go through this every night of the tour, dedicating Martyr (Waves) to Ryan.
Choking back the tears the band ripped straight into Parasites, and with no time to waste a double shot of Masochist and Inhumane round out the set. The crowd pouring over the barrier, keeping security busy. Gone barely a few seconds, the boys were back for the encore, Pray For Rain and The Remedy drove it home, sparks raining from the roof, confetti raining on the crowd, the entire room singing along as one.
Feeling like I’m a wreck, physically and emotionally, not sure what hit harder, the circle pit or the love in the room for the biggest metal band in Sydney.