It was a Unify Festival reunion in Sydney on Thursday night, with a huge bill of Pagan, Crossfaith, UnderOath and The Amity Affliction hitting up the Hordern Pavilion. Their Heaven and Hell tour packs a hell of a punch with a lineup like this, but for some reason, Sydney wasn’t feeling it. The Hordern had up the dreaded curtains of shame, blocking off the side sets of seats. And while a 6 30pm start on a Thursday night leaves much to be desired, Pagan still stole the show, throwing everything they had into their set. The only downside to this set was that not enough people had gotten there yet. With red wine dripping down her chin like blood, the demonic presence of frontwoman Nikki left punters enthralled, captivated, and maybe a little bit shocked.
But if they were shocked from Pagan, they had another thing coming with Crossfaith. Overheard described from one punter as “some sort of whacked out rave”, Crossfaith were phenomenal and that’s about all we can say about it. With all the energy of monkeys on speed, Crossfaith tore through their set with gusto. Opening with the first two tracks off their latest album Deus Ex Machina, as the first notes of Catastrophe hit, something awakened from deep (deep, deep) inside of the crowd, and by the time the dance breakdown hit, nothing could stop them. All we can hope for is that we see a Crossfaith headline tour sometime soon.
Up next were UnderOath, by now playing to a pretty sizeable crowd, the Thursday night slot considered. With a balanced set from 2018 album Erase Me, with plenty of older stuff peppered in, the Florida natives showed no signs of age. The pure, ferocious energy of frontman Spencer Chamberlain was enough to make even the punters watching him feel exhausted, as a massive moshpit raged across the floor. It was clear that some people were here for UnderOath and UnderOath alone, with a steady stream of punters hailing an Uber and leaving the venue as soon as their set finished.
Those who left would surely regret it though, with Amity hitting the stage to play one of the tightest, well produced set we have ever seen them play. Opening with Drag The Lake, the opening scream of “KICK IT!” echoed around the now-packed room. Rolling straight into Ivy, it was a Misery party, but the crowd showed no traces of disappointment – despite a horde of OG Amity fans being not-so-impressed by the 2018 change of direction. To the point where one punter at Unify Festival was seen sporting a shirt declaring “NEW AMITY FUCKING SUCKS” (despite Amity not actually being on the bill). But even those disappointed fans must be dragged back by their heavier latest single – as a cry of “ALL MY FRIENDS ARE DEAD” sent shivers down spines all around the venue.
The middle of the set saw a throwback to 2010’s Youngbloods, as singer Ahren opened the track Anchors with the statement “This is a litmus test to see if we ever play this song again” (and judging by the crowd’s reaction – they will). And in a Slipknot-esque turn, a mid-set drum solo by relatively new drummer Joe Longobardi saw a rising drum set and a stream of gold sparkles shooting up from the stage, and falling down from the rigging. While Feels Like I’m Dying didn’t exactly go down a treat (trying to get people to sing along to a two second hook of a song is incredibly difficult it seems), another blast from the past came in the form of Chasing Ghosts, a song that’s gone unplayed this year up until this tour. Ripping through Pittsburgh to a massive singalong, and throwing in an encore of All Fucked Up for good measure, Amity’s Heaven and Hell tour was a huge night. Each of the bands playing would have made an awesome support band for Amity, but to have them all together on one bill was nothing short of exceptional.
Photos + review – Britt Andrews