GIG REVIEW: Parkway Drive, Polaris & Deadlights Live at Tivoli, Brisbane
Parkway Drive is an Australian institution. Much in the same way that AC/DC is our shining light on the rock front, Parkway Drive has taken the metalcore genre by the throat and hasn’t let go, propelling not only themselves, but a slew of Australian bands into the forefront of a global audience. Their monstrous success is largely due to the strength of their sophomore album Horizons, an album which had its tenth birthday late last year, an occasion which the band decided to celebrate with a sold out run of shows across Australia. The fourth show of the tour (and subsequently third night in Brisbane) rolled around on Monday night, with the Byron Bay boys supported by local acts Deadlights and Sydney siders Polaris.
Local act Deadlights was up first and absolutely relished the chance to be opening the night. They played well, bringing their tracks to life with an energy that was channeled well through their vocalist, and were a suitable selection to open the night, even if the limited space didn’t allow them to reach their performance potential. Specific mention needs to go out to the clean vocal harmonization utilised by both the guitarist and bassist, as it was during these moments that the music really sprang out, but all in all a good, if yet reserved performance. While Deadlights performed solidly they just didn’t have the room to really look comfortable on stage, and this is one aspect where second act Polaris blew them entirely out of the water.
Polaris is a buzz band in Australia at the moment, and coming off the success of their album The Mortal Coil it’s not difficult to see why. Their performance for this show was nothing short of amazing, with the band feeding off the energy from the crowd and engaging with then at every opportunity. This coupled up with the musical strengths of their tracks absolutely propelled them into the spotlight. The crowd lapped up every moment the band was on stage and paid the band back with circle pits and a wall of death.
With the exception of some minor feedback on clean vocals during the first track, it was very difficult to fault their whole performance. Their movement around the stage, and engagement with the crowd was at a level that is often only exhibited by bands much further along in their careers. There has long been talk that Polaris is the next big thing for Australian metalcore, and their polished performance certainly cemented that notion. Expect big things from this group in the coming years.
Following a brief intermission which included a venue-long Mexican Wave, and the whole house singing along to System of a Down’s Chop Suey and Linkin Park’s One Step Closer, Parkway Drive emerged from the dark to Horizons opener Begin.
Launching into The Sirens Song turned the excitement level up, but it was when the band hit track three that the energy hit fever pitch as the thunderous roar of the crowd screaming Carrion beckoned in the songs opening and didn’t let up throughout the song. This level was perhaps only rivalled during the night when the band performed Idols and Anchors and invited the crowd to harmonize the opening bars – something which is extremely hard to describe without the obvious tag line of ‘you had to be there’.
Vocalist Winston McCall’s powerful voice carried many of the songs , but anybody who knows the album would attest to how good the guitar work is, and ten years on the dual guitar combo of Jeff Ling and Luke Kilpatrick is still at a fantastic level. Ben Gordon’s display behind the drum kit again proved that he is one of the most underrated drummers going, never once missing a beat and doing it all with a smile on his face, and Jia O’Connor managed to impart his own influence on the show by putting in an energetic performance.
Parkway’s stripped down stage show continues to work wonders. Having nothing on stage except for the stomp boxes and drum kit gives them the ability to move around and perform at a level that many artists still refuse to. While their wall of screen panels provided their usual visual displays, it never feels overdone or out of place, and often were only used to provide an indication of what song was coming overdone.
While it was a ten year celebration, this show wasn’t only a play through of Horizons, and had newer tracks like Vice Grip injected into the fold throughout the night, demonstrating the growth and maturity the band has gained through their music over the years.
All night there was a steady stream of fans crowd surfing and tumbling over the barrier, and many exhausted faces suffering from the sauna like temperatures of the venue, but somehow everyone still managed to have smiles on their faces. These persisted long after an encore of new hits and out into the street long after the last note had been played.
Horizons was a turning point for Australian music – a pivotal moment where Parkway Drive capitalised on the successes they had built and propelled themselves to the forefront of the metalcore movement. These shows are proof that even ten years on these tracks still stand strong (with some of them remaining staples in setlists to this date). While nothing may ever replace that same feelings of seeing Parkway perform these songs live for one of the first times at the Byron Bay High School ten years ago, the Brisbane crowd did a damn good job at making the band feel like they were at home and recapturing that energy from so long ago. With a sold out run ahead of them, you can only imagine that the energy from these shows is going to give the band some ridiculous momentum going into the next album.