Friday, March 23, 2007

No One Will Break Your Fall

Converge – Live in Sydney, 22nd March

Well as it happens the concert scene was a little quiet while I was internetless, so there's nothing exciting that I've been gagging to post about, but we're straight back into it this week with Converge, on their first ever Australian tour.

I was surprised that they were playing at such a small venue, a little student bar at UNSW, and for so cheap. Only $30! I thought they were much more popular than that. (They certainly deserve to be more popular than fucking Satyricon.) The t-shirts were reasonably priced too, I'm not much of a band t-shirt wearer but for $20 I was persuaded to get one.

The lighting actually was this dim, it's not just my camera

The crowd was very uni, and to be honest I was far from being in the mood to be surrounded by screaming, giggling first years. On the plus side, my first hand reporting has now confirmed my hypothesis from last year. Hardcore chicks are hot.

These guys ran around the stage so much that it's hard to get a photo of them that doesn't look blurry

The opening acts were OK. First up were Hospital... uh... something something... as you can tell they really made an impression. They were OK but they really were basically a crappier version of Converge, only with beards. Next up were '4 Dead', who didn't impress me much but sure got the mosh pit going and had plenty of stage antics and energy. One of the guitarists wore a Converge t-shirt. I've found that Sydney is pretty bad for “You're the guy wearing the t-shirt of the band you're going to see. Don't be that guy.” but this is the first time I've come across a case of “You're the guy wearing the t-shirt of the band you're opening for. Please don't be that guy.”

The guitarist opens with an extended intro to 'Plagues'

But on to Converge. The setlist is pretty hard for me to remember, even with the vocalist introducing most of the songs by name, but among the songs played were:

No Heroes
Eagles Become Vultures
The Broken Vow
A bunch of short, brutal tracks. I think I heard at least parts of 'Drop Out' and 'Hope Street'
A bunch of old stuff that I didn't know

The encore was 'The Saddest Day', another old song that I didn't know, but judging by the crowd reaction a genuine fan favourite.

Yep. I'm afraid these are the best photos I got

The band delivered with all the energy they have on record, and stuck pretty close to the way they sound on their albums. The moshpit was fucking crazy and a good time was had by all. The vocalist was a really great frontman, delivering all the hardcore clichés ('believe in yourself', 'look your enemies in the eye and tell them that you're better than they are') with real passion, which I guess makes them not really clichés any more. One thing he said did stick with me, “This song is about the worst person I have ever met. This world is standing at a crossroads; you can choose to be a demon or a king or a queen,” which I thought was really cool (they then proceeded to belt out an awesome version of 'Concubine' to close the set), but it made me think. So often hardcore bands make political intimations, but they rarely come out and say what side they are actually on. With most bands you can assume they're lefties, but hardcore and black metal as genres sometimes have definite right wing tendencies, so you can never be sure. If I were to guess I'd say Converge were lefties but I honestly don't know. Anyway, it's interesting that hardcore bands often keep their political allegiances close to their chests. I'd guess that maybe they feel that no matter what they are, they're going to alienate half of their fanbase...

You can't really tell from this picture but that's the vocalist crowd surfing

Anyway the concert itself was great. Not up to Tool or Isis standards but fucking great all the same. These guys seem to genuinely want to do the best for their fans, as demonstrated by their reasonably priced merchandise, the constant, genuine stage banter and the way the vocalist stuck around after the last song and shook the hands of everyone in the front row. The highlight of the set for me was 'Concubine' (I was hoping for 'Grim Heart/Black Rose' but that was always going to be a long shot), but I didn't know much of the old stuff (although the audience clearly did). I hope these guys come back again soon when I've had time to consume a few more of their albums.

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