Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Queen's Birthday Emo Kid Amusement Park Extravaganza

Come Together
Luna Park, June 9th & 10th

So last weekend was Queen's Birthday over here (happy fucking birthday you worthless old bag!), and in the interests of getting wasted in new and exciting environments I attended the Come Together music festival.

Some ska band

The festival was held over two days and the venue was Luna Park, site of former concert going shenanigans involving Lamb of God / Killswitch Engage and Nine Inch Nails. The amusement park was actually open while the festival was on and tickets to Come Together were valid for unlimited rides on the attractions, so there was a bit of amusement to be had in seeing drunken metal heads mingling with preschool kids and their families in the queue for the ferris wheel.

Some other ska band. No idea what they're called but they were pretty good.

The venue was well suited to the festival. They split the stage in two and were very efficient at switching between bands, I don't recall waiting more than ten seconds for the next band to start after the last one finished, compared to say the Big Day Out where you are routinely waiting fifteen minutes between bands for say Marilyn Manson to finish throwing a tantrum at his roadies.
Yet another random ska band. I don't think I even stayed to watch any of their gig but took this photo of them sitting on one another's shoulders while playing.

The two days of the festival were fairly clearly divided into 'punk and hardcore' day and 'rock and metal' day. Due to my lack of reading comprehension skills I showed up nice and early on the Saturday only to realise that it was hardcore day and the only band I wanted to see were Norma Jean who were not on until about nine that evening. Since it was punk day the average age of the kids attending was probably about fifteen. I did my best to try and appreciate some of the earlier acts, and some of the ska bands that played were pretty good, but I couldn't stand the little shits in the hardcore audiences, who think they're superior to emos because when they listen to angry music they wave their arms around and pretend to hit each other. I spent most of the day out the back in the bar.

Some pop punk band. They sucked but I liked the way this photo came out.

As well as Norma Jean the other band I made a point of checking out was Carpathian, just because I've heard of them a little and they have a somewhat metal sounding name. They weren't too bad, and they certainly put the metal in metalcore with some brutal riffs, but I almost felt embarrassed standing next to these teenage kids windmilling their arms around in order to work out their frustrations about how unfairly their dad treats them. The band themselves were certainly not averse to encouraging this behaviour; urging “all you little fucking emos" into performing the wall of death and other such behaviour.

Carpathian: it's not a real metalcore concert until the singer calls the audience a bunch of faggots.

Norma Jean were OK but nothing special, and by this stage in the evening I was fairly drunk and cranky, and very sick of teenagers so I went home to coma and get up again for the next day.

Norma Jean: Damned by mediocrity and all day drinking

Sunday was much better. On the way through Luna Park someone recommended Regular John to me and they were playing as I arrived. They were enjoyable, reminding me a lot of The Have, or maybe a kind of grunge Led Zeppelin. It was also weird to notice that suddenly all the kids in Sydney are wearing Seattle style checked flannel. Is this a sudden fashion trend or is it just because it's been getting cold?
Regular John looking regular

Next up were Mourning Tide who were a fucking joke. Enjoyable in a very cheesy way but I sadly suspect that everything I found so funny about them was not intended to be that way. They sounded an awful lot like Guns and Roses only with death metal vocals and seemed to be as much about cock rock posturing as playing music. I felt sorry for Psycroptic, waiting patiently on the next stage to begin as Mourning Tide went through at least three drum fill packed fake endings to their last song.
Mourning Tide. This photo doesn't quite do justice to the posing.

I'd heard good things about Psycroptic, a death metal band from Tasmania, and they were one of the bands I was keenest to see. They played technically accomplished brutal death metal along the lines of Suffocation but I suspect that that style of music is reaching the limits of its appeal to me. It was a decent concert but nothing that really impressed me. I did feel a lot of sympathy for the band, who managed to open up an enormous circle pit that no one danced in, while in front of the stage were a huge, almost entirely female, gaggle of teenagers trying to be metal. “So this is what it has come to.” I thought to myself, “One of the meanest fucking death metal bands in Australia literally reduced to playing for a handful of fifteen year old girls.”
Psycroptic again. Bonus points for fucking rocking.

Next up were Ink. Their music was uninspiring, they made me think of a more metal version of Linkin Park, but they definitely got points for being the coolest looking band of the day. They also had hot girls in sexy black outfits dancing on stage and throwing giant black beach balls into the crowd. Believe it or not this is actually pretty typical for what passes as goth culture in Australia.

Ink. Believe it or not I forgot to take a photo of the dancing girls.

At this point I went to get something to eat and then of course on the way back I needed a drink...

[Scene Missing]

Some time later I shuffled out of the bar and on a whim decided to see a band I'd never heard of before called Mammal. As it turned out, they were fucking awesome. For some reason Australians seem to have a particular talent for funk metal. The first comparisons that came to mind for these guys were Rage Against the Machine or Faith No More, but on reflection they sound most like what the Red Hot Chilli Peppers would if they didn't suck. At any rate for the first time in two days the whole arena was packed out and going off. Popular opinion has it they were the best band of the festival and I would whole heartedly agree.

Mammal. Rocking.

I was tempted to stick around for Karnivool, but I had a vague feeling that I'd heard them before and didn't like them. I did come back out for Cog, who I did enjoy. They had a vaguely mathy style that for once actually did deserve to be described as mathematical, in a way that even Meshuggah doesn't.


Lastly, Shihad. I was surprised to realise just how popular they are over here (and even more so by the number of people who expressed disappointment to me that Blindspott cancelled). It was good to see these guys again, it's been four years since the last time I caught them live, and even then it was only because Fur Patrol were opening for them, having gone a bit dark on Shihad after the Pacifier debacle. But when you're a stranger in a strange land you take your Kiwi rock where you can find it so I rocked on up to the front of the stage for these guys, and had a pretty good time. They're still a good live band, 'Wait and See' and 'My Mind's Sedate' still rock and Jonny Toogood still looks like a cherubic schoolboy. The setlist was weighted towards new stuff, which was decent but not any kind of a return to form. Like a lot of bands these days they seem to want to reinvent themselves as U2. The old songs they played were 'My Mind's Sedate', 'Wait and See', 'Comfort Me' and 'The General Electric'. The first two were the highlights of the set, but I was surprised to find once again that 'Comfort Me' isn't all that bad. Maybe it just seems better in comparison to the rest of the Pacifier album. Anyway, it was a nice set to close out the night.


Lastly the headliners were Grinspoon, so I went home. Well actually, to the casino, but that's another story.

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