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A Night with Ocean Grove

Josh Hockey went to go see Ocean Grove in Melbourne and took photographer Albert LaMontagne with him to capture the night.

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Since the release of their debut album The Rhapsody Tapes, Melbourne’s Ocean Grove have been on a rampage. Selling out venues like The Corner, and touring with bands such as Architects, Limp Bizkit, Crossfaith, and The Amity Affliction, the last two and a half years has been a wild ride. This all looked to be in jeopardy earlier this year, as it was announced that vocalist Luke Holmes and guitarist Jimmy Hall would be departing the band.

They had been there from the start, and them leaving was a massive deal. Ocean Grove played their final set with Luke and Jimmy at Unify The Gathering 2019 but were insistent that this was the beginning of a brand new chapter for OG. Bass player and clean vocalist Dale Tanner would proceed to step up to become their frontman, while former member of The Beverly Chills, Twiggy Hunter, would join the band to play bass. Having only completed a tour with Hands Like Houses with this new lineup (that I was unable to attend), I was excited to see how this new lineup would work for the band. So when they announced the Ask For The Anthem Tour I couldn’t wait to check them out.

Opening the show was recent UNFD signing, Sleep Talk. A few weeks off the release of their debut album Everything In Colour, they clearly had something to prove. People flowed in more as the set continued, as they played their popular songs “Slowfade”, “If I Die”, and “The Sun”. The drummer was a highlight of the set, as the extra spice he put on their songs with extra fills, and by mixing up the beat, made everything so much more interesting. They ended their set with “Everything In Colour”, and received a joyful reaction from the audience, who appeared to enjoy themselves.

Next up was Melbourne rockers Public High. A new act for me, their dose of powerful rock was an interesting change of pace for the show. Their riff-heavy songs involved a whole lot of dancing and hair swinging and rounded out with catchy verses and choruses that planted a smile on the face of everyone watching. The vocalist was armed with a powerful sense of stage presence (and a powerful head of hair) and did not disappoint as he marched around the stage and unleashed his passionate vocals. They made sure everyone was good and warm for Ocean Grove.

The penultimate act of the night was the punk rock trio from Queensland, Something Something Explosion. Their classic punk sound was also an interesting addition to the bill and continues the sense of musical genre diversity that has been present throughout every support act so far. Moving around the stage as they played and making sure the crowd was awake, their high energy performance demonstrated just how coherent they are at playing their music. The pace changed dramatically however, when towards the end of their set the bass player left the stage, and the main vocalist/guitarist and the drummer performed their rendition of the popular Slipknot song “Snuff”. This was the chance for vocalist Grace Drummond to show her stuff, as her incredible vocal range tore Howler a new one. Hitting the high notes and absolutely nailing the cover, she did the song every ounce of justice she could have done, and had the crowd up in arms in support of this. Producing a gigantic amount of applause of cheering, this version of “Snuff” is something I am dying to hear again. They finished their set with bass player Daimon joining them back on stage, as they smashed through their final few minutes of goddamn good punk rock.

The room filled quickly as Ocean Grove were about to begin, and there was a noticeable buzz of excitement running through the room. The members made their way onto the stage as they began to play “Ask For The Anthem”. Dale was the last one to enter and immediately dived into the crowd. His charisma is immediately noticeable. His mesmerizing vocals, quirky stage attire (a checkered cropped jacket, a Black Flag shirt, and a kilt), and incredible stage presence make it impossible to be looking anywhere else. Massive singalongs and dancing are already a mainstay from the enthusiastic audience, and is unrelenting as they play through “Glass Gloss” and “Intimate Alien”. Standing still is impossible, and the big smile on Dale’s face makes sure there is a matching one on everyone watching.

The lineup change is unnoticeable, and if anything, they sound better than they have in the past. “Mr Centipede” has been a favorite of mine since the release of The Rhapsody Tapes, and seeing it performed at its peak was an absolute treat. And goddamn if that riff after the chorus doesn’t get me going every time I hear it!

Dedicating this one to the oddballs and the weirdos, “The Wrong Way”, is met with an orchestra of supporting vocals from the audience. You can tell how special this show is to everyone involved. Dale proceeds to mention the importance of this tour and this show in particular and says how cool it is to have everyone here that is still with them. This leads into a cover of “My People” by The Presets. The thought of how well this song matches the OG vibe had never crossed my mind, but now I was seeing it, it made perfect sense. Dale continued to dance all around the stage, spinning and twirling his way through the bass-heavy track. Making sure that the aforementioned smile is still present, he climbs the side of the stage and just about hangs off the ceiling as he finishes the song.

“Slow Soap Soak” gets everyone bouncing and covered in beer, and leads into a brand-new song. Bouncy and atmospheric, it appears to be a cool take on the new OG sound. Twiggy features heavily in backing vocals, and oh boy I can’t wait for this to be released. Another one of my favorites “Thunderdome” features loud singalongs and a whole lot of movement from the crowd. It has been so good hearing Dale’s renditions of these songs. He adds his own flavor to each of them, and it makes Ocean Grove sound better than ever. This takes them off stage for about a minute as they are immediately met with chants of “WE WANT TWIGGY”. A change up from the traditional “ONE MORE SONG” it is a humorous change of pace. Returning to the stage, Dale says that this will be their last song, and promises that there is new music coming in a matter of months. “Stratosphere Love” closes the night, and puts the full stop on the best Ocean Grove set I have ever seen.

Check out the slideshow below for images from the Ocean Grove show:

All photos by Albert LaMontagne. Copyright 2019 Albert LaMontagne / Sound the Sirens Magazine. Please do not use or distribute these images without the permission of Albert LaMontagne. If you use these images without permission, you are a terrible person.

Music

A Night with Northlane

Josh Hockey went to go see Northlane in Melbourne and took photographer Albert LaMontagne with him to capture the night.

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Northlane

Settling in to 170 Russell would have been nice, but as we stepped in at the allocated 6:30 door time we were greeted with the start of Void Of Vision’s set. Sprinting down the stairs and into the room, it was clear that moving the door time forward half an hour had definitely affected the crowd.

A decent audience had streamed in, but nowhere big enough considering the year Void Of Vision has had. Releasing their magnum opus album, Hyperdaze, they have been on an absolute tear, and it was clear during this set that they were going to keep going hard.

Opening up by bringing the heavy early, Void had the room shaking from the world go. An impressive light show and an almighty wall of sound filled the room with layers upon layers of adrenaline. Vocalist Jack Bergin led this assault, bringing as much energy as he possibly could, whilst utilising his seemingly endless amounts of stage presence.

New songs like “Babylon” and “Hole In Me” showcased their new sound, while “Kill All Your Friends” got the pit going like it always does. They finished strong with “Ghost In The Machine” and left their stamp on 170 Russell.

International act Silent Planet were up next. A pretty much completely new band to me, I was immediately impressed by the connection they appeared to have with their audience. From the word go, the pit was open, and everyone in the front few row was singing along with all the passion in the world.

Spoken word vocals mixed with harsh screams ensured that vocalist Garrett kept the audience on their toes. The instrumentals kept up this pace as well, with their hard hitting dark tones unrelentingly assaulting the ears of all listeners (in a good way).

Silent Planet sounded incredibly large all the way through, and definitely would have made themselves some new fans on the night. Their music appeared to be full of themes of mental illness, and political issues, which is absolutely super important in today’s societal climate.

Counterparts were up next. Definitely a well known band, the heavy Canadians immediately made clear the tone of the set announcing themselves with a call of, “Counterparts Schoolies Week Motherfucker.” They launched into their first song and it was immediately clear why they are as acclaimed as they are. Ridiculously tight and sounding stupidly massive, they had fans moving from the second they started playing.

The shit talking between sets would have been the highlight, but the songs themselves made it hard to top. Playing the old classics as well as the new heavy-hitters, there was as much two stepping as there was singing along. Also this was perhaps the first time in history I heard a pitcall of “schoolies 2019 motherfucker open it up,” which was an experience that I’m glad I had.

Dedicating a song to Australia’s very own Trophy Eyes, their massive sound continued unrelentingly. Coming towards the end, the set closed with a wave of crowdsurfers all diving and climbing towards the microphone, trying to get ahold of vocalist Brendan so they could scream his words right back at him. This set was great, and I’m quite sad I personally am not a Counterparts super fan so I couldn’t join in the fun. Next time boys. Next time.

Finally it was time for the big dogs, Northlane. The lights went down and hands went up, ready to go and awaiting the bands arrival impatiently, the audiences cravings would soon be met. Northlane charged onto stage and belted into “Talking Heads.” The movement was huge from the start, and the audience was off their feet and jumping non-stop all the way through.

“Details Matter” was a definite highlight of the set, with the ridiculously massive sound of one of the better songs of 2019 running rampant through 170 Russell. Headbangers were aplenty and moshers were in surplus. This continued even into one of their softer songs, “Rot.” The first song released by the band with vocalist Marcus Bridge, “Rot” went down an absolute treat as always.

Northlane are a ludicrously tight live band, and this became ever more clear as they smashed through “Citizen, “Obelisk”, and “4D.” New party song “Eclipse” had the room shaking as everyone refused to stop bouncing. The set began to come to a close as massive Alien single “Bloodline” was the definite highlight of the show. It has been one of my favourite songs of the year, and this rendition locked that in even more. Cannons and lights were ablaze and firing everywhere, and made this even more of a spectacle.

Leaving stage momentarily, Northlane returned as Marcus came back wearing a big sparkly coat. “Sleepless”, the closing track of the album was incredibly effective and touching live. And was a nice sombre end to the show, right before they launched into the timeless heavy classic, “Quantum Flux.” And goddamn was it massive.

Northlane are one of the best bands out there, and this show only locked that in.

Check out the images from the Northlane show:

All photos by Albert LaMontagne. Copyright 2019 Albert LaMontagne / Sound the Sirens Magazine. Please do not use or distribute these images without the permission of Albert LaMontagne. If you use these images without permission, you are a terrible person.

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Reviews

Crossed Keys – Saviors

Saviors shows the work of well-seasoned musicians finding new energy in old sounds

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Crossed Keys Saviors

Philadelphia’s Crossed Keys are an interesting intersection between melodic hardcore and punk, taking an earnest approach to the sound that made its way from the underground in the late 90s and early 2000s. This relatively new outfit is the result of Kid Dynamite and Samiam in a blender- in the best way possible. The Kid Dynamite influence may be a given since Crossed Eyes features KD’s drummer Dave Wagenschutz, but the band’s pedigree also includes members of bands like Zolof the Rock & Roll Destroyer and The Curse, all backing the melancholic vocal work of frontman Joshua Alvarez (Halo of Snakes). So while Crossed Keys are somewhat new, its members have been cutting their teeth within their respective circles for years, and their new EP Saviors shows the work of well-seasoned musicians finding new energy in old sounds.

Saviors is backboned by the furious urgency and energy that Kid Dynamite showed through their history, but while Jason Shevchuk’s vocals were beautifully abrasive, Alvarez takes a more restrained, wistful approach to singing. Songs like the opening “Times of Grace” are musically up-tempo percussions and razor-sharp guitars, but are buoyed by Alvarez’s more melodic vocals. His vocals rest at a good place between Samiam’s Jason Beebout and that NYHC tone exhibited by bands like Token Entry and Grey Area. In songs like “R.J.A” and the closing title track, Crossed Keys find more success with their brand of blistering speed meets harmony- slowing down only for the kind of melancholic punk that made Samiam a noted name. While much of Saviors is built on pace, it wasn’t always this way for the band. In fact, their 2017 EP, I’m Just Happy That You’re Here, leans closer to Samiam than it does to Kid Dynamite (the song “Jeff Pelly vs. The Empire” is particularly fantastic), so there’s been an uptick of urgency with Saviors.

For fans of any of the aforementioned bands here, there is plenty to like with Crossed Keys and plenty to like in Saviors. It’s succinct, to the point, but filled with ample reflection and exploration that gives the EP depth and resonance. Any band that has found influence from Kid Dynamite is most certainly OK by us (this site is named after a KD song after all), but Crossed Keys does more than just tip their cap. This one’s a really good one, and worth your time.

(Hellminded Records)

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