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THE AMITY AFFLICTION // North Meets South East

The Amity Affliction ‘Death To Misery’ tour – Chelsea Heights Hotel, 4th February 2017

Suddenly Chelsea Heights Hotel has become the place to be for premium gigs. They only just had Parkway bloody Drive here a few months ago and now Ocean Grove, Hellions AND The Amity Affliction? That’s a lineup worthy of braving all the broken bottle necks on the floor for.

Ocean Grove have somewhat of an album launch show for The Rhapsody Tapes to kick the night off and as they enter to brooding club track From Dalight, there’s a slight sense of bewilderment in the room. It’s hard to remember sometimes that there are people out there who heard their first OG track literally last week as triple j’s feature album. Baptising them in a weird purple glow, These Boys Light Fires thrusts the Odd World right into the virgin ears of those double parking CC and Drys. One lad exclaims to his mate, “I’ve got no bloody clue what’s going on up there but I fucking love it!” That’s about how we feel when Intimate Alien’s bass punches through and has the evening’s first crowd surfer making their way over. It’s a nice touch for vocalist Luke Holmes, usually on scream duty, to harmonise with bassist Dale Tanner during I Told You To Smile. Drummer Sam Bassal still manages to impress with his frantic drum fills, and guitarist Matt Henley’s whirlwind head banging almost reaches the hands up high in the front row. Holmes reminisces about the fact they played their first show down the road at The Pelly in Frankston to about 10 people, and how appreciative they are about an entire room showing up to see them play. OG are damn worth it, as shown when Lights On Kind Of Lover has a circle pit erupting. Their merch line never ceases throughout the entire gig.

Whatever’s happened with Hellions in recent months needs to be sorted out. Their show at the Evelyn – which we raved over – seems to have been a once off because their performance is severely lacking. The venue’s sound isn’t perfect to begin with, but the multiple vocals that are so key in opener Quality of Life and He Without Sin aren’t co-ordinated at all. With four vocals at once, it turns into a giant mess that doesn’t match with their latest record’s perfect blend.

Even with a barebones light production Amity are still able to create a show worthy of watching every second.

We’ve seen them nail it before, and drummer Anthony Caruso is a highlight during Lotus Eater. Even the off-kilter-to-begin-with Hellions still doesn’t hit as hard as it usually does and it’s supposed to sound that way. Guitarist Matt Gravolin usually hits hard during his vocal performance but is strangely out of key for most of the evening. It doesn’t help that Dre Faivre’s lower register screams replace the varied yells of his recording counterpart, and the crowd of clean vocal lovers refuse to budge an inch. Limping through 24 to Thresher, the closer at least manages to bring some good will back by sounding… okay? It’s hard to see a band so lauded for their energy and skill take such a misstep, so hopefully their next trip down will have the kinks worked out.

Say what you will about The Amity Affliction turning into a hit machine rather than a band. But when it’s a machine as well oiled as they are, who even cares? Not this crowd, who lap up opener I Bring The Weather With Me. Even with a barebones light production Amity are still able to create a show worthy of watching every second. Backing tracks may feature heavily in their set, but guitarist Dan Brown uses his down time wisely with backup vocals more often than not. Vocalist Joel Birch has brought a spring back into his step in recent months and his energy rivals even bassist Ahren Stringer’s. Both singers’ vocals have improved so significantly that they hardly need the crowd to back them up. Special props to Stringer, whose death growls have only gone from strength to strength as he backs up Birch’s higher screams. Of course, Open Letter and All Fucked Up show that they could take a breather now and then with the audience taking any opportunity to show their appreciation. Lost and Fading has them bouncing in unison; bottles are dropped and heads are kicked by eager crowd surfers. Death’s Hand doesn’t see as much participation, but that’s to be expected when the band’s fanbase are hardly the pit warriors they were a decade ago.

Saving their best one-two punch for the encore, an outstretched mic stand from Birch allows enterprising punters to reach up and open Pittsburgh. 2 years on from its release, it still stands as one of the band’s best tracks. Closing with Don’t Lean On Me which serves as a cue for the females of the audience to have their time smashing lads in the face with their shoes for once. This Could Be Heartbreak closes the evening, and it’s a nice moment even if it is one of the band’s soppier tracks. Still one of the most solid acts we have around, Amity have their show down to a fine art. Whether they choose to coast at a high level or attempt to go even further is up to them.


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