Rhianna Brims and Troy Vodanovic ventured into Metro City on Friday night for a wild performance by east-coast hardcore heavyweights, Northlane and In Hearts Wake.
Northlane and In Hearts Wake kicked off the first leg of their super-powered Equinox Tour with a banging night at Metro City, supported by up-and-comers Ocean Grove and Canberra rock band Hands Like Houses. The audience avidly reflected the high energy of the performers, head banging and bouncing around to the killer tunes.
Ocean Grove opened the set with ‘B.L.U.D’. and ‘I Told You To Smile’. The crowd, despite still being small in number, warmed up quickly to the band. The performers definitely did not lack in personality; the bassist sported a green head and steam punk goggles, one of the guitarists went shirtless, the other wore overalls, while frontman Luke Holmes stalked the stage in stark white sneakers. Between every song he stopped to tell us about how grateful they were for such a crowd, for the opportunity to tour with Northlane, and for everyone coming on out for live music.
He seemed to be laying it on a bit thick but was totally working the crowd like a pro, and the music was awesome to boot. ‘You Know Something We Don’t’ marked the halfway point, followed by ‘Strange Talk,’ which featured a killer rap from the lead vocalist, rhythmically on point and unexpectedly tying in so well with the metal backdrop. The crowd was totally electric by the time Ocean Grove wrapped up.
Hands Like Houses was sort of the odd one out, edging more towards rock than metal, though the crowd still showed huge appreciation for their music, happy to rock on to the sharp beat and catchy vocals. The group mostly featured favourites from their latest album, opening with ‘I Am’, ‘Colourblind ‘and ‘New Romantics’. Somewhat less chatty (though no less engaging) than Ocean Grove, Hands Like Houses still maintained a casual rapport with the audience. They made their performance appear effortless, without missing a beat or putting on the brakes for the entirety of the set. The monochrome lighting added a dramatic atmosphere to the stage. They continued with ‘Glasshouse’ and ‘Stillwater’, before pausing for frontman Trenton Woodley to discuss the message of ‘Perspectives’; a tune about everyone believing they’re right and struggling to see eye to eye, a poignant insight into modern society. Hands Like Houses closed the set with ‘Introduced Species’, a track from their latest album Dissonants.
When In Hearts Wake finally arrived on stage, the crowd instantly ignited for them, lead vocalist Jake Taylor demanding that the crowd start jumping along with him. They opened with ‘Earthwalker’, the title track of their 2014 album.
They continued with tunes from the same release, following with ‘Healer’ and ‘Sacred’. At this point they sent a short guy toting a rainbow sombrero and poncho into the crowd on a wooden horse for a turn of so-called ‘rodeo roundup’. They had the crowd moshing and revolving around the horseman to the sound of ‘Afterglow’. They calmed the crowd for ‘Wildflower’, calling for people to hold up their lights. The audience obliged and passionately sang along to the chorus. This was a sombre, perfectly placed shakeup, providing balance to the rest of the set, before concluding with ‘Divine’.
The equipment for both headliners had been set up side-by-side on stage so when In Hearts Wake wrapped up after what felt like quite a short set, Northlane rolled on to the stage without pause, maintaining the ecstatic hype of the crowd; from there the energy only intensified. Northlane opened with ‘Dispossession’ and ‘Rot’. From the get go these guys were switched on, the drums, bass and guitars all perfectly balanced, the music working harmoniously to showcase the extreme vocals so prevalent in metalcore. They followed with ‘Leech’, ‘Dream Awake’ and ‘Quantum Flux’. The tracks, despite being pulled from two different albums, flowed seamlessly, a testament to the band’s fine-tuning and clear vision.
Without missing a beat, In Heart’s Wake returned to the stage, this time performing tracks from their newest album, Skydancer and Breakaway, as well as featuring Survival from their older album, Divination. The bands then swapped again, with Northlane returning to perform ‘Obelisk and Masquerade’. Giant green balloons were launched into the crowd and Luke Holmes returned to the stage to showcase the rap skills he’d given us a glimpse of earlier. It tied in unexpectedly well, something very different but very fun. It was a testament to the bond the bands obviously were forming on this tour.
The alternation of the two groups built a sort of suspense, hyping the crowd for the epic final act that everyone had been waiting for. Hype continued to build as a giant Equinox logo was projected onto the backdrop.
Despite having been on the edge for nearly four hours, the crowd still managed to take it up another level for the dual performance of Equinox. This finale was ten minutes of awesome music, showcasing all the different levels of the performers. ‘Refuge’ had the entire audience singing along to the chorus, poised with anticipation every time the beat dropped into “welcome to mayhem”. Equinox was almost calming and instrumentally perfect, before ‘Hologram’ finished the night. As the final piece of the set, this was almost a combination of the first two pieces, the energy and finesse of ‘Refuge’ with the instrumental clarity and harmony of ‘Hologram’.
The combination of Northlane and In Hearts Wake was managed flawlessly. Even with so many people and sounds on stage, nothing felt forced or over the top. The team on stage genuinely looked like they were having fun making such mad music together and this really made it a fun and memorable night for the audience.