Day two of my gigging weekend, and I treated myself to DevilDriver and Whitechapel with my good friend Rachel. We would have been enjoying Brisbane’s Aversions Crown too, but the line into the venue was ridiculous and the band were forced to start as soon as doors opened. By the time we got in the door (and, please bear in mind that we were there before they opened), we literally heard “Thank you very much Sydney, enjoy your evening!” and they were done. So yeah. Pretty standard behaviour from the HiFi, but I really hoped that tonight would be different. Mind you, this is the same venue that kicked The Chariot off stage after ten minutes because they were trying to drag their drum kit onto the floor, so perhaps my optimism was unfounded.
Anyway, Whitechapel were up next. On their first Australian tour since Soundwave 2010, they were out to make a statement and while I think their new album is utter garbage (with the exception of ‘The Saw Is the Law’), they are damn good performers with a killer live show. Opening with the predictable one-two punch of ‘Rise’ and ‘Our Endless War’, they followed it up with ‘Section 8’ and ‘Faces’, two of my personal favourites off their 2012 self-titled opus. Rachel and I had never seen them live before (they clashed with The Almost and Four Year Strong at SW 2010), and we were very impressed. They played a good mix of old and new (A New Era of Corruption being omitted entirely, but hey, that record’s shit house anyway), with their breakout singles ‘This Is Exile’ and ‘Possession’ and even ‘Vicer Exiser’ and ‘Prostatic Fluid Asphyxiation’ from The Somatic Defilement. May I be the first to say thank God they got over those stupid song and album titles.
Anyway, they played hard, with Phil Bozeman showing that despite his diminutive stature, he is still one of the angriest looking dudes out there. They were tight as hell and energetic in their performance, but the mix was absolute garbage. Way too loud and too high in the treble. It was really awful, and it did let them down a little bit. Finishing with their best song, ‘Possibilities of an Impossible Existence’, they impressed both of us and I’ll definitely go see them again if they come back.
Of course, the main event were Australia’s favourite adopted metal band, DevilDriver. They were only here six months ago for Soundwave, but they still managed to pull about a thousand people to their show. That’s a solid effort, and they gave the punters their money’s worth from the word go, opening with ‘End of the Line’ and proceeding to play an intense set of old fan favourites. These guys know that no one cares about Pray For Villains or Beast, and while Winter Kills is probably their best album, the fans aren’t paying to hear ‘Tripping Over Tombstones’ or ‘Oath of the Abyss’. They want to hear ‘I Could Care Less’, ‘Clouds Over California’ and ‘Meet the Wretched’, and Dez Fafara & Co. know that too.
That’s not to say that Winter Kills didn’t get any love. ‘Gutted’, ‘Ruthless’ and ‘Sail’, their AWOLNATION cover, all made appearances, but the night was basically a greatest hits set. Unfortunately, if the mix was irritating for Whitechapel, it was devastating for DevilDriver. I think the sound guy just turned everything up as far as it would go. I’m writing this at 5pm the next day and my ears still hurt really badly, and going to gigs is my part-time job. However, the mix didn’t hide the fact that DevilDriver are very good at what they do, and what they do is bring the headbang.
They didn’t play an encore but ‘Meet the Wretched’ is the best song they’ve ever written (or ever will write, for that matter), and to be honest, an encore would have felt gratuitous. I also got the impression that Dez just doesn’t give a shit anymore when he said that Brisbane were louder than Sydney, and then didn’t mention it again. Bands normally try to get the crowd to compete with other cities so they can tell the crowd that they’re actually the best. There was no such thing here, Dez was just telling us that Brisbane made us look soft. Honestly though, that’s my favourite kind of frontman. If I wanted to hear some androgynous shit head talk about how this is the best crowd they’ve ever played for, I’d go to Warped Tour or a Sleeping With Sirens show. That’s basically everything DevilDriver aren’t, and thank God for that.
End of the Line
Head on to Heartache (Let Them Rot)
Not All Who Wander Are Lost
Before the Hangman’s Noose
I Could Care Less
Sail (AWOLNATION cover)
Hold Back the Day
Dead to Rights
Clouds Over California
Meet the Wretched