Before I get into this show, I need to admit two things. First, yes, I’m a bad reviewer because I rocked up late and only saw the last two bands. Second, I’m also a stupid, stupid man who, despite my relentless assertation that all people are idiots, blindly trusted a bored, oblivious box office employee. You know, the kind that, in the words of Terry Prachett, is thin and blonde and has the happy, vacant smile of someone who knows only that she is thin and blonde?
So my good friend Chris and I drove from Sydney to the small surfing town of Towradgi, just outside of Wollongong to see Iowan metalcorians For Today. We went to what we assumed was the correct venue and handed our tickets in. They ostensibly examined them thoroughly for any kind of fraudulence and let us in. About five minutes in, we noticed that a) the support band were hilariously stereotypical punks (they had the whole mohawk, piercings, leather, and copious use of the f-bomb – it was a band comprised entirely of the punk from The Young Ones, basically), b) there were no For Today shirts ANYWHERE and c) nobody here was under the age of 30.
We walked back to the door, asking when For Today would be on (because by this stage we’d pretty much assumed that we’d come to the wrong venue) and the fatuous bint running the stall said, “oh, I don’t know any of the bands. I know that Bodyjar are on at 9pm” and we go “Bodyjar? Crap. We’re at the wrong venue. We are going to need our tickets back, ma’am.”
“Oh no, I can’t do that.”
“…um, but – what? – but you have to! Those tickets aren’t even for this venue! Did you not read the damn ticket?!”
“No, and I already tore them up.”
Some angry words were directed at this stupid woman, which attracted the attention of security. Luckily, he sided with us and tried to get our tickets back, too, but apparently they were destroyed beyond repair, the pieces presumably having been burned and scattered to the winds.
So a few minutes and some frantic Google mapping later, we arrived at the correct venue 800 metres down the road. That a small surfing town could not only have two venues within such close proximity to each other but could also have two alternative music lineups ON THE SAME NIGHT seems improbable at best, but, well, here we are.
Anyway, we finally got there and the dude at the door was really cool about how stupid we were. He accepted the email confirmation as proof of purchase and we got in just in time for Prepared Like a Bride, all the way from the Gold Coast.
They’re awesome. Heaps of energy, their music is fun to listen to (djent, breakdowns and sing-alongs is a good formula) and frontman Ryan Bowles just drips genuine, earnest conviction. His speeches demonstrated that the dude has seen way too much death. He spoke about losing several of his friends to suicide, the death of his father in a plane crash and how his faith in Jesus has dragged him through these hard times was really cool, especially given that the show was on Good Friday. They got a huge rise out of the crowd, too, with frenzied moshing and human towers forming because hell yes. Finishing with the title track of their new LP, Overcomer, I saw a tonne of extra PLAB shirts floating around after their set.
You know what rules? A venue bar that serves hot chips. Magnificent eating facilities, although their website does mention that they cater for weddings. Take away from that what you will. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaanyway, For Today hit the stage hard with “Break the Cycle”. Mattie Montgomery is a huge dude, and an even bigger personality. A fiercely intelligent man, he spoke at length about his philosophical position and the status of the Church in manipulating the religious text to maintain a subservient flock, and that the Jesus he knows is a Jesus of love. He offered to meet up with anyone who was interested in talking more and offered to help them meet Christ that very night, “or just chill out, you know, whatever. You’re all fearfully and wonderfully made.”
For Today then proceeded to play “Foundation” and “Seraphim”, before Montgomery informed us that it was bassist Brandon Leitru’s birthday, asking us to sing happy birthday to him. “Do y’all have a different happy birthday song here? No? Cool! Let’s do this!” So we all sang happy birthday and For Today kicked into “Fearless” and “Arm the Masses”. Montgomery then wished us all a Happy Easter before announcing that it was time for the last song and I was a little confused. Even PLAB got 30 minutes. Why are you guys calling full time when you started perfectly on time and have only played for 20? #frustratedgurglingnoises
Anyway, of course it was “Devastator”, but I didn’t really have time to enjoy it because some fat douchebag in a bulging waist coat came over into the ‘I’m on the side because I don’t want to mosh’ section and kicked me right in the shoulder. Then he came back, so I tried to push him away before he really hurt someone and ‘accidentally’ elbowed him in the side of the head. Shame. Don’t be an arse next time, fatso.
Anyway, the night wrapped up with Chris and me talking at length to Montgomery about his philosophical views. As I said earlier, he is a fiercely intelligent man with a real heart for Jesus and a penchant for brevity. He basically summed his whole theological view up in three sentences: “It’s all about love, man. Even when I have to hold one of my friends accountable for their actions, it’s because I love them and want them to be better than those actions. I want them to rise above their actions and not be defined by them.”
Amen, brother. Happy Easter, everyone!