Cancer Bats w/ Mary Jane Kelly & In Trenches at the Annandale Hotel in Sydney, Australia on September 15, 2010.
Being an over-18′s event in a small pub venue, the vibe coming in to the concert was rather mellow. Sans teenage scene kids, the audience stood casually waiting for the bands, beer in hand, and with a noticeably higher ratio of beards than all-ages events.
The mood of the room for the first support act, Mary Jane Kelly, was polite. A few nodded in time with the music, but I felt maybe they were a little too generous. The band was passable hardcore, the generic sort that seems to be churned out of the east coast of Australia. Their guitarist, admittedly, was a solid performer, but their music was let down by their untrained vocalist. He seemed incredibly out of breath the entire set, focusing more on jumping around the stage and climbing on amps than, you know, giving any kind of depth to his growls. This made their music disappointingly forgettable.
When In Trenches began playing, the crowd warmed up more. Opening with an ambient instrumental, they managed to combine ball-crushing brutality with sweeping moments of beautiful breakdowns. In Trenches is more-or-less I Killed the Prom Queen, sans Michael Crafter. And let me tell you, they’re much better for it. Their frontman had effortlessly captivating stage presence, as well as managing excellent vocal depth for a live performance. His stage presence was far less contrived than the Mary Jane Kelly frontman, making the performance visually enjoyable to watch.I guess its just an unspoken rule of hardcore that you have to have one shit support act and one solid one…
By far the true star of the show though was the headline act, Cancer Bats. These boys know how to perform. The crowd immediately responded to their arrival on stage; headbanging, moshing, pit-dancing. While his vocals were only just audible above the guitar, frontman Liam Cormier had demanding stage presence. He was by no means carrying the band though; guitarist Scott Middleton was trully the understated star of the show. It was his riffs and breakdowns driving the music, and of course, the moshing.
There is truly no denying that the Cancer Bats are a fun band. They aren’t pretentious; their music itself is fairly simple. But it’s fast, its punchy and it has a refreshing concentration on rhythm in a time where hardcore seems to be focusing on unrelenting brutality of sound.
After the show, the band were very approachable, the lead singer jumping into the crowd to shake hands with the crowd. This kind of thing doesn’t happen enough: bands are either too conceited to mingle with the plebs or too concerned that the under 18′s will mob them/have a mental breakdown & shit their pants.
The unspoken rules of hardcore were upheld, people focusing more on having fun than punching the shit out of each other like at some hardcore concerts I could talk about *cough* Parkway Drive *cough*. I think the excellent atmosphere of the mosh can be attributed to the psyche of Cancer Bats fans and the lack of pretension the band’s music endears. Sure there were a few toolish old farts who had something to prove by smacking the younger guys in the pit, but by and large, the atmosphere of the room and the music itself were what hardcore is all about. Fun without regrets.
All in all: don’t be an idiot. Go see the Cancer Bats because they’re awesome.