The atmosphere at Billboard on Friday was electric with the excited tension that only punk-rock can deliver, the dark room packed from side to side with the eager faces of bearded metal-heads and ecstatic hardcore kids alike. This was a classic hardcore show with energy, aggression and two heavyweights of heavy music.
The stoner-doom, riff driven madness of Old Man Gloom held the crowd for a solid hour, from opening with Gift to the loosely song-based jam session that concluded their performance. It was a band of four front men, each taking turns as the highlighted element in an incredibly talented group. The vocal duties were split between three people, while guitarists Nate Newton and Aaron Turner evenly shared lead duties, each unique and impressive in their own right. The band are essentially a recording project supergroup, but their live performance wouldn’t suggest this. The dark droning backing tracks – essential to some of the band’s songs – were seamlessly woven into the fabric of their live show, and their level of competence and togetherness on-stage was enthralling. Hot Salvation was perfect.
Over the past 20 years, Converge have set themselves apart from all other bands in the ‘heavy-music’ range of genres, fusing hardcore, metal and thrash with frantic energy and innate tightness in both recorded and live scenarios. Their show was aggressive, blisteringly fast and entirely intense: the living example of the legacy they’ve built over the past two decades. Their set primarily drew from 2009’s Axe To Fall and 2012’s All We Love We Leave Behind, which may have disappointed their older fan base, but it’s unfair to expect a band that have been so consistently good throughout their development and progression to be confined to their original works. The precision and emotive playing of guitarist Kurt Ballou was incredible to watch, and Bannon’s onstage-aura coupled with the technical complexity and loose lunacy of Newton and Koller is an impressive experience. From start to finish, Converge were as chaotic as they were brilliant.
Over the course of the night the sound was consistent and well-balanced, at its strongest for Converge, while the only small complaint that could be made was that the volume was slightly too-loud for Old Man Gloom, but it’s hard to complain about stoner-doom-sludge being too loud. The security team at Billboard were typically over-cautious, but relatively understanding of the nature of hardcore crowds. This was a good night for Converge fans. If you weren’t there, you missed out.
BY JEREMY MILLAR
LOVED: Long, well planned sets.
HATED: The wait at the bar.
DRANK: VB and Jameson.