It was a cool September night in Melbourne. The footy finals traffic was everywhere and in a pub on the corner in Fitzroy, The Brave were getting set for kicking off their Ethereal tour as well as the weekend with a heavy start. The Workers Club is a smaller venue than those around Melbourne but the intimacy that it brings is one you can’t get in many other settings. A bar and merchandise to the side and a small, unguarded stage is all that’s required for tonight.
Kicking off the night was Melbournians Thornhill. Having a swap of set times with tonight’s one off supporter Ocean Sleeper to start the night; their heavy riffs with smooth vocals gave everyone the vibe of the night ahead. The 5-piece band was also visibly down a member as well for an unknown reason. Playing their new single ‘Limbo’ as well as some of their older tracks, there were a lot of people at the venue discovering Thornhill for the first time. Lead vocalist Jacob Charlton had a better sound with the harsher sound than his soft melodic vocals and had a lot more control with it too. It was a quick twenty minute set for the band but for an up and coming band like Thornhill, it will be good to see how they sound after a few years.
The night’s one-off support Ocean Sleeper from Gippsland, Victoria started off with a pit opening straight away. After the rained out opening set to Unify Festival 2017, we got the set they wanted to put on. It may have been The Brave headlining the night but Ocean Sleeper brought their dedicated fan base with them. The dual vocals of Karl and Ionei complement each other so well on stage. Having had their latest EP Six Feet Down coming out earlier this year, they finished their twenty minute set with the title track. Easily the heaviest song on their set and absolutely incredible when done live. The fans were hyped and wishing for more. For having only formed back in 2015, the name and fan base are rapidly growing and the sound is getting bigger and better each time they perform.
Stepson from Brisbane hit the stage hard. With only drummer Geordie Timmins illuminated by the stage lights, the rest of the band were only silhouettes. It’s hard to tell if it was on purpose or if it was a lighting problem but it gave a more dramatic feel to the already emotion packed sound they were producing. After finishing their starting song, they had a quick break to get an amp back up and running hut it didn’t stop then putting in all they had to get the crowd around the stage and enjoying the show that was being put on. With Borck Conry leading the way, it was definitely the deepest and heaviest set of the night so far. It was a shame it was such a small venue as what they put on is easily a crazy mosh fest of a set. The inner mosh lover in me had to resort to only headbanging along and wishing more could be done. Conry invited up any fan to sing-along with ‘Never Mind Me’ and had some fans in the front row go crazy and jump in for an opportunity to be heard. With the day before being R U OK? day, Stepson dedicated the song ‘Blue’ to all those with mental health issues and to point out that no one is alone and there is always support. The emotion from the band during ‘Blue’ is raw and is something that sits with the band deeply. If you haven’t heard of Stepson and like music that’s hard, fast and raw, either catch them on this tour or listen to their catalogue because you will not be disappointed. I know I’m not.
After a belting of ‘The Voice’ by Australian icon John Farnham by the crowd, it was time for the headliner for the night, Brisbane’s The Brave. It started fast and the floor was filled. The mosh pit had opened and people were moving. There was even the odd failed crowdsurf. They were here to make their mark and give the people what they came for plus some. Their latest single ‘Ethereal’ had obviously become a fan favourite and, as good as the studio recording sounds, the way it sounds live sounded better and even got the circle pit happening by the end. Vocalist Nathan Toussaint had control of the night and wanted the crowd to go wild. There are always the ones at the back there to enjoy and watch. Those up the front of stage though had the time of their lives and when Toussaint said jump, they jumped. Playing a mixture of songs from their 2014 EP Endless and 2016 album Epoch, it was a good time for long time fans of The Brave. Half way through the set, the feel slowed a bit to give a breather to the band with ‘Wake Me Up’. It was a welcome breather to all those upfront as well who swayed along before jumping back into the insanity.
The best thing about small, intimate venues is the ability to get up-close and personal with the band and the band acknowledging the crowd and how crazy they are going for them. The Brave soaked this up with getting the crowd to sing into the mic and even standing and having a laugh at how big the pit got with how small an area there was. As amazing as their set was back in January at Unify Festival, being this close had made this show more enjoyable. Finishing the set with ‘Bright Eyes’, it was a fun way to hit encore.
With one more song to go on the proviso that everyone pushed forward on the band’s demand, they had a quick jam before launching into ‘Searchlights’’. A Clear crowd and fan favourite by far and with the crowd singing loud and proud, it brought an end to the crazy and insane in a way that had the most energy and fun for everyone.
With two more shows in the Ethereal tour along the east coast with Sydney and Brisbane as the next shows, support live music at your local and take the time to see them, even if you’ve never heard them before.
Photos by Andrew Basso of Electrum Photography
See more of Andrew’s work at www.electrumphotography.com