Melbourne’s own Rocky Waters Promotions have been working tirelessly to bring exposure to artists in the local heavy music scene; the up-and-coming and locally renowned alike. With the scene predominately revolving around 18+ shows at licensed venues, it’s refreshing to see doors opening for All Ages events also. Youth make up a significant portion of music consumption, and it’s important to include them in the live music scene; after all it’s more often than not that music passions are founded in years of youth and carry on throughout adulthood. You might recall being a frustrated teen yourself; waiting for shows to pop up that you could actually attend. Given that it’s vital to the music industry as a whole for the newer generations to be active and keep it alive, it seems like a no-brainer to present opportunities for kids and teens to get involved early. This past Saturday the folks at Wrangler Studios in Footscray opened their doors to host such an opportunity for an All Ages drug and alcohol free afternoon of metal. For those who aren’t familiar, Wrangler is a hearty little upstairs band room situated amongst warehouses. The interior has a funky vibe; with the stage situated along the back wall which is also decorated by a black and white backdrop artwork of wolves in snow, and an eye-catching purple holographic “Wrangler” logo (not to mention the air conditioner’s convenient stage location). There is also a cosy little couch area for those who prefer to sit, and this area is also decorated by an artwork feature wall of vultures and a zebra. A kitchenette also provides availability of beverages and cheap snacks for the peckish punter.
The afternoon commenced at 2:10pm with Nerve Endings opening the line-up. The hardcore/metalcore fusion out of Melbourne’s South Eastern suburbs took the stage for another addition to their first handful of shows. Vocalist Jesse Alan took to the crowd with confidence and ease; moving onto the floor standing area in front of the stage and thrusting himself around in full utilization of the space, whilst he delivered his vocal performance amidst headbanging and stomping. He wasted no time in commanding the audience to “get the fuck up!” as he pounced into aggressive screams that would also shift into clean melodics. A crowd of 30 or so early-bird punters were evenly dispersed across the room, standing stationary yet banging their heads and clapping in approval after songs; a more mellow crowd reception than I am accustomed to witnessing at the 18+ shows, but positive none the less. The band would jump in unison at points, particularly during breakdown and blast beat sections; providing a further burst of energy to their overall performance.
Next in line around 2:50pm were The Chaotic Borderline; a metalcore band out of Sydney. Vocalist Matt Jackson left the mic no time to cool off, giving it a solid thrashing with all of his might as he jumped and stomped around the stage; at times using stage boxes like an extended platform. He would also scream towards the floor and pan across the crowd with erratic sways from left to right. The crowd were requested to “take a step in”, to which they happily obliged. Instrumentally their sound encompassed eerie resonant howling shreds and gritty chugging riffs accompanied by punctuating booms and crashes. A highlight of their set included the appearance of Monica Strut (ex-Vanity Riots) who performed guest vocals for the track “Superimpose”. Her vocal style could be comparable to that of Melbourne’s own feisty ex-Bellusira songstress Crystal Ignite. Another highlight was a brief rendition of the chorus to “The Voice” by John Farnham which sparked some playful dancing amongst a few members of the crowd. Jackson also humbly invited the crowd to “check us out on Facebook, our music is all free, help yourselves”.
Brisbane melodic groove metal outfit Kold Creature were up next around 3:30pm. The four piece boast a sound blended of metalcore elements (particularly vocally), punk-like rhythms, ambient guitar echoes and deep grimy bass tones. As I listened to them glide through shifts in tempo and time signature contrasting between soft slowed melodics and hard hitting fast paced sections, a plethora of hints towards big name bands sprung to mind. These included (but weren’t limited to) Linkin Park with vocal contrasts, and Metallica, Tool and Slipknot in instrumental tones (their newest single “Edge of Gravity” being a good example). Crowd members gathered to the stage front as vocalist Chris Ross stood at the edge of the stage’s centre whilst bassist Patrick Stevens stood atop the right stage box. Stevens and guitarist Lyndon Bauer would headbang and windmill in unison, building momentum amidst atmospheric builds in tension. Ross joked to the crowd at one point “they say it’s hot in Queensland; fuck, I swear it’s hotter here!” as well as a light-hearted comment to buy a sticker as they were in need of fuel money.
As the afternoon began to shift into evening, Warnambool’s The Ascended were due to hit the stage at 4:15pm but things had fallen a bit behind schedule throughout the day; meaning there was around a 30 minute delay in set times towards the end. However, this did little to impact on neither the day’s events nor the general spirit present inside the venue. The band unfortunately also experienced some minor technical difficulties during their set, but they handle it with utmost professionalism; ensuring their performance carried on as smoothly as possible. Guitarist Corey Verhaegh charmed the audience with his charismatic stage presence and eccentric body language, both to his bandmates and members of the crowd. Bassist Braden Dawson also engaged the crowd with ease; nodding his head in a boss-like fashion whilst making direct eye contact with individual crowd members as he grooved along to depth of his bass. At one point Dawson and vocalist Mat Wale simultaneously turned to face the backdrop mid-performance which added dramatic effect. One thing I’ve come to notice about Wale is that when he commands an audience to ‘bang your fucking heads” it pretty instantaneously livens up the activity within it. Furthermore he went on to inform the crowd that they “have two simple rules; if you’re sitting down you stand the fuck up, and if you’re standing up you take a couple of steps forward” I’ve yet to see a crowd fail to respond accordingly, and this one was no exception. They played a selection of hits such as “The Cleansing” “Strike of the Monarch” and “To War” (before which the crowd were invited to ‘go to war’ as their soldiers). Wale also nobly encouraged punters to purchase merch; if not their own to support the interstate bands that had travelled to play for them.
Finally it was time for renowned local Melbourne death groove legends Cryptic Abyss; carrying the event through until around 6:00pm due to the delay in schedule. Despite the lack of “cracking tinnies” Calvin Cobby and the lads brought their A-game and a select bunch of their most dedicated 18+ fans to follow. The beautiful thing about that was when they respectfully started a mosh pit amongst themselves, a few of the more enthusiastic younger crowd members sparked up and got in on the action. Cobby himself also got down amongst the mosh, and invited crowd members to belt out lyrics into the mic. They played a set of classic tracks; including highlights such as “Rusty Knife” (which Cobby joked was “a bit of a banger, they play it at Cloud Nine often”), “Murder of Crows” (introduced as “being about crows pecking your eyes out and shit”) and “Let’s Get Smashed” (which Cobby addressed the audience to say “…on cordial of course kiddies!”) The man might seemingly be a stranger to censorship, but certainly not humour. Things concluded in high spirits after a performance of “Reduced to Bones” caused the crowd to split the pit for a wall of death that left grins on the faces of all involved, not to mention the climactic breakdown finale.
All in all it shaped up to be an exciting afternoon, and a good example for other local bands to get involved in the underage scene if they haven’t already done so. Each band also made a point of thanking Matt Barton for his efforts with Rocky Waters Promotions to make such an event happen. If you happen to be an underage heavy music fan we at Overdrive suggest that you keep an eye out for future Rocky Waters events as there no doubt will be further All Ages shows to follow!