Bring Me The Horizon Are An Arena Act, But Sydney Didn’t Show Up
Bring Me the Horizon were born ready for arenas – it's up to the rest of us to catch up to them now.
The last time Frank Carter was performing in Australian arenas, it was under hostile and contentious circumstances.
His band at the time, cut-throat UK hardcore crew Gallows, were on the 2007 Taste of Chaos lineup and arguably the only ones providing a legitimate taste. Audiences hated them, and they hated the audience. Sunrise, sunset.
When Carter emerges on stage tonight as one of Bring Me The Horizon’s openers at Sydney’s Qudos Bank Area, however, he’s a total people-pleaser – entirely on his own terms, too. He’s at the helm of Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, who have blended a mix of alt-rock and post-hardcore to give Carter a freedom to explore his own musical terrain.
Within minutes, Carter is out among the crowd – he stands atop them, and then performs a handstand. Later, he gets a circle pit going – one that goes around the entire arena floor. He’s the kind of frontman who says jump and you say how high – figuratively, in one instance, where he enacts Slipknot’s tried-and-true “crazy test” during ‘Devil Inside Me.’ With a promise to be back by the year’s end, it’s great to see Carter at a point where he can dial back his belligerence without sacrificing any boisterous energy.
No-one’s quite sure what to make of You Me at Six. The Surrey natives have never quite settled on a musical motif, ranging from their pop-punk early days to the more mainstream rock leanings of later records, and then there’s the unabashed pop of their most recent album, VI. As such, the set hops about a lot – impressive in its own right for a half-hour.
The steely pop of ‘Straight to My Head’ brushes against the mall-emo of ‘Underdog,’ with the eight years separating each track showing perhaps a little more than either band or audience would care to admit. What do we do – dance? Mosh? Check our phones? One guy is so confused, he yells out at the band to “play something heavy,” which makes one genuinely wonder if he’s at the right gig.
Credit to the Sixers, though – they score themselves one unifying moment. ‘Bite My Tongue,’ from 2011’s Sinners Never Sleep, is (to old mate’s point) probably the heaviest song in their arsenal. It’s assisted by one Oliver Sykes, who makes an early appearance to deliver his guest verse and send the crowd into a flurry of bodies and screams. More of that, maybe?
Before we get into our headlining act, it’s best to point out the elephant in the room – insofar as there’s enough empty space in the room to accommodate for one of them.
Despite having the number one album in the country and a decent spot in the top half of the Hottest 100 this past January, Bring Me the Horizon’s popularity has not quite translated into arena status just yet. Although some seven-odd thousand in attendance is nothing to be sneezed at, the perspective is somewhat lost when one looks up at the grandiose surrounds of the Qudos Bank Arena.
Yep, the band have not done things by halves on their First Love tour – it’s easily the most ambitious stage show they’ve ever put together, and the striking visuals that go in tandem with their latest album amo serve as one of the night’s most engaging prospects.
That said, none of it matters when the lights go down… then up… and then all over the video screens. Yep, the band have not done things by halves on their First Love tour – it’s easily the most ambitious stage show they’ve ever put together, and the striking visuals that go in tandem with their latest album amo serve as one of the night’s most engaging prospects.
Opener ‘MANTRA’ has them firing off on all cylinders – and that’s absolutely not just an expression, as two masked gunmen shoot CO2 into the crowd. Soon, they’re converting the audience into a makeshift cheerleading squad for ‘Happy Song’ and smash-cutting between West Side Story finger-clicks and old-school hardcore throw-downs on ‘wonderful life.’
The song selection is entirely from their last three albums, which is somehow both surprising and unsurprising at the same time. It’s the former because you just know there’s at least one or two die-hards in among the Johnny Come Latelys who are there to hear a morsel of the band they first discovered in high school. At the same time, however, it’s the latter — on account of Bring Me the Horizon knowing full well what got them here in the first place, playing to their strengths and knowing exactly what direction to take the performance in.
It’s refreshing how self-aware the band are at points – before playing ‘nihilist blues,’ Sykes proudly proclaims that this song was recently described to him on Instagram as “the worst song you’ve ever made.” Rather than shy away from that or serve as some sort of deterrent, he uses that as an impetus to lean into the song even further – it’s an old-school raver that trips the light fantastic and ends up serving as one of the highlights of the entire set. It’s amazing where a little self-confidence will take you, haters be damned.
While one could argue Bring Me the Horizon weren’t ready for arenas, a performance like tonight’s tells a different story. They were born ready – it’s up to the rest of us to catch up to them now.
Feature image by Jordan Munns/Live Nation Australia + New Zealand.
David James Young is a writer and podcaster. He also fucking hates shoeys – seriously, people, stop chanting for that shit. It’s 2019. He tweets at @DJYwrites.