Under a crushed blue velvet sky, the line of eagerly awaiting fans, waiting outside for the doors of Arrow on Swanston to open, stretched far down the street, past Cornell Place. It was a stream of darkness; a uniform of black boots, black lace, black eyeliner and black band tees. At the tip of the line were the VIP ticketholders, listening to Motionless in White tracks on their phones, keenly anticipating meeting the band they love. Walking down through to the back of the line, you could hear the chatter amongst Motionless in White fans discussing their beloved band; asking each other if they had seen them live before, and what their favourite song was. It was apparent that there was an unbridled, Messianic lust for Motionless in White within the fans who have waited for years to see them headline their own tour in Australia.
This is Motionless in White’s fourth visit to the country – following two Soundwave tours, and their last trip supporting A Day to Remember and The Amity Affliction for the Big Ass Tour in 2015. With support from Brisbane’s Darkcell, and Crown the Empire – from Dallas, Texas – this tour to promote Motionless in White’s latest album, Graveyard Shift had a lot of expectations riding on it.
Leading the night was Darkcell, who aroused the attention of the audience with a loud recorded piano playback crackling through the speakers. Once it became entrenched in a deep electronic bass beat, drummer Jay Macabre struck a single blow to the drum, warning the audience they were ready for mayhem. The lights of the venue unfortunately had yet to be dimmed. But with the band on stage – armed with their instrumental weapons, their bodies smeared with their black war paint – it was time for the show to begin, regardless. Darkcell were about to bring out the shadows of the night, lights on or off.
They began with the convulsions of ‘Stitch Your Heart’ – a punchy dance track from their last album Haunted Reality. Unfortunately, the lights didn’t come down until after the first chorus, and they had to face slight feedback from the speakers. They managed to stay in their personas and instilled their energy into the room, despite these issues. They persevered through to ‘Un-United’ with singer Jesse Dracman getting into his 80s Heavy Metal stride – strutting with bravado and winning the crowd over. The army of darkness obligingly chanting ‘Un-united’ brought about a unity between the band and the audience. By the time they played ‘Monsters,’ Darkcell had truly overcome any initial setbacks.
Drummer Jay Macabre was perfection, with a chicness to his drumming that drove the rhythm within. The audience, grooving along to his beat, were welcoming being drizzled with the gruesomeness emanating from their music.
Next, Darkcell performed their latest single ‘Hail to the Freaks,’ delivering the funky party-anthem with a deep, rich bass kick. It reverberated from the speakers, across the floor, crawling up through the feet and compelling hearts to pound in tune.
They potently closed the set with the crowd-pleasing ‘Preacher.’ Dracman, giving it his all, climbed down to the front of the crowd, traversing the barrier and embracing his army below. Darkcell did well to get the crowd excited and set the mood for the Metalcore intensity that was yet to come.
There were a lot of Crown the Empire fans in the crowd, and they made it apparent as soon the band sounded their first spirited note. They began with ‘Zero’ which they played with absolute vigour and refinement. Crown the Empire were a powerhouse, demonstrating a suave perfection on stage. The crowd were nourished by the band’s energy, and stridently sang along to all their songs.
The might of the verses of ‘The Fallout’ juxtaposed the sugariness of singer Andrew Velasquez’s melodic vocals in the chorus. Velasquez was the poster-boy for the adoring fans, exuding charisma with his youthful buoyancy. He was serving it hard, with his clean and unclean vocals, and was well aware that the audience was lapping up every bar of it.
The momentum remained persistent through a heartfelt rendition of ‘Aftermath.’ The arsenal attack of bass and drums in ‘Voices,’ was directly followed by ‘The One You Feed.’ Crown the Empire were leaping from one compelling breakdown to the next, bourgeoning with each.
The earnest love song ‘Millennia’ changed the pace, with guitarist Brandon Hoover subtly shining through in his solo – rousing the submissive hands in the crowd to gently sway side to side. Soon the audience’s hands were animated and clapping along to the beat of the peppy ‘Hologram.’
Crown the Empire robustly rounded out their set with ‘The Fallout’ and ‘Machines’ – pulling out every reserve of energy within their bodies for both songs. It was infectious and the crowd matched their vitality. The moment that ‘Machines’ ended, and the band made their exit from the stage, a chant of ‘one more song’ boomed from the audience. Crown the Empire really struck a chord with the crowd and the audience wanted more. They didn’t get one more song, but that was nothing to fret about as it meant that Motionless in White were soon to take the stage. The excitement in the awestruck crowd was brimming.
It was safe to say that the Motionless in White set was not for the epileptic. Under piercing strobe lights, the chaos and the ghoulish fury of the band unravelled throughout the night.
The band entered the stage and incessantly pounded out ‘Death March.’ As soon as singer Chris “Motionless” Cerulli called out ‘Melbourne,’ the crowd was spellbound, raising their hands in a trance. This is what they had come for. This is what this night was about.
Motionless in White were sounding more emphatic than ever and were fervently enjoying being the stars of the show. The crowd was in the palm of their hands. The drums were pumping, the crowd was jumping, and everything aligned for a thoroughly entertaining show.
When ‘LOUD (Fuck It)’ began, the party was in full swing. The venue transformed to a hardcore rave. The band were feeling it as much as the audience was. This was the most confident Motionless in White have ever been, and it was clear that they are comfortable where they are musically and as performers. Each member held their place firmly, and they all played their roles with mastery.
The sound was rich and multi-dimensional. In ‘Devil’s Night’ they were frantic, drubbing out the breakdown with deeply embedded screams. ‘Break the Cycle’ was just as frenetic. The music was blaring – only matched by the unruly roar of the crowd, who became progressively louder and louder throughout the night. Cerulli commented that the audience’s voices were “louder than the fucking PA System.”
The band spun it back a few years, playing the popular ‘Abigail’ to the delight of the crowd. They bopped to the crystalline tones, thriving in the growing heat. They then returned to the new album, travelling from Melbourne to Scranton in ‘570.’ The reverberation was in every particle in the venue. It was contagious and no one could resist dancing. The crowd succumbed to the band wholeheartedly.
Before ‘A-M-E-R-I-C-A’ began, one audience member started the “Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi” chant, which caught on through the crowd. A curious and impressed Cerulli asked the audience to repeat it, which they did, even more boisterously this time. “I fucking love it,” Cerulli said. “No one in the States does stuff like this.” The timing was fitting as the raucous chanting continued through ‘A-M-E-R-I-C-A.’
Motionless in White are known for performing covers of a contemporary rock songs. On this tour, it is System of a Down’s ‘Chop Suey’ – which is a pretty big challenge to take on. While the drumming was impeccable, the guitars fell slightly short of the high calibre of the original. Everyone was enjoying it though, with the audience singing along – drowning out Cerulli’s vocals. The melodic conclusion came together beautifully and was a one of the many magical moments of the night.
‘Necessary Evil’ brought things back to the latest album. They performed it well, without the accompanying vocals of KORN’s Jonathan Davis, who features on the track. Guitarist Ryan Sitkowski was revitalised, and with the rest of the band delivered one of the best, most endearing breakdowns of the night. They followed this with the funk of ‘Rats’ and its earworm of a chorus.
‘Immaculate Conception’ saw Motionless in White muster up an unfathomable amount of verve. The guitars were resonant and the track was blistering, peppered with another grandiose breakdown to consume.
The highlight of the night was ‘Eternally Yours.’ The power of the crowd and the dynamism of the band culminated into a single force, which enveloped the atmosphere. In that moment, the band eternally belonged to the audience; and the audience eternally belonged to the band.
They didn’t make the hungry crowd wait long for the encore of ‘Reincarnate.’ For this final song, everyone in the room gave it everything they had. It was a sea of headbanging – heads bobbing like a field of sunflowers disturbed by a strong forceful gale. The emphatic shouting, “you make me fucking sick” sealed the deal on this stellar performance.
This night was about unity; the uniting of dedicated fans to their enigmatic favourite band. Motionless in White were cosmic in their ceaseless delivery and performance; and they were equally matched by a vehement, arduous audience. Judging by the absolute enchantment felt in the air on this night, I’m sure it won’t be the last time Motionless in White headline a tour in Australia.