Even though Australia is in the midst of summer, those who attending the SOLD OUT Unify 2018 were in for a wet and wild time; if you didn’t check the forecast, you were in for quite the shock! The highest point for the mercury capped at only about 22 degrees, as well as there being quite an abundance of rain on and off, as well as an additional audio/visual show in the aspect of the thunder/lightning.
After the entry gate opened just before midday, people had over two hours to set up their sleeping quarters and collect their wristbands and make their way into the arena, or hide within their tents to wait out the rain. Those who did brave the frequently changing weather conditions were truly appreciated by Mirrors, Sienna Skies and Belle Haven, as each band went out there and gave it everything they had as a show of thanks!
As the patches of rain seemed to come a little more spaced out, more and more attendees made their to the stage to watch the USA’s Knocked Loose explode out of the gates and not look back throughout the allocated thirty minutes. Crowd surfers were flying through the air, whilst circle pit entrants were busy dodging punches/kicks whilst throwing their own; it was the first sign of chaos taking over Tarwin Lower.
Polaris took over the stage at 5:30 to a hugely grown audience and the energy from the crowd clearly lifted the band on stage; the intensity shown as they mixed in music from their newest album ‘The Mortal Coil’ as well as fan favourites from their earlier catalogue. The allocated thirty minute set really flew by and next thing you know, the stage is empty and people are shuffling from the pit towards the bar, the food trucks or their tents.
Before too long, there was another surge of people gracing the pit as 50 Lions graced the stage. Halfway through their set, the ferocity in the pit lifted another notch as fans were delivered a family hard-core duet as Winston McCall made his way out on stage to deliver backing vocals whilst Oscar made his way down to the barrier and joined the adoring fans down in the pit. Those who weren’t in attendance would have heard the appreciative roar and been left wondering what they missed!
Melbourne’s own Behind Crimson Eyes were the first band on Friday to get a forty minute set, but they most definitely showed why; between getting up and playing their newest single Stardust and ending the set with fan favourite Shakedown, Behind Crimson Eyes were as grateful to be playing Unify as those in attendance were to get to see them perform live again!
Unify received its second American injection as Four Year Strong stepped onto the stage at just after 8:10pm; the natural light only start to fade at this point, but by no means had Four Year Strong’s energy disappeared as night-time consumed Tarwin Lower! The mosh elevated to another level as Four Year Strong had bodies flying, arms waving, horns being thrown up and security definitely earning their dollar, as the songs came hard and fast; next thing you knew, the stage was empty once more and those in the pit were awaiting the next band to walk out.
When Tonight Alive graced the stage, lead singer Jenna McDougall made sure that the crowd were aware that they were on the land of the Bunurong indigenous people, as she paid her respects to the rightful owners of the land; once that small formality had taken place, Tonight Alive somehow managed to lift the energy within the pit to a level that this reviewer didn’t think was possible! During the set, McDougall made sure to point out the insane pressure that women around the world are forced to go through to conform to ‘social standards of beauty’ and reminded those who heard her wise words that those standards are ‘beyond any sane person’s standards and you’re beautiful how you are!”
The third dose of international music on the first day of Unify came in the form of Architects who were in fine form after blowing the roof off of Adelaide the previous night! Before the set started though, Richie Hardcore came out to remind everyone how front-man Sam Carter recently halted a show mid performance and bought the sexual assault of a female concert goer to the attention of security, before going on to explain how it was the responsibility of everyone around to make sure that they are providing a comfortable space for people to be in. Hardcore went to explain how making sexual jokes are not okay, as it perpetuates the mindset that sort of behaviour is acceptable, before asking people to think about it being their sister/best friend in that situation and whether they would find it funny then.
Once Hardcore left the stage, Carter and the rest of Architects earnt the first of only two hour long sets allocated for the headliners; they were full of energy and kept the crowd moving, which was no mean feat considering it was 10:30pm when they walked out on stage! As had been the case throughout the day, the crowd were trying to get Carter to perform a Shoe-y; after telling the crowd the first time how disgusting and un-hygienic it is, Carter took his shoe off and pretended to pour a beer into it before pulling a middle finger out and telling the crowd they had zero chance of him ever doing it! Towards the end of their set, Carter has asked for the audience to grant him a minute of silence to talk about something very important; majority of those in attendance were respectful enough to listen as Carter went on to talk about the fact that it is okay for men to cry and that the public need to change the negative stigma associated with men crying. Touching on the fact that the loss of Tom Searle not only crushed him but almost led him down a very dark path, Carter made sure the audience knew that if it wasn’t for the support of his friends and band members, he might not have been around to tell his story!
Drawing Friday’s lineup to a close was the one and only Parkway Drive, who were celebrating ten years of their ‘Horizons’ album; although in the words of Winston, they were ‘the first band to grace the stage on Saturday!’ The energy that Parkway were extruding was somehow even higher than anything the audience had seen so far, which provided the much needed lift to those who were started to get tired, as every song bar Frostbite and Five Months were played over the course of the hour long set. The on-stage antics were just as chaotic as the mosh-pit; not only did PWD choose to launch upwards of 6 large beach balls into the crowd for their enjoyment as much as the attendees, but during Breaking Point there was a race between two inflatable rafts that were dropped onto the mosh-pit. Oompa was meant to get into one and race whoever climbed into the other raft to the sound desk and back but that never eventuated; as soon as the rafts were placed on top of the mosh they were long gone! There was a second joining of the McCall brothers as Oscar repaid the favour by joining Winston on stage during the set, before blue and yellow confetti rained down on the wet and tired punters as Parkway concluded their set with Bottom Feeder at approximately 1am.