Who: The Story So Far / Basement / Endless Heights
Where: UNSW Roundhouse, Sydney
When: Friday April 19th, 2019
Review: David James Young (Facebook / Twitter / Website / Patreon)
Photos: Pat O'Hara (Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram)
The Dead Love have had such an interesting variety of support slots in the last year or so that they may as well change their name to “With Special Guests The Dead Love.” How have they found themselves in such a position? Essentially, by serving as a catch-all – the aural equivalent of one-size-fits-all. Do you like Violent Soho? Nirvana? Postblue? The Smashing Pumpkins? Dear Seattle? The Dead Love are here – live, loud and almost tasting the same as the original product. Even their best song, “Sugarcoat,” is just a pub-rock retelling of Weezer's “Say It Ain't So” – think “Are You Gonna Be My Girl?” in relation to “Lust For Life".
Okay, so The Dead Love don't have an original bone in their body. Who does? That's not the issue here. The issue is having all of these opportunities and this platform, and essentially doing nothing with it. It's not challenging or provocative music by any stretch. It simply abides. To tell the truth, that might be worse.
By means of contrast, Endless Heights are a band that have never taken their position in the music scene lightly. They've taken lofty ambition and big-swing risk to get where they are, and they put in the work each and every night to validate it. You can see in the reaction of their audiences – even ones, like tonight's, that are not technically their own – that all of the efforts the Sydneysiders have put in have paid off in major dividends. Look at the slow, steady burn of “Come A Little Closer” or the dark, downtuned dissonance of “You Coward".
Watch the way vocalist Joel Martorana and guitarist Jem Siow literally throw themselves into every song, bringing their hardcore-matinee roots into their current incarnation. Even with a moment that could completely lose everyone – a cover of Tears For Fears' “Head Over Heels” – they instead completely win over those in the room and completely sell a potential future in new wave. Come what may, Endless Heights are in it for the long haul.
True to their name, Basement began underground. Across four albums and multiple world tours, however, they've ascended to the top of the the British emo revival food chain. After an ill-fitting support slot with AFI some 18 months ago, it's great to have them back in Australia on their terms, performing to an audience that – richly, entirely – gets them. “Disconnect” has bodies surging to the front, singing its refrain at a level that rivals the PA. It's followed quickly by “Aquasun” and “Nothing Left”, accentuating their alt-rock leanings and their intimate familiarity with an all-encompassing chorus.
One of the key things Basement have done since they were last here was open for the Pixies and Weezer, and learning to adapt to such massive surrounds has clearly done wonders for their own performance regime. They deliver tracks like “Whole”, “Pine” and throwback cut “Crickets Throw Their Voice” like they were playing Madison Square Garden – not in a sense that's conceited, but more in the sense that they are entirely sure of themselves and what they're capable of. It's invigorating to watch it unfurl.
Fanbase crossover aside, there's also an interesting crossover between Basement and their co-headling compadres in The Story So Far. The former have a song titled “Be Here Now,” which was famously the title of Oasis' 1997 album. The latter, meanwhile, have a lead vocalist that has very clearly been studying Liam Gallagher tapes and is one star-shaped tambourine away from being a straight-up homage. His name is Parker Cannon, but his choice of outfit tonight makes for the low-hanging fruit of rebranding him as Parka Cannon.
Jokes aside, the Walnut Creek quintet have certainly being going through some changes on the back of their excellent 2018 album, Proper Dose. They still look back in anger – the combo of “Roam” and “Quicksand” from their debut album feels like a shot in the arm – but they also provide tranquility and respite that was hitherto unseen during their shows. Rather than serve as cynical piss-break songs, “Take Me As You Please” and “Upside Down” instead serve as highlights of the entire evening – a moment of true tenderness on a night that was, for all intents and purposes, for the emo kids. Closing out with the belligerent pop-punk of “Nerve,” The Story So Far have adapted and evolved without losing sense of where they came from.
Catch our full gallery of photos from Basement and The Story So Far in Sydney after the jump!