Melbourne’s Better Half were lucky (?) enough to receive the tough task of warming up The Corner Hotel’s stage for international acts Touché Amore and Turnover. No biggie, that wouldn’t have been terrifying at all. A subdued stage presence matched the mellow crowd, which is understandable, considering vocalist Christopher Vernon was fresh off the back of the Belle Haven tour (in which he plays guitar). Better Half had some tasty riffs and solid song structure – once the vocals find a middle ground between post-hardcore yells, emo-rock singing and gutturals, I don’t doubt there’ll be some great things from these guys.
This was my first time seeing Sydney’s Endless Heights, and call me their newest fangirl, because I think I’m a bit in love. Their music is cleverly crafted, swinging between some devastatingly brutal breakdowns and emotive content, led by Joel Martorana’s surprisingly rich vocals. Really, he was an unstoppable front man, and his on-stage moves deserve a review of their own; him tripping over the mic stand with remarkable grace, his mop of red hair unstoppably headbanging in breakdowns.
The bassist repped a Postblue shirt, one guitarist was in a Royal Headache shirt – normally I’m not too fussed on how musicians dress, but I took this to be a sign of very good musical taste. Their musicianship and songwriting did not prove this assumption wrong. The band apologised for the wait for new tracks, and played two new tracks – rolling from a softer track, more along the track of shoegaze-tinged emo, the next track thick and heavy – perfectly complementing each other. This fan girl is ready for the new album.
Virginia’s Turnover were just perfection. The genre-spanning group opened their set with “Cutting My Fingers Off”, the opening track from 2015’s Peripheral Vision. From the opening chords, the crowd was singing along, bopping along, and entirely blissed out. Front man Austin Getz was perfectly earnest and self-aware, grinning to himself when he made eye contact with a crowd member who was singing along, awkwardly waving as a thank you when he finished playing a track (which, to be frank, was very endearing). He was genuinely humbled by how many people were there when they were playing so far from home, and even dedicated a track to Touché.
We heard a career-spanning set: songs of a pop-punk sensibility from Magnolia; the dream-pop tinged indie-rock tracks of Peripheral Vision; and even new track “Supernatural”, the lead single from upcoming album Good Nature. The entire set was mellow – not in the sense that they didn’t want to be there, but in the sense that each member was enveloped in the music.
Touché Amore took the stage to the recording of gospel music, and without preamble, the opening chords from “Flowers and You” (the opening track from 2016’s Stage Four) rang out. The crowd (myself included) lost it. Flawless transitioning to ‘~’, the mosh was established, and the band was unstoppable. The set heavily featured tracks from Stage Four, however played the best from all their albums. This meant the whirlwind, less than two mintute tracks of Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me and …To The Beat of a Dead Horse punctuated the longer tracks from their more recent releases, the emotions from each song sustained for the set.
Being a fan of post-hardcore/melodic hardcore, I’m a very big fan of Touché, and this was my first time seeing them live. I acted as you’d expect. I screamed along, crowd surfed and moshed alongside other fans, and left with that exhilaration you only get from an outstanding show. Each member of the band still played with humility and an unspoken passion – it was infectious to everyone in the crowd.
Vocalist Jeremy Bolm kept meaningless banter to a minimum, except for opening up regarding his anxiety returning to Australia for the first time since his mother’s passing – he revealed the entire tour has been a positive experience, contrary to his anxieties, and that Australia will always remain a really special place for him. I’m not crying, you’re crying. A friend made the observation that while it wasn’t their most energetic or wild set they’ve ever seen them play, it was the most emotional they’ve ever seen them.
There’s still two Australian shows left – Adelaide tonight and Perth tomorrow night. Don’t be a fool, grab tickets here.