Photography by Kierra Thorn @KierraThorn
It’s been a long time coming for Texas metal powerhouse Drowning Pool to hit Aussie shores with their first headline tour, and hit us they did. Last Friday was a riot for everyone who stuck with the group from debut banger Sinner 15 years ago, as well as for new fans who got to hear a killer selection of tracks from sixth offering Hellelujah (2016). Solidarity imbued what became a special night, overwhelming vocalist Jasen Moreno as emotions were laid bare.
“You should probably check the batteries in your wireless before you fucking play.”
Tensions Arise frontman K. Kage chuckled here after his mic went dead, just a couple of minutes into the Sydney metal band’s set. While this disrupted the mood, with Kage turning his back on the audience to switch up the batteries, they soon got back into the swing of things. Bassist Tim Hannaford’s flying fingers and sheer stage presence were compelling to watch, permeating the short set.
“I’m feeling fucking hungry, so let’s eat this sandwich.”
That was Kage’s segue into second-last track and gig highlight ‘Darkness Binds’. Stage movement was great, with Kage leaning into guitarist Ash Haslewood (even using his chin as a fretboard at one stage). However, some inconsistencies with the vocalist’s longer screams came through here, although mostly nailing the short runs. Nonetheless, with Kage introducing every band member and receiving an uproar in response, they’d clearly won over a small but rowdy crowd.
It was horror-punk stalwarts Horrorwood Mannequins who took the audience to another level. Vocalist Audri Medicate stalked the stage feverishly, mentioning his “three favourite things” before breaking out into the infectious ‘Drugs Bitches Booze’ off debut album The Hard Way (2015). Far from inconsistent, Medicate ripped into his longest scream during ‘The Sound of a Strip Bar’. The frontman’s prowling presence was well offset by the stoicism of guitarist Steeden, blasting some groovy riffs to sustain the night.
Then, it was time.
The headliners knew how to get a nearly full house going early, opening with fan-favourite ‘Sinner’. After a couple of tracks from sophomore record Desensitized (2004), a triple threat of new tracks showcased the best of the four-piece’s talents. The circle pit which opened up immediately to ‘By The Blood’ and the many devil horns being thrust their way during ‘We Are The Devil’ were testaments to the band’s talent, and Moreno’s expert interaction with the moshpit.
Tracks including personal favourite ‘Drop’ (cue second circle pit) and ‘Reminded’ allowed the complexities in Moreno’s cleans to come to the fore, also showing how effortless he makes those transitions into power-filled screams. The frontman greatly elevated the other members’ performance, with drummer Mike Luce getting a visible (and verbal) boost more than a few times.
Meanwhile, axeman C.J. Pierce’s sheer chops only grew in strength, fuelled by an insane crowd and particularly shining on the slower yet just as intense ‘Hate’ as he dug deep into a killer guitar solo.
Despite playing the track nearly halfway through, the room was filled with the opposite feeling as Moreno requested the lights be shined brighter on the crowd so he could “get a good look” at us all. He let the moment be, urging us to put our phone torches on and capture the scene (there were more than just a few lighters in the air).
One of the best moments of a monster set came towards the end as the band launched into ‘Pity’, exploding as fans went crazy to the mosh-ready chorus. This extended into ‘Told You So’, an old track with an unshakable groove as Moreno delivered some variety with rap-style vocals.
Then, it was time. Again.
The moment that everyone knew was coming. Yet no one could have predicted just how crazy things would get when we were finally summoned to Let the bodies hit the floor. With Moreno reminding people to take care of each other, soon die-hard fans were invited to climb onto the stage to join the group for their biggest hit to date.
It was everything we could’ve hoped for (apart from one fan nearly fainting up on stage), the song morphing into something greater with every chorus and camaraderie running through it all as Moreno went for embrace after embrace.
What a night, Drowning Pool. You truly brought the house down, and us together.