Story Of The Year

support Flogging Molly + Emery
author PP date 13/05/06 venue Festival Hall, Melbourne, AUS

Since when did Story Of The Year sell out arena-sized venues outside of the US? I don't remember the band growing this big since their last full length "In The Wake Of Determination", which was an u-turn from the mainstream emo into a much heavier and harsher direction. Tonight Story Of The Year is playing the Festival Hall in Melbourne, and all 6,400 standing and seating tickets have been sold out for a long time. The great supporting acts may also pay a great part in selling out the venue, but as far as I could see, Emery wasn't known by 95% of the crowd. This was clearly a mainstream gig, as one was able to see people anywhere from 12 years old to ~30 years old within the crowd. After the initial amazement over the size of the venue, it slowly but surely turned out that this was possibly the worst venue I've ever seen. Take this for an example: I bought my tickets as 'box office', i.e. collecting the tickets at the venue. But once I arrived to the main doors (1-3) of the venue, I was told to go around the entire hall structure, cross the street and go to a miniature shop to collect my tickets, where I found myself assigned for door number 4. "No problem, it's right there" I thought, but at the door I was turned away and told that my bag must go into the cloakroom. Where was the cloakroom? On the other side of the hall, once again, OUTSIDE of the venue. I then had to walk there, and back to door 4 to get into the venue. Now imagine the following scenario: At one stage or another you know that a half-irish band comes on stage to play drinking music. You are not allowed to drink in the floor part of the venue, but instead, you must go to a separate underground room with next to no ventilation, and queue for 15 minutes, without being able to take the drink back up to where the bands are playing?? This is the first time I'll give a grade for the venue but here it is: [-23].

Okay, now that I've released most of the steam I had, it's time to analyze Emery's performance. Due to the above reasons I was 15 minutes late to their set, and only saw the remaining 20 minutes. Regardless, their display proved to fit my preconceptions perfectly. Beforehand, I thought they'd be rather bland on stage with the occasional outburst of emotion and stage destruction during the screaming parts. This turned out to be true, as when the band performed their softer songs and their clean-vocal parts, they simply stood still with a few moves here and there. If only the band would keep up the energy and movement they displayed during the hard songs in their entire performance, they'd score high. I for one got chills when their background screamer (the keyboardist) took a huge jump from the drumset, maybe about 5 metres forward, fell off the stage, climbed towards the crowd and was on his knees supported by the crowds hands, while screaming straight down to the front 4 rows. Or when the guitarists threw around their guitars in air, around themselves and between their legs while running across the stage, or when the keyboardist took one of his keyboards and pretended to smash it onto the stage. It's things like these that make the difference of a good and a great performance, and more of the similar would've led into an automatic 7 or higher. However, the lack of the prior combined with the rather slushy guitar sound and the way, way too quiet/bad quality background screams result into a lower grade. I'd still probably go see them on a headlining tour, as their set was clearly tailored softer for the younger fans in the crowd. If all of their songs were like "Walls" tonight...

5

Flogging Molly always puts on a great performance. The irish folk-punk seven piece will make you in a good mood for sure unless you are a stereotypical emo-character, who dresses in black and hates everything about the world [surprisingly few of them here tonight, by the way!]. Their lead singer Dave King is old enough to be the grandfather of half of the crowd tonight, but that doesn't matter, as their happy punk melodies make the crowd mosh like there's no end. Bridget's occasional fiddle and flute solos were top notch tonight, causing Dave to make fun of her during pretty much the entire show. We heard comments like "Everyone who is a Catholic is a loser... say hi to our Catholic girl Bridget", causing her playfully to give him the finger on stage. Dave also spent some time on advising the young crowd to think for themselves, and not to vote for idiots (with a reference to Bush), and got everyone to raise their middle fingers in air as a 'hate-sign' to our friend George W (:D).

The band was the perfect support for Story Of The Year. Their ecstatic performance inspired everyone in the crowd to cheer, dance and to put a smile on their face for the rest of the night. They're THE party-band around at the moment, and thus a great selection for as vivid live band as SOTY is. The lead singer was cheeky enough to drink on stage while the rest of the crowd wasn't able to, drawing some greedy looks at his pint glass, while they stormed through their popular songs like "Seven Deadly Sins". As I stated before, this band never fails to amuse and excite you, which was the case today as well.

7

After Flogging Molly everyone was positively charged for a lively Story Of The Year set. However, to a great disappoinment, their setlist had been tailored to suit the broad range of age groups present at the audience (also known as mainstream-, or major label-tailoring). During the Taste Of Chaos tour, the band relied on the harder, heavier songs than this time around, and consequently their stage presence suffered greatly. They didn't attack their songs with the same aggression and passion they did during Taste Of Chaos, and songs like "Stereo" and "Taste The Poison" sounded painfully cliché when compared to the single hard song the band played. The crowd didn't get anywhere nearly as lit up during the entire set as during the closing song "Is This My Fate? He Asked Them". I was thinking 'hey, maybe they just saved the hard songs for the end?' but no, this is where they finished. During the buildup to the song, a circle pit started widening on the floor. And widening. And widening. And widening, until it was so big that the most impatient ones jumped straight into the hollow emptyness that must have been at least 30 metres wide. That's too bad, because a wall-of-death was looking more than likely if these young fools hadn't ruined it all too early. But where was "Meathead"? "Five Against The World"? "March Of The Dead"?

The usual "Anthem Of My Dying Day" and "Until The Day I Died" were of course played, alongside with the always strong "Swallow The Knife" and the new favorite "Our Time Is Now", but each of these were played with softness usually not belonging into a Story Of The Year performance. In most cases (as evident on Taste Of Chaos and on their live album "Live In The Lou"), Dan adds an extra rough edge over his vocal work, delivering it with thrice the passion and aggression than on the record. So when you're expecting that, and receiving a half-assed effort, you won't go back home singing the songs in your head. Especially not when they miss their best song written to date, "Meathead". The lack of aggression lead into equally lacking stage presence, the simultaneous jumps were in the minimum and Dan wasn't running around the stage like a madman as in the previous shows I've witnessed. Additionally, the stage lighting was strangely arranged to only cover about 60% of the stage, leaving extra 20% unlit on both sides of the arena-sized stage. Occasionally it was impossible to see some of the band while they ran to the extreme edges of the stage, big minus sign right there.

Some abnormal events occured during the show, including the entire crowd chanting "Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi!" for no apparent reason, stoking the band members who had no idea what it was all about. As an intermission, the band also embarked on a series of short-covers including "Sweet Child Of Mine", "Living On A Prayer" and some RnB song among others. Regardless, I expected so much more from Story Of The Year than what they delivered today. Maybe it was partly because of the crappy venue (arena-sized gigs are NEVER good. NEVER. [Festivals excluded]), or partly because of major-label pressure due to the range of age groups present, or because the band has been touring like there's no end, but nothing can excuse the half-assed performance the band gave today. If this was your first show ever, or within your first 10 shows ever, you are going to disagree with my grade. But after you've seen a big variety of shows (20+), you can only agree with my grading tonight.

5

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