Review: Unify Gathering 2016

2016 Unify Gathering, South Gippsland, Victoria

Get to the Festival! Unify is a gathering of a maximum of 5000 fans who ‘like heavy music’ covering the cores, punk, and a healthy dose of alternative. 2016 was only its second year. 2015 was a more intimate affair, with the maximum 3000 tickets selling out in 3 hours. Getting a Wonka ticket was easier, but the setlist was a blinder for 2016, and a ticket was a must. The festival is over a day and a half. It’s located a couple of hours south-east of Melbourne, in rural Victoria. Day one was the 16th January, but ever noticed how time means nothing at festivals? We decided to start our tour in Adelaide on the 13th January watching State Champs, Neck Deep and South Australian up-and-comers With Confidence. We enjoyed it so much we jumped in a car, drove 14 hours and watched them do it all over again in Richmond, Victoria. From there, it was a lazy 2 hour drive South to Gippsland to watch them and other heavyweights do it all again. Reading that last paragraph back, why the hell did it take 4 days to get home and write this…. I did say festivals work on different time. Unify calls itself a boutique festival, but camping, parking, merch, and food is all well covered. Australian festivals are notorious for being dust bowls at this time of year, and this is no different. Goggles and mask might be the goer next year, and I can confirm that next year is on, promising to be bigger and better.

Day One These are the bands that were on day one, and showed a healthy dose of Aussie talent. Confession, Dream on – Dreamer, Hands Like Houses, Hellions, In Hearts Wake, Make Them Suffer, Ocean Grove, Parkway Drive, Stories, Stray From the Path, Tonight Alive, and Void of Vision. Not bad for the first day. So lets pick out the gems. Confession – probably the hardest band of the day, and a band with a fine history. It was great to see them, but it’s almost their last show, as after seven years of hard work and touring, they have decided to hang up the mic. They are completing a national tour which takes them to every corner of Australia to say goodbye. Based on this performance, why are you leaving us? Crafter is a great front man, but then again, he was when he was with I Killed The Prom Queen. The crowd went crazy and the band is tight from all the touring… just an intense sound and true metal hardcore. Like I said, great to see them eventually, but so sad at the same time. Hellions – I got caught out by these guys. They released their second album last year, ‘Indian Summer’, and it managed to debut at #19 in the Australian charts. The big story of the day is that they are setting out on a tour of the UK with Northlane, which should get a few people excited. I have to follow up on these guys as they were really impressive on the day. Tonight Alive – These guys from Sydney were my pick of day one. They have been touring for the last two years, it seems, and last time they were on the main stage at the Soundwave (RIP) festival in 2015. I haven’t seen much of the band in the lest few months, and the story on the day was that this was their first major gig in 6 months, with a new album ‘due in 2016’. Actually guys, it’s March the 4th by my reckoning! You wouldn’t know they have been off stage at all, as they sound really good. With a huge European tour coming up, I would encourage you to go see them. Jenna McDougall must be one of the best performers of the day. Totally smashed it! Parkway Drive – The Australian metalcore powerhouse strolls on stage at close to midnight – maybe I’m still on SA time? Have these guys really being going since 2003? The chat in the group is that they’ve probably been touring since 2003! What can you say, it’s Parkway Drive but they had some serious competition today.

Setlist: Destroyer Dying to Believe Wild Eyes Carrion Karma Dark Days Deliver Me Vice Grip Romance Is Dead Crushed Home Is for the Heartless.

Day Two. So, another big half day today, with the gig finishing at 6pm tonight. For a festival, I’m up ridiculously early, it must be almost 11am. Today’s line up is – Columbus, Neck Deep, State Champs, The Weight of Silence, and Trophy Eyes Columbus – Pick of the festival for me. They just came on and smashed it. They looked half scared, and couldn’t believe their luck to be on that stage, but their music proved that they should be there. For a band that doesn’t have a full album to their name, they just came on like pros and the audience fell in love. They were the most energetic band of the weekend playing three piece punk with everyone a vocalist. A fantastic set. I walked away thinking that is the band to watch! I have no idea what they played, as it was a blur. They have songs that go on for about 50 seconds. The group was of the opinion that they probably played every song they have, and would have had to have done a cover for an encore. Come on Columbus, give us an album. Neck Deep and State Champs – third time I had seen the pairing in a week, and they didn’t disappoint. State Champs were the pick of the pair, and they played a cut down set of their Australian tour which was:

Secrets Simple Existence All You Are Is History Easy Enough Losing Myself Remedy Elevated

State Champs are now off to Japan, but since I can’t drive there I’m not going! Not true really, as I’m watching the Vamps in Sydney that weekend. My last pick for day 2 is the mayhem that is Trophy Eyes. This will be Australia’s next main export. Formed in 2013 in the industrial town of Newcastle, their sound is hard-hitting punk. You can tell that they have been touring the last 7 months because they look like they are up for it. Travelling with the Warped Tour, Neck Deep, and Knuckle Puck have them firing. They weren’t my favourite type of sound before the festival, but you can’t ignore the fact that they know how to give the audience what they want. Scoop of the day was that the band are getting ready to tour the UK and Europe again later in the year. Look out Europe! That’s about it, apart from the four day detour to get home to a comfortable bed and running water. Get ready for Unify 2017!

Reviewer Kirsten Grant

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