Words by Samantha Wolstenholme
This really is an exciting time for women, trans, and non-binary people in heavy music – both nationally and on a global scale, the scene seems to be ripe with talent blooming in every corner with diverse badasses making their mark. And it’s about time, too. Sydney’s melodic metallers Fifth Dawn are by no means new kids on the block, but they are poised for a glittering re-emergence with their first new releases since their debut album ‘Duality’ in 2018. What powerful releases these singles are, having catapulted right onto Spotify editorial playlists to add to the band’s 11+ million streams. Now Fifth Dawn are determined to declare this new chapter of their career well and truly begun through an East Coast ‘Closer’ tour with fellow Sydneysiders Aurateque in tow. With each of the three tour dates offering a handpicked lineup that champions diverse voices in Australian heavy music, tonight’s Brisbane leg at Stranded Bar promises a unique, inspiring and captivating live music experience.
No sooner have doors opened than local alt-metal outfit In Eyes take the stage, and boy, do they come in swinging with one of the strongest local opening sets I have seen in recent memory. There really is no word other than “powerhouse” to describe frontwoman Rosie Jacobson’s huge, impeccable rock belt, which is reminiscent of Flyleaf’s Lacey Sturm. Rosie even soars into a Mariah Carey-esque whistle tone a few times during the set, demonstrating impressive versatility to match her technical ability. The whole band knocks it out of the park with a seemingly limitless supply of energy, confident stage presence and a natural band chemistry. Delivering gorgeous melodies with a gritty, groovy edge from the ripping rhythm section, they convey Tonight Alive meets Anberlin vibes. There’s an unexpectedly crushing breakdown during Tripwire, and closer The Dreamer is a frenzied, urgent number with a rousing chorus round ending that lands with maximum impact. In Eyes have been an absolute delight tonight, and I hope I see them play later sets at bigger gigs before long.
Brisbane’s beloved heavy rockers Torizon are next up, harnessing the attitude of 90s hard rock and grunge and giving it a modern treatment with a backdrop of slick synthy soundscapes. The self-identified “petalcore” trio marry raw, almost Paramore-esque punky defiance with anthemic choruses, and frontwoman Mish is investing every last iota of passion and energy into her iconically empowering lyrics tonight. Even though at times Torizon’s live sound could benefit from a little more of the lower end to balance out the auditory spectrum, Luke Kleinschmidt is such a demon on guitar that he compensates for this, particularly in the shreddy guitar solos which he blazes through tonight. Early on in the set, the band encounters some technical difficulties, but they power on like the troopers they are to deliver recent bangers Damaged and Martyr. The trio’s two final songs are new, unreleased tracks. They are the strongest numbers in the set with sweeping symphonic orchestrations that evoke Elysion vibes, and they mark a real evolution in the band’s sound. If those tracks are anything to go by, Torizon are definitely heading on an upwards trajectory.
Aurateque launch straight into nu-punk craziness with all the shocking yet charming abruptness of a confetti bomb spontaneously combusting. There are some initial issues with the live mix – vocals keep cutting in and out – but frontwoman Lauren Coleman is undaunted and undeterred as she keeps us entertained with her deliciously dramatic, erratic stage movements. And when the sound issues are finally resolved, the quartet in all their glory are a revelation, and the energy in the room skyrockets. Their sound is akin to the unhinged frenzy of Suicidal Tendencies tempered with the dark elegance of Evanescence. Lauren demonstrates a fry scream that would make the harpies weep in envy, which contrasts satisfyingly with her strong rock belt. When she screams, her entire body convulses and she is a woman possessed – it’s amazing to watch. Guitarists Matthew Bortolin and Luke Denniss notably get a circle pit going when they jump into the pit, and the frenzy builds. Lauren apologises for a lack of energy after the previous night’s Sydney show, but you honestly would never guess. The crowd has gathered in a captivated cluster to watch this band who are feeling their music on an elemental level; it’s such a passionate performance from four incredible musicians. Aurateque is destined for the heights, and they’ve certainly made many new fans in Brisbane tonight.
If I only had three words to sum up Fifth Dawn’s live experience, they would be – hypnotic, entrancing, arresting. The quartet instantly paint a wall of rich watercolour sound that washes over you and holds you tight in its embrace. Frontwoman Sam Faul’s vocals are crystal clear, pure and angelic, yet incredibly powerful; they soar and shimmer above you as they seize your heart with the intensely emotive vibrato Sam possesses. The band is impeccably tight and Sam is pitch perfect – they are delivering an album-quality performance here of their cinematic, stirring Architects meets Flyleaf sound. Sam is a mesmerising frontwoman; there’s an enigmatic quality to her delivery, and she has a way of effortlessly drawing you in to meet her in this place of honesty and vulnerability. Recent single The In-Between hits HARD live. The combination of Sam’s vocals, the chunky guitar groove and the crisp, driving drums gives me goosebumps. The band debut a new track Blood Eyes, complete with lush shoegaze guitar effects to keep you transfixed, and treat us to a number from ‘Duality’ that is a little more subdued with 90s industrial flavours. Overall, Fifth Dawn’s sound is imbued with a subtle magic – the magic of raw, unadulterated fragility – and this really shines through in a live setting. The only fault I can find with this set is that it simply has not been long enough.
I didn’t need to attend tonight’s phenomenal show to be convinced of this, but I’ll say it louder for the people in the back – the standard of Australian heavy acts is on the rise and rise, and many of those are right in your backyard. Support local bands by attending their shows, because you will very likely discover greatness on a tiny stage. Not only that, but heavy bands led by diverse voices are making noise, and it’s in the scene’s interest to pay attention as they step up, claim their space and blow us all away with amazing art.
Qona Creative Presents
Fifth Dawn ‘Closer’ February 2024 East Coast Tour
ONE SHOW REMAINING
Saturday 10 Feb 2024 – Bergy Bandroom, Naarm/Melbourne
Tickets via https://qona.tourlink.to/closer
Thanks to Qona Creative