My friend and I make the long trip to Wheelers Hill and step out of the car to find breathtaking views over the nearby valley; We’ve arrived at Shotgun: “Melbourne’s newest alternative nightclub”. We’re here early, I want to catch the newly reformed The Lesson open the night, supporting Sydney post-hardcore act The Mission in Motion and Melbourne pop-punk/ rock favorites Stealing O’Neal. Our tattooed lady DJ for the evening tells me that Shotgun has only being running only a month or two, and obligingly plays my request: Seven Years by Saosin comes over the speakers while The Lesson set up, and the pierced and skinny jean clad punters saunter in. While Shotgun hasn’t quite reached the well known crush of the city alternative clubs, there’s quite a turn out by the end of the evening.
Melbourne up-and-comers The Lesson kick off their post-hardcore assault with E to da G, their newly released track, which opens with a syncopated riff that rings of Underoath influence. The band’s twin-vocal assault packs a punch, with Scott English’s soaring cleans entwining with James Lynch’s blood letting scream. The band are comprised of some new faces, having reformed recently after shortening their name from The Lesson Of Her Death. Things have undoubtedly improved, and the band are tight, and starting to ground themselves in a unique and highly melodic sound. While their recordings are high quality, their live sound radiates an energy and urgency not heard from the studio takes. They are currently wrapping up demos of new material, which I’ve been lucky enough to hear, and their new direction is even further into the Circa Survive school of ambient, experimental post-hardcore. Keep an eye on them.
Next up is Brisbane pop-punk/ hardcore kids I Am Villain. They are loud, fast and in your face, but feedback and sound issues get in the way of a truly enjoyable set. The tight twin guitar attack keeps things grounded, but there is not much here that hasn’t already been covered by legions of New Found Glory wannabes. Props to the guitarist for the Def Lep singlet though.
The Mission In Motion (TMIM) step onstage next, and by this time the crowd has swelled. The band’s sizable frontman Brett Islaub isn’t fazed by the massive crowd, stepping out into the audience and performing almost the entire set jumping about in front of the stage, daring the audience not to have as much fun as he is. The sun-drenched Sydneysiders put on one hell of a show, running around the stage, having a ball and rocking out, all while absolutely nailing their parts. The band has done hundreds of shows, and believe me you can tell, they look quite at home on stage. Their sound is catchy, melodic, and the lyrics are full of positivity and energy. There are plenty of big sing-along choruses, and just when you think you’re hearing a pop song, the band throws in a massive chunky riff to rattle your bones. Catch them if they make their way to your town, a show with TMIM is money back guarantee for a good time.
Last up is Melbourne alternative/pop-punk lifers Stealing O’Neal. Anyone who has been the live scene around here long enough would have heard them at some point, and they deserve the name they’ve made for themselves. Like TMIM, they are completely at ease on stage, and bring their good vibes to the whole venue, although their performance lacks some of the visceral energy that TMIM brought to the audience. A highlight of the show is the epic and uplifting Catchafire, off their debut LP Don’t Sleep, which has the audience singing along right from the first verse, and through to the big chorus which has frontman Chris Scott challenging the audience singing: “Who just stands there, clicking their heels in the moment.” Scott holds the audience in his sway the whole set, with his characteristic high register vocals and effeminate yet commanding stage presence. The hometown crowd lapped up the set and by this time things were getting pretty messy with the amount of beverages consumed by the punters. But there was no negativity, just good times – fitting considering the name of the Stealing O’Neal/TMIM tour – Good Times and Killer Rhymes Part II.