Unify proves Australia’s alternative scene is the strongest it’s been in years

Unify proves Australia’s alternative scene is the strongest it’s been in years

May 29, 2023

Save articles for later

Add articles to your saved list and come back to them any time.

Unify Off the Record ★★★★
UOW Uni Bar, May 27

If you grew up as a teen in the ’00s, you’re probably dealing with the uncomfortable realisation that pivotal parts of your youth have become nostalgic fodder: everything old is cool again. And one trend that has come back harder than most is the ’00s emo wave.

Growing up emo in the ’00s wasn’t as cool as it would seem from looking at TikTok right now. Speaking from experience, chances are you were actually just a huge, misunderstood loser at school, finding solace in listening to angry men yelling on your iPod Shuffle. Leaning into alternative fashion or music now is a more widely accepted choice, but in the heyday of the ’00s, it was something judged – even as the emo wave gained popularity. While bands like My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy were making their mainstream mark, headlines and media coverage still ran rampant about the “Cult of Emo” and how “dangerous” it was.

Make Them Suffer are one of the most successful Aussie metal exports of the past decade.Credit: Flavio Brancaleone

The Australian ’00s scene had its own heavy hitters: bands including The Getaway Plan, Kisschasy and Tonight Alive all saw various levels of mainstream success, while heavier bands including Parkway Drive and The Amity Affliction gained international recognition. Some of the most anticipated line-up drops were for festivals such as Soundwave and Big Day Out, before they faded into oblivion in the mid-2010s. Spotify and streaming services changed the way music was being promoted and sold. Touring festival line-ups became more mainstream, trying to cater to a wide crowd of people. Throw in a global pandemic to top things off, and the live alternative scene was forced to go quiet.

But if you’ve been paying attention recently, you might notice a stirring, a rumbling, a parade of alternative people dressed in black, marching to the gates of Centennial Park for festivals like Good Things and Knotfest. While Good Things existed before COVID, its prominence now in main venues and grounds across Australia shows the alternative wave is becoming widely accepted again, and Unify is another event effectively supporting the Aussie scene.

Since its inception in 2015, Unify Gathering festival has been catering to Aussie emos and metalheads. Held in regional Victoria, the summer multi-day festival has always heavily championed Aussie bands. In 2023, Unify announced it was hitting the road, taking a bunch of Aussie artists with it to headline shows in regional areas and deliver an epic experience for Aussie metalheads and pop-punk lovers.

As a former emo kid and University of Wollongong alumni, heading along to Unify Off the Record at UOW’s Unibar on Saturday night brought together all the important stages in my life. From my angsty teens, to my fun and free uni days, the one thing that has stuck with me is my love for the alternative scene – and Unify put on a show that was more than just live music.

Unify did its best to make sure the festival was as inclusive as possible, with Auslan interpreters on stage and sessions that touched on wide-ranging subjects such as songwriting and mental health. It resulted in the ultimate celebration of live music, with bands who made the festival feel fresh and nostalgic all at once.

To see emerging talent like Banks Arcade and Bloom take to the stage was a real treat. Banks Arcade won fans over with their energetic stage presence, with frontman Joshua O’Donnell exuding charisma. Bloom are a band that have all the ingredients to make it big in the scene – the melodic hardcore piece may be young, but they’ve got the musical skill, pipes and songs to rival heavy hitters like The Amity Affliction.

Emerging talent including Bloom were given a chance to gain fans at Unify.Credit: Flavio Brancaleone

Early sound issues weren’t going to stop Yours Truly from leaving a lasting impression. The catchy pop-punk act, led by dazzling frontwoman Mikaila Delgado, have been working the scene relentlessly over the years and were fresh from touring the US. Not only is it refreshing to see an act with a woman lead on a heavier line-up, but they were the perfect palate cleanser to bring some high energy, clean fun to the evening, effortlessly smashing through their hits like High Hopes and Walk Over My Grave.

Yours Truly effortlessly smashed through their hits at Unify Off the Record.Credit: Flavio Brancaleone

On the heavier side of things, Make Them Suffer proved that the west really does it best. The metal act from Western Australia have been around for years, and have an utterly captivating stage presence. The band threw in hits including Weeping Wastelands to keep the older fans happy, while newer tracks such as Doomswitch perfectly demonstrated why they’re one of the most successful Aussie metal exports of the past decade.

And simply put, if you haven’t seen Ocean Grove live, you’re missing out. The nu-metal band are easily one of the most fun live Aussie acts in Australia, with songs such as Junkie$ and Sunny awakening the audience and turning the mosh into a crowd-surfing frenzy. Seeing established and beloved bands like Ocean Grove and Thy Art Is Murder in a smaller, more intimate venue meant the festival felt more like seeing friends at a house party and bonding over shared music experiences, compared to the usual disconnected or sensory-overload festival feeling.

Ocean Grove are one of the most fun live bands in Australia.Credit: Flavio Brancaleone

Emo may have been a dirty word in the ’00s but in the 2020s, the Australian alternative scene is thriving, and events like Unify Off the Record prove that exceptionally well.

Sydney Morning Herald subscribers can enjoy 2-for-1 tickets* to the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales during June 2023. Click here for more details.

Find out the next TV, streaming series and movies to add to your must-sees. Get The Watchlist delivered every Thursday.

Most Viewed in Culture

From our partners

Source: Read Full Article