Chalking up a hefty ten years of off-the-wall insanity that’s cumulated a highly acclaimed rapport amongst fans worldwide, Impericon’s Never Say Die tour has made its annual rounds once again for another delightful evening of pure chaos confided in searing riffs, gnarly vocals and all around crazy antics that made for a show-stopping performance.
I always appreciate a hungry underdog who can snap the spotlight from under the lion’s nose that leaves you completely taken back by the growing talents in our scene. Hellraisers Thousand Below and Currents did exactly that and complimented their outstanding talents as they opened up the night whilst an on a pour of fans flooded through the venue doors. Admittingly, being the first support act on a usual headlining tour can be extremely daunting, and pressures exceed when you’re the opening act for a seven-act tour with heavy-weight metalcore champions reigning over you. But Thousand Below wasn’t buckling under pressure anytime soon and stormed the stage exuberating an ecstatic energy that bounced across the room and immediately captivated the audience. I felt they were the perfect pick for the lineup, it wasn’t anything too gruly to kick off with but they did feature some scorching guitar licks and heavy chugging beats that held a grittier metalcore sentiment but was ultimately overpowered by their raw, emotional lyrics and almost celestial harmonies. Thousand Below riled up the crowd, preparing them for what was to come and ultimately had all eyes on them- and headbanging, from the moment they stepped on stage.
Currents kept the “flow” of high-energy surging through the room but honed in more on their metalcore roots for some sinister, rougher vocals that gave their performance an edgier feel. I did feel between the two, Thousand Below centered more around soft clean vocals with coursing high screams matched by powerful, emotive lyrics that lightened their set into something more sentimental, whereas Currents punch you in the gut with a daring heavier stance that features raunchy growls and overall sets a darker, ominous tone to the night that the third act, Polar swung out of the park.
Polar stepped into the ballpark of havoc and hit their set straight out of the field with an insane, high energy performance that was unmatchable. Polar shows are truly indescribable, their hardcore havoc touches every edge of the corner and it’s almost impossible to stand still. Vocalist Adam Woodford known as ‘Woody’ has an admirable way of commanding the stage with his husk vocals that slam at every note and fortify the emotional backstory behind the lyrics, whilst his boisterous charm demanded the audience off their feet “turn this place upside down” and trust me, they really did.
Polar has racked up almost over eight years of experience together, and their stage rapport along with their setlist complimented this perfectly. The band moved as one body, it was evident there was chemistry between the group who fed from each other’s eccentric energy and who as a collective fed from the crowd’s dedication, which was evident when watching Woody lean into the barrier and almost strain himself as he used all the power in himself to sing along with fans who just sang back with even more strain, passion, and even louder. Overall, I must admit, after an almost historic career this band has aged like fine wine; they just get better and better.
In an odd placement, emotional punkers Casey followed with an overwhelming set that recollected my love for old-school emo. In 2018 pop-punk and hardcore is reshaping itself based on its emo roots that cast a brim, gloomy light on energetic instrumentals that are engulfed with melancholic lyrics. Casey embodies everything about this with a melodic but gritty rock instrumental that’s light-hearted at times but easy to catch yourself headbanging to. Yet, with every song you’re caught in this poignant net that wraps you in a cocoon of emotions that can get you a bit teary-eyed at times. Frontman Tom encapsulates both their energetic rhythm and soul-stirring lyrics as he sways around the stage, bouncing around with a boyish grin at one point then grasping at the microphone as he painfully screams about past traumas with isolated vocals silencing the room.
I appreciated the emotional rollercoaster Casey took me on, at one point Tom spoke out to say that a year ago today he’d tried to kill himself but found the mental strength to carry on, and the next we were singing happy birthday to him- it was really a whirlwind of emotions. Whilst I did appreciate their set, I did feel it was slightly out of place after the ebullient performance from Polar. Although this didn’t damper either of their performances and only proved that you don’t always need to be the loudest in the room to have the most powerful message, it did feel a bit “off.” I’d rather placed them before Polar or after Alazka so it eased them in better.
The not so Alaskan, but Germany rockers of Alazka tore the building apart in a surprising twist after Casey’s somber set. Vocalists Tobias Rische and Kassim Auale worked as a power duo to rile up the crowd, Rische held the fort down on stage with deathly growls that were deep enough to seep into the floor works whilst Auale took every chance he could to dive into the crowd and singalong with fans. I especially enjoyed the contrast of their poetic clean vocals and rough growls that set an unknowing tone to the show, you could never guess what they’d do next, would it be a pounding breakdown or a break for soft isolated vocals? By this point fans were off their feet and bouncing along to the songs, there wasn’t a non-sweaty face in sight. I couldn’t fault them, they had amazing stage rapport, carried themselves with gratitude and a humble nature and they had a catchy beat with great vocals that made it easy for anyone to enjoy.
With an extensive lineup of overwhelming talents that all brought their own unique flair to the table, it becomes all too easy for one act to just be washed over and it’s even more painful to watch when that band is the co-headliner. Sad but true, Being As An Ocean had the ingredients for a perfect show but it just didn’t sit right. Frontman Joel Quartuccio kept energy coursing by jumping into the crowd and moshing along with fans, practically moving with them as one whole body and truly feeling the emotive spirit in their songs. The stage mood was no different with scorching guitar solos and a thudding drum beat that pounded through the room and dominated the audience to cognitively nod their heads insync, it came almost like a second nature to the crowd.
However, the two moved as a separate body and I felt that Quartuccio connected more with the crowd than he did with his own bandmates. There was no evidence of actual chemistry between members, and pauses between songs indicated that on that night the band just didn’t flow as one.
This behavior implanted itself into their sound, leaving some sort of disdain in their melodies and an off-rhythm hook where the notes just didn’t hit at the right time and the vocals didn’t match up to the par they could or should have. After hearing five other bands, if you’re not going to bring something that doesn’t sound like generic metalcore, for anybody external to the fanbase it’s just going to sound like washed out noise. Especially as the co-headliner on their 10th-anniversary tour, Being as an Ocean could have packed a greater punch and admittingly this really wasn’t their finest moment.
However, my disappointment only lingered for a short period as Northlane saddled up to reign in the audience and truly tear the roof down. After cultivating years of dedicated fans, the room was packed out with fans front to back who immediately submerged into a wild-scale mosh pit whilst others were thrown over the crowds and almost into the air. Kicking in with ‘Genesis’ the band bounced on stage bringing their high-energy pep along with them that had everyone in the room bouncing along. Their setlist offered itself to the best of Northlane’s career and the contrast between their earliest work and newer works was a treat for fans of all ages but highlighted their growth as musicians and the creative changes they’ve bared through.
Vocalist Marcus Bridge was nothing short of charismatic, playful, wild and humble. He’d made the stage his stomping ground and wasn’t afraid to test the waters, jumping from side to side in a spilt-second and leaning into the crowd to actually connect with the fans and sing along with them. Overall there felt like a genuine band chemistry was there, they’d headbang in sync of lean on one another and sing together; Northlane shows aren’t just a band playing music, they’re the band opening you up to their community or family and it’s humbling to see after all these years that the connection between them all is strong.
On a functionality scale, their instrumentals and vocals were practically flawless. Not a single not was left untouched, no riff left unhinged, every beat hit the right spot and at no point did I ever stop and think “does this work?” The set flowed perfectly, songs were strategically placed to fit the energy levels in the room, sending the audience on a wave of emotions from over the top excitement to slow, somber and reflective during the sadder songs. The group knows how to put on a show and feed from the crowd’s intoxicating energy, which led to a heated climax that peaked at ‘Quantum Flux’ where I genuinely thought the room might literally explode. They undeniably lived up to their title place as the biggest headlining act and weren’t short on delivery, there couldn’t have been a better act to close the show.
Reflecting on its years of service, the NSD tour has always been about more than just the music itself. Over the years a strong community has sheltered under its metalcore wing and a vibrant ethos from a strong community of both artists and fans dedicated to each other and their music was felt strongly within the whole night. Artists would strain themselves beyond their own capabilities just to get every note right, or every word right and whilst that was outstanding, what completely sank me with this overwhelming feeling of belonging was the beautifully deafening sound of fans screaming those lyrics back but louder, with even more passion. It really reinstated the reality that for many, this really is all they have and the community founded within the NSD tour is a dedicated, loving fan base that have been here since 2008 and will be here in 2028.
Overall, the night truly paid an honest homage to the alternative scene of metalcore/hardcore and its finest talents and set out for a night of sweaty moshpits and lots of people jumping all around the room.