The time seems ripe for Australians to be making their way to the Nordics. On November 26th, 2014, PARKWAY DRIVE, a metalcore band from New South Wales, kicked off their latest tour at The Circus in Helsinki. If the venue wasn’t sold out, it was damned close, as the floor was packed to bursting with eager fans. I, for one, hopped up on the ledge by the sound booth just so I could stand a chance of seeing the stage.
I usually try not to review bands that I’m completely unfamiliar with, but I plugged these guys into Spotify after my friend raved about them and liked what I heard, so I thought it’d be worth it to go see what was up!
Right around 21:35, the stage went black, with only the band’s name lit up, and some smashing/industrial noises started to play. The band kicked things off with a familiar riff and the crowd immediately began to chant and jump along with it – the intro to “Wild Eyes.” This was evidently a big hit of theirs, as the pit was practically going before the song.
Visually, this was a pretty standard metalcore band: sleeve tattoos, a screaming vocalist, and high energy musicians. I have, however, never actually seen a vocalist put the mic around his neck so he could clap and get the crowd going. It made me wonder why I’ve never seen such a thing before. It’s pretty practical. As the show went on though, I began to realize that perhaps Winston McCall just liked wrapping himself up in the cord because he seemed to be getting himself intentionally tangled in it from time to time.
As always seems to be the case with music, McCall’s Aussie accent came out the moment he stopped singing. He greeted the crowd and said that it’s been a while since they’ve been to Finland. The last time was at Rock the Beach, which I believe was in 2013. He also said that they went into the water that year. He then asked if we could bring it up a notch, and they kicked into the very thrashy “Sleepwalker.”
It was the first day of their tour, so McCall explained that all the gears are a bit rusty as they made some quick tune-ups and adjustments before the third song, “Karma.” This gig was also the first time they performed “Dream Run” off 2012’s “Atlas” album. The stage also went dark and returned to the slow industrial clanging noises (followed by big cheers) before they started “Dark Days.” And I had a bit of a laugh when McCall said they had a heavy one for us, because there was absolutely nothing that wasn’t heavy as hell in this show. He scoffed because there was very little response when he said it, and had to spend a bit of time getting the crowd roaring again, shouting, “Front to back, wall-to-wall, get the fuck up!” as they started “Deliver Me.”
The main highlight of this show though? The pit. As I said, the crowd was just itching to get into it and it went from start to finish. Shoes were lost. Hell, I bet teeth were lost. People were crowd surfing. There was even a guy up there with a camera on a selfie-stick. I saw someone do a stage dive, though I didn’t see how he got onto the stage in the first place. I think most people were surfing up to the stage and hopping down into the pit. I have no idea what the guards were doing, or if they were even trying to put a stop to it, since this is usually frowned upon in Finland. The bartenders weren’t even making an attempt to collect glasses because the regular walkways that go around the venue were engulfed by the sheer magnitude of the pit. There were very few safe spaces (and I bet if you were in one, you couldn’t see a thing) and I was actually grateful in the end for my ledge because I probably would’ve been ground to a pulp if I had been on the floor.
I’d be willing to place bets on there having been some sore necks after this show. In fact, I’d be genuinely surprised if anyone got out of The Circus without someone else’s blood on them. This gig was alive with energy and to my pleasure, had a bare minimum of the unimaginative thrash-smashing and was melodic enough to keep my interest. The playing was tight but it wouldn’t have mattered. The performance was great but it wouldn’t have mattered. I doubt many people could even see the stage because it really was wall-to-wall moshing and jumping, and that right there is a sign that people are having a great time. Metalcore isn’t my favorite genre, but I genuinely enjoyed this show. So if you’re into this sort of thing, well, I think it goes without saying that you should probably be at their next show.
1. Wild Eyes
4. Dream Run
5. Idols and Anchors
7. Dark Days
8. Deliver Me
9. The Siren’s Song
10. Romance is Dead
11. Home is for the Heartless
13. Horizons (encore)
14. Carrion (encore)
Written by Bear Wiseman