Live review: Polaris – The Tivoli, Brisbane, February 29, 2020

How amazing are the shows that make you feel like you’re part of something special and you just know that you will talk about it for years to come? Polaris’ show on Saturday night at The Tivoli is one such gig. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – Polaris are killing it. Their album ‘The Death Of Me’ was released a week ago to critical acclaim (Grater’s review here) and it finished the week at number three on the ARIA charts. To top that off, all of the shows for the Death Of Me tour sold out, meaning this well-loved band would be playing to the packed out venues they deserved. And it wasn’t just Polaris who delivered in a big way; all three supports absolutely killed their sets in one of the tightest lineups we might see all year. Woah. Early and big call there!

Starting the night of ferocity was Tasmanian metalcore band Alpha Wolf. Playing to an already large crowd, the night got off to a heavy, sweaty start and a pit opened up really early on. They played songs off their upcoming EP and there is nothing better than an opener who gets the crowd to reach fever pitch so early on. These guys did an incredible job making sure the crowd was warmed up and raring to go and seeing them play a full show of their own would be a wild time. 

Next up was the official winners of ‘batshit set of the night’ from Japan’s Crystal Lake with a set that felt like a headliner. The energy from this band is insane – they don’t stop moving. Vocalist Ryo Kinoshita demanded so much from the crowd, constantly growling for them to keep moving and open up the pit and asking, “How are you doing motherfuckers?” There was crowd surfing, insane circles pits, a wall of death and Kinoshita scaling the balcony at the Tivoli and then jumping down into the crowd. The band said it had taken them 18 years to get to Australia so let’s hope it doesn’t take them that long to come back because any heavy music fan must go see these guys. Put it on your band bucket list! 

Wage War were up next and honestly, it wasn’t hard to feel a little sorry for these guys (and even Polaris) having to follow Crystal Lake after the crazy performance they put on. The metalcore crew from Florida certainly didn’t let this get to them and they put on a furious set of their own. Vocalist Briton Bond’s stage presence is commanding and it was impressive and maybe a bit concerning that he wore a leather jacket the entire set given how bloody hot it was.

With the crowd unbelievably sweaty and a buzz in the air, Polaris finally took to the stage with the ominous refrains of Pray For Rain, which opens up the album and is a fitting way to open the set. From Pray For Rain it was straight into the super quick and intense Landmine which got a circle pit going and the crowd yelling along. The set was pretty even, with bangers from the new album and old favourites like The Remedy and even going back to Unfamiliar from the 2016 record ‘The Guilt and the Grief’. The Remedy was a highlight and of course a crowd favourite, as was Above My Head which features beautiful vocals from Jake Steinhauser in the incredible chorus: I’m a wreck, I confess, I am in so far above my head / And I’ve been telling everyone that I can’t bear the weight / When I break, do you break? Do you feel it like your bones are aching? / Even as we grow, it hurts to know that some things never change. Such an incredible song with an incredible guitar part and the perfect opportunity for the crowd to clap along in the quieter instrumental part.

Hypermania was early on in the set and was a crazy time and the end of the set saw old favourites Dusk To Day and Consume, with new favourite Vagabond in the middle. Vagabond was as incredible as expected with the crowd singing along to the chorus and seeing Ryan Siew play the incredible guitar solo was such a joy to watch. The set rounded out with The Descent which also finishes out The Death Of Me and has that gorgeous quiet moment halfway through with incredible bass and drums that then builds back up into the crashing end of the song. This song was an incredible way to lead into the encore. The encore was of course Masochist which saw so much crowd surfing and then into crowd favourite Lucid to finish the set. It was surprising that the band didn’t play slow burner Martyr (Waves) during the set. While it is very different and slower than all of the other songs, a ballad moment is always a hit in a set to give the crowd a chance to rest. It definitely would have been a phones up in the air, arms waving time; hopefully they will play the song live soon. 

Honestly, Polaris are incredible and the show was every bit as fantastic as would be expected from a band that have just put out such a ripper of an album. Frontman Jamie Hails is so great to watch as he crosses the stage and the constant thanking of the crowd and the feeling that these guys are just so thankful and so humbled to be doing so well. Not that they don’t deserve it – this is a band coming into their stride and are all incredibly talented. They play with the professionalism and tightness of a much older band and are already shaping up to be one of Australia’s forefront heavy bands. If you are one of the few people still sleeping on Polaris, you better get onto fixing that up because you’re going to get left behind and be very sorry you didn’t get into them sooner. Hopefully we will be seeing them play again very soon, complete with walls of death, circle pits and gallons of sweat. Just like this time.

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