R.I.P Alexisonfire, my Canadian Friends (I wish)
It was with heavy hearts that a gaggle of post-hardcore and metal kids (some now 30) made a journey, not unlike a pilgrimage to Mecca, to Melbourne’s Festival Hall to say goodbye to one of the most influential post-hardcore bands of our time. Alexisonfire’s last ever show on Australian soil, only weeks before officially closing the door on the sound, was definitely “a fucking wake, not a funeral” as was put by frontman George Pettit.
However, before we were able to see George, Dallas, Wade, Chris and Ratbeard take to the stage, Melbourne rising metalcore stars House Vs. Hurricane put on an energetic and spot on set, getting the audience pumped with their massive mosh jams. Blasting through a set comprised mainly of their new album, Crooked Teeth, this House Vs. Hurricane 2.0 got most of the quickly filling crowd involved, and surely won over a few new fans.
After a short set, we waited, and waited, and cheered with vigor as a roadie took to the stage because damn it, it was International Day of the Roadie! Then we waited some more. But it was worth it as soon as Alexisonfire took to the stage, and got stuck into Y'oung Cardinals'.
“Why did this band have to implode over a faux-folk side project?” I thought to myself, as Dallas and George traded lines, but then I knew. That is what Alexisonfire stand for. All or nothing. And then I was able to enjoy the rest of the set.
They played, on my count, a 22 song 'Best Of' set. Blitzing through their extensive back catalog, drawing on their abrasive beginnings in cuts from Alexisonfire and Watch Out! through their developed sounds on Crisis, the matured and almost perfect album Old Crows/Young Cardinals and the uber heavy and progressive Dogs Blood EP.
I took in every moment, these guys are so tight on stage, and they nail everything with such an amazing amount of total power and energy. Set highlights were, well, basically the whole set. But, set closer ‘Happiness By The Kilowatt’ was absolutely nailed, ‘The Northern’ had a great little sojourn into some gospel in their rendition of ‘Lord, I Just Can't Keep From Crying’, a song by Blind Willie Johnson. My personal highlight was ‘Waterwings (and other poolside fashion faux pas)’ because that song, just, has some perfect mix between complete chaos and sweet melody, Dallas’ voice sweet like a caramel sundae, Pettit’s growl like a horrible demon baby sent to kill you.
The only drawback this performance had to offer was afterwards. Those “oh they didn’t play ‘That Girl Possessed’ moments, which seem to haunt you on the long walk back to the hotel. But, I think it would be unreasonable to dwell on these too much since they played for close to two hours.
In a show that would see George rip through upwards of five tee shirts, the band gelled so obviously, I wondered whether it would spark some on-stage reunion for good. Although that didn’t happen, the experience of seeing the Alexisonfire machine on their farewell tour is something I will never forget.