Polaris, August Burns Red, Kublai Khan TX & Currents – Brisbane [Live Review]

Review: Jack Price
Phtography: Dan Maynard

On the back of their long-awaited album, Fatalism, which released earlier this month, the critically acclaimed Polaris are in town for their Fatalism tour, housed at Fortitude Valley‘s very own Fortitude Music Hall. And they’re bringing some international mates along for the ride! Melodic metalcore legends August Burns Red have joined the Sydney boys, as well as Kublai Khan TX from Texas, and prog metallics Currents coming along for the ride.

When I say the hall is packed to the rafters, between the lines to the bar, merch table and upstairs mezzanine, there is hardly a spot to stand. Tonight is about to get rowdy, Brisbane, hold on to your hats! Currents, all the way from Connecticut, come out fucking swinging!

The house lights dim to shroud the stage in darkness as the band take to the stage, opening their set with Living In Tragedy. The darkness disturbed as the house lights burst back to life, strobing and flashing as bassist Christian Pulgarin spins and dances, not missing a beat. Brian Wilie‘s voice controls the crowd with his brutal performance.

If these boys are anything to go by, there will be blood tonight. The crowd loses their mind for these fellas, the pit surging and swirling as arms and heads are flung around. The crowd is floored by Wilie‘s vocal prowess, executing guttural growls mixed with pig squeals, all the while his voice not faltering during the cleans. The technical guitar solos by Chris Wiseman seemed almost effortless, and backed by the rhythm of Ryan Castaldi, the boundaries of metalcore and prog metal are disoriented and blurred. The stage antics and showmanship of bassist and backing vocalist Pulgarin are fueled by the blasting drums from Matt Young.

Kublai Khan TX are up next to take on the Brissy crowd, as rowdy as they are, they are not prepared for Kublai Khan TX‘s frontman Matt Honeycutt. Opening to The Hammer, the vocalist has now declared Brisbane as part of Texas, and the crowd are all for it! The crowd are bending to his will, chanting the rhythm lyrics back at him.

His vocal performance is full of energy, aggression and demands complete compliance from the crowd of rowdy punters. Getting into the Aussie spirit, the frontman declares “We didn’t come here to fuck spiders”, which gets a roar of response from the crowd. The crowd is well and truly alive, surging at the whim of their Texan puppet master, conducting the pit into circle pits and general chaos. Honeycutt informs the Brisbane punters that unfortunately their guitarist and bassist couldn’t make it. In their places are Thy Art Is Murder guitarists Andy Marsh and Sean Delander, who deliver heavy chugs and breakdowns throughout the set.

Red illuminates the stage as August Burns Red enters the stage. Opening with The Truth Of A LiarJake Luhrs besieges the crowd with a mighty roar, sending the hyped-up crowd into a frenzy. Despite having played only last night at The Princess Theatre, the metalcore juggernauts are in fine form, destroying the crowded venue with their heavy riffage, crashing blast beats and face-melting solos.

It is obvious why the Pennsylvanian band has been a staple over the last two decades in the metal scene. Luhrs and guitarist JB Brubaker share a secret bromantic handshake mid-song. The pair smiled and continued on with the track. As they slayed their way through songs spanning their 20-year tenier including, Meddler (2009), Invisible Enemy (2017), and Backfire from this year’s Death Blow, to which the band tested the house security with Luhrs egging the crowd to surf prior to starting the track.

Keeping in the same neighbourhood, Backfire was followed up with Revival before heading to 2020 with Bloodletter and Paramount from Guardians. The frontman declared the next track was “an oldie- but a goodie” as they took the crowd back to 2007 with Composure before closing off their set with arguably their biggest tracks to date, Mariana’s Trench followed by Whitewashed, the room shaking with the sheer amount of people moshing and bodies crashing together. Despite them not being the headliners for this evening, August Burns Red exuded energy worthy of the crowd’s time.
The lights dimmed as a symphonic wail filled the air, drummer Daniel Furnari took his seat behind his percussive throne. The crowd erupted as the light show began, perfectly timed spotlights illuminating him with every strike for the kit. As the rest of the band took their respective places on the stage opening straight into Harbinger, the atmosphere went up another notch or twelve! The band weren’t the only ones there to celebrate the new album Fatalism, as NightmareWith RegardsOverflowParasites, Dissipate and Inhumane all had their place on the set list mixed in with a healthy dose of fan favourites and classics.

Hypermania was borderline impossible to distinguish vocalist Jamie Hails‘s voice from the many ecstatic fans screaming their lungs out. During a between-song speech, Hail instructed the audience to “Just have fun – this is a safe space”.

While the punishment continued through the heavier tracks, the band took a moment to remember their late guitarist Ryan Siew, who tragically passed away earlier this year.

In an emotionally moving speech from Jamie as the rest of the band sat along the center of the stage, he said “We lost our band mate, we lost our fucking brother. And it hurts”, only adding to the gravity of the loss both they and the community of die-hard fans feel. The speech was sombre yet also a cry for every single person visiting the venue to make the most of the time with their loved ones. “This Song is for him, this song is for you” Hails proclaimed and requested the crowd light up the room with the torches on their mobile phones to light the room, so that wherever he may be, Ryan would see the love in that room. The band reformed to perform Martyr, a perfect song to remember their brother.

Following up with Parasites, Jamie took a moment to thank the international acts that had supported them on the tour individually, before jumping straight into Consume. The frontman demanded the crowd jump and they did as they were instructed, celebrating the entire evening as one.

The band tied up the rest of their set with DissipateMasochist and Inhumane before closing with Pray For Rain. As the crowd called for an encore, lights flashed rhythmically in time with the crowd. It was an assuring sight and before long, the Polaris boys took to the stage once more to tackle the crowd once more.

The Remedy was their weapon of choice, and armed with a pyrotechnic display and confetti cannons, the crowd didn’t stand a chance against the onslaught of awesomeness. Red ticker tape erupted from the stage, the band a blur behind the red paper cloud slowly dissipating across the room, backed by towers of orange sparks that whizzed furiously along the stage.

Utterly destroyed, exhausted and with red faces, people spewed from the Fortitude Music Hall into the mall. Those brave enough to have been in the mosh pit adorned in torn rags that once resembled t-shirts, bloody yet smiling faces, and some sure to surface bruises. Club and bar goers looked on in disgust as the wave of black clad metalheads passed them, already reminiscing about the show.

Thanks to PolarisCurrents and Kublai Khan TX have gained a mass of fans in BrisbaneAugust Burns Red have shown the Brissy crowd they have more to give (even after two decades of brutal music) and Polaris cannot only create amazing music, but some amazing memories as well.