Cancer Bats, Fangz, Pistonfist and Strange Fiction – Brightside Outdoors Brisbane [Live Review]

Review: Joshua Hobbins
Photography: Nate Rose

It was a nice early start on a crisp Brissy night at The Brightside this week for the return of Canada’s hardcore heroes Cancer Bats. There was nothing nice about the M1 traffic northbound from the GC however, which nearly resulted in us missing Brisbane’s purveyors of southern hardcore, openers Strange Fiction.

The lads brought us a really high energy start to the night, and they well and truly warmed up the crowd. The slower, chunkier breakdowns were nice and meaty, and when mixed with the groove of some tasty riffs, the punters were digging it. Their 2022 single, Day For it, was a set highlight for me, showcasing the kind of energy and riffage that ETID would be proud of. Hope to see more of these guys in the near future.

PistonFist, also from Brisbane, are up second tonight, and they bring an Aussie swagger with a sludgy NOLA feel to proceedings. After the first couple of songs, Landslide, from the 2023 album Redline, stepped it up a notch for me, with the mix finding its sweet spot and really filling the outdoor stage at The Brightside. Dig In, from the same album, delivered some chuggy goodness, and I always love seeing a bass player gallop with their fingers, so hat tipped to the man James Lavel!

Become the Rage kicked off with a drum groove Vinnie Paul would be proud of, thanks to ex-Lynchmada drummer Ryan Blunden, and the twin guitar attack of Churv and Matt gave us some tasty wah-tinged solos all set.

Next track Home was the most melodic song of the set, with some cool vocal harmonies from the string section helping vocalist Geoffro O’Leary bring it home. Geoffro took some time to address the crowd before closer Black Rain, with a plea to everyone to take men’s mental health/suicide rates seriously, to talk to your mates, to listen to your mates and be there for them. The band had really hit their straps by this stage, and this was the grooviest song of the set, with a chuggy double-kick beatdown to top it all off. Best of luck to the PistonFist crew as they soon head off on a (daunting) 6-week European tour!

Sydney 5-piece Fangz were up next, and as they entered the stage accompanied by Turnstile’s Holiday, and dressed in matching overalls, bassist Jameel urged everyone to come to the front. They bring the most melodic/poppiest sound of the night, with Jameel and guitarists Voya and Ethan helping out singer Joshua with backups in the catchy choruses.

Drifter and new song Wasting Time, which was released today, bring the heaviness, and have everyone up the front nodding along. Wasting time is noticeably heavier than some of the other tracks played tonight, but retains the catchiness of the other tracks while raising the energy of the crowd a notch. It’s my pick for the standout song of the set. Bass heavy track Who Are We Now, from 2020’s But No Thanks EP. is up next and again, the whole band chime in on vox in the chorus. Loved the nod to Sabbath’s iconic Iron Man at the end of this track too.

During the closing song, Josh climbs the stage scaffolding to scream down at us, but unfortunately the sound drops out while he’s up there. It kicks back in when he gets back on stage and Fangz close it out with a tasty beatdown, probably the heaviest part of the set and a great way to finish.

It got noticeably chillier as Cancer Bats did their line check, which sounded massive and warmed us all up just that little bit with everyone frothing what was about to unfold!

Metallica’s For Whom the Bell Tolls signals the stage lights to cut and many heads in the crowd nod in anticipation. Weirdly, when the first 3 bands asked the punters if they were ready for Cancer Bats during their respective sets, the response was tepid each time, but they finally seem to wake up as the Bats walk on stage. Many horns are thrown as they rip into Gatekeeper, the riff-tastic opener from their 2018 album The Spark That Moves. Vocalist Liam Cormier is on fire tonight from start to finish, which is such a treat for us on the first night of the tour.

He stalked the stage the whole set, and powered through each and every song like the legend he is. Mike Peters punished his drums like they owed him something in Trust No One and Lonely Bong. Pneumonia Hawk was so tight and unrelenting, and the pit was well and truly pumping by now. Cormier reminisces about partying to crowds of 40 people on their first tour 17 years ago, loving the fact that they are still playing songs from their 2006 debut Birthing the Giant.

There’s some proper Sabbath worship to follow with Lucifer’s Rocking Chair, as guitarist Jackson Landry solos with delight while Jaye Schwarzer’s bass fills the space with some fuzzy rumblings. Things speed up with The Hoof, the crowd pumped up and clapping along as the band rip through the song. R.A.T.S. brings a more southern feel to the set and Schwarzer compliments Liam with some really strong backing vox here and throughout the set. Radiate and Harem of Scorpions get the pit jumping energetically, and it doesn’t let up for the rest of the set. Sorceress and Winterpeg get the circle pit going, with Winterpeg really grooving things up.

Bricks and Mortar chugs and riffs and is now my fave Bats song after seeing it live. Schwarzer then gave us the great bass intro from The Beastie Boys classic Sabotage, and the band rip through an amazing version of an amazing song, before pummeling us with Hail Destroyer to close out the night. Blown away is an understatement. The energy, the heavy heavy, the fun and the sheer quality of Cancer Bats made me kick myself that I’d never seen them live before. Genuine dudes playing great tunes and worthy of legend status. Most excellent.



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** Bat Sabbath shows – FANGZ not appearing